White Sands Missile Range Garrison Commander Col. Dave Brown emphasized the importance of the garrison working together as a team instead of as separate organizations during his first All Hands meeting at the Post Theater Sept. 21.
“I’m hoping you want to be a part of my team because I want to be a part of your team,” Brown said. “We’re a coherent command, we’re not a bunch of individuals. I’m trying to connect everyone together. We are the WSMR Garrison, period.”
In an effort to bring about the spirit of cohesion, Brown and his wife Christina have been handing out Garrison White Sands lapel pins shortly after their arrival. He joked the pin would be an “inspectable item.”
“I like to give them out because I had a sense this was a bunch of different organizations playing on the same field,” he said.
Brown said he hopes the pins will instill a service culture initiative. According to an Installation Management Command report the foundation of this initiative is leader engagement. Leaders must be open, honest and straightforward in communication. Through leader and community engagements the workforce, the customers and the community will be informed and educated about the changing environment and how IMCOM will continue to support them.
Brown talked about his priorities for the workforce, which include training, enabling strategic partners and becoming action-oriented organizations.
“I expect you to know what we need to do, reflexively,” he said. “You’ve got to be on point and held accountable for success. We have to deliver success because there is nothing else that is acceptable.”
“I’m hoping you want to be a part of my team because I want to be a part of your team,” Brown said.
He also talked about the importance of living by the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
Brown discussed his trust in the organization and highlighted the importance of always doing the right thing.
“If you’re going to make a mistake I’d rather you make the mistake falling forward, trying to do the right thing,” Brown said. “If you understand intent, you can act decisively and with confidence.”
He also talked about his number one priority, readiness.
“We don’t deliver readiness the same way as a combat brigade does,” he said. “We’re delivering future readiness and we can’t lose sight of that. My intent is to deliver readiness platforms. We’re going to be an expert in the delivery of readiness platform.”
Brown also announced that WSMR Garrison will soon fall under the IMCOM Support Directorate that is aligned with U.S. Army Forces Command, under a four-star general. They will be the only non-ATEC garrison to fall under FORSCOM.
“We are singularly unique,” he said. “There is no other garrison like us. I think this will work in our favor. I am not shy about being vocal about what’s required. Sometimes I get shut down but at least I know our position is being heard.”
Prior to the town hall, Brown, WSMR Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. William Wofford and WSMR Garrison Deputy Commander Kate McNeely led a two-day Strategic Planning Conference with WSMR garrison directors and leaders. The purpose of the conference was to determine clear priorities and to identify which services must be performed, cannot be performed and can be performed at a reduced level due to continuing budget constraints.
“What came out of it is that there’s a whole bunch of stuff you guys have to do that nobody gives you credit for,” he said. “So we’re trying to make sure you get credit for it. We’re never going to achieve the effect we strive for if we don’t work together.”
Due to budget constraints Brown said he had to make the decision to close WSMR’s Italian Café at the beginning of October 2016. He said the unique food items that the café offered will not go away but will simply be moved to one of the two restaurants currently available.
“I’d rather have one functioning service than no service,” he said. “I’m taking a place away from you but I’m not taking away a service.”
The golf course, which is scheduled to close in mid-November 2016, will still be maintained as a green space once it is shut down. Brown said he is exploring unique options to help keep the golf course open and most importantly keep WSMR personnel working at WSMR.
“We’re going to focus on taking care of our people,” he said. “Each one of you is a special member and you’re a member of my team. I can’t do anything less for you than my best.”
He said that in the worst-case scenario, if the golf course does shut down as scheduled, it will still be maintained, however, the site will no longer be manicured as a golf course would.
The Auto Skills Center and Roadrunner Lanes will have reduced hours but Brown said he is also fighting to have the skills center hours returned. The hours of operation at Roadrunner Lanes were adjusted to accommodate patron usage.
“Let’s not forget this is more than just us here,” he said. “We have people back home that rely on us and the warfighter, in the future, that relies on us.”
Instead of spending money on demolishing buildings that are no longer being used, Brown said he will leverage those dollars to maintain the facilities that are being used.
“We’re at a time of resource constraints,” he said. “I’m going to focus and deliver excellence with the people and the money that the Army’s giving us. We’re going to try to do the best we can with what we’ve got. I’m not going to have an answer for everything but what we can do is try to make things a little better every day. It’s about applying the limited resources we have to help make ourselves better.”
This is Brown’s first role in the capacity of a garrison commander, one that he has fully embraced.
“I like coming to work every day,” he said. “To me this is a whole new challenge and I like it.”
During the meeting, Brown also talked about the anonymous climate survey that garrison personnel were asked to take within 90 days of his arrival. He reviewed the entire report during the meeting and advised the workforce that he would be working closely with the leadership in each organization to ensure that the areas that were lacking would be reviewed and corrected. Brown said they would be fixing things that are broken and improve on areas that are working.
“If you’re trying to figure out who said what, you’ve missed the entire point of the feedback,” he said. “It’s about making the organization a better organization. This is serious because this is what causes organizations to fail or excel. I’m going to make sure that our leadership is doing the right thing. I’ve got trust in all levels of our organization.”
He said a second climate survey would be sent out within a year to see if they have improved or remained stagnant.
“If you bury your head in the sand and don’t acknowledge it you’re just going to be mediocre,” he said.
Brown further challenged each of his employees to be the change they want to see in the organization.
Brown kicked-off this quarter’s meeting with a series of length of service awards that were presented to garrison personnel. The awards started with personnel who received 10-year length of service awards and ended with personnel who received 30-year length of service.
“We recognize fellow teammates and the excellence they’ve exhibited,” he said. “That’s a pretty significant amount of time to dedicate yourself to the service of the country.”
The meeting ended with a question and answer session where the audience was able to address any concerns. Brown ended by saying he hoped the meeting was beneficial to the workforce, thanked them for attending and emphasized the importance of communication between him and his workforce.
“I want you to hear it from me and not hear it from somebody who heard it from somebody who thought they heard it from somebody,” he said. “It’s all about being transparent and candid and telling you the view from my foxhole.”