NEWS | May 25, 2020

Garrison commanders are the center of gravity in the fight against COVID-19

By Scott Malcom U.S. Army Installation Management Command Public Affairs

Gen. Gus Perna, commanding general of U.S. Army Materiel Command, addressed U.S. Army Installation Management Command leaders around the world during a video teleconference May 18 from IMCOM headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.

Perna uses quarterly updates to conduct “conversations between commanders” an execute mission command for AMC’s 11 major subordinate commands. IMCOM has been part of AMC since March 2019.

Perna normally travels to conduct mission command face-to-face, but he held this session by VTC as part of the Department of Defense’s overall effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Empowering garrison commanders to protect installations while effectively responding to the pandemic and maintaining readiness has been AMC and IMCOM’s primary focus in the last two months.

“Garrison commanders are the center of gravity in this fight,” said Lt. Gen. Douglas M. Gabram, IMCOM commanding general. “Their leadership has been decisive; they are leading the Army through this at the tactical level.”

Gabram went on to frame IMCOM’s primary operating principle in the COVID environment as “protect yourself, so we can protect the force, so the force can protect the nation.”

Several garrison commanders highlighted challenges on or around their installations and the innovative solutions that overcame them.

One consistent theme was the value of quickly and efficiently sharing best practices so all could benefit. For example, garrisons in Korea and Italy encountered the virus before those in North America. Their sharing of lessons learned about cleaning, tracing and putting effective control measures in place facilitated prompt and effective actions at stateside installations.

Col. Dan Vogel, the garrison commander of USAG Italy in Vicenza, described the transition strategy his team created in coordination with local governing bodies to lay out their phased recovery strategy. Their approach is “go slow to go fast,” or an informed, methodical process to bring teammates back to work and re-open garrison services.

Gabram adopted this plan as IMCOM’s framework for transitioning individual installations to the next phase. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” he said.

“You learned some hard lessons and you learned them very quickly. I am very proud of you and your team” commended Perna.

Each commander who spoke mentioned a key element of their successful response was communicating transparently, factually, clearly, and consistently.

In his closing comments, Perna acknowledged IMCOM’s hard work and significant accomplishments over the past year since joining the AMC team.

“You were leading our way through establishing the Strategic Support Area as part of our new doctrine (Multi-Domain Operations). You then moved right into leading the Army through our Housing Campaign. From there you developed our much-needed Facility Investment Strategy that will solve Army problems and save millions of dollars. Then COVID hit.

“Any one of these could drive another organization to its knees, but not here” Perna concluded. “Now that we’re blocking, tackling and getting things in place, we are well-positioned to take it to the next level. Press!”