Quo Vadis?

Commander's Column

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard

The holiday season marks the end of another year of growth and change at Fort George G. Meade and prompts each of us to ask where we are going in 2017.

The past year brought growth to Fort Meade — more professionals serving at the third most populous base in the Army, more roadways being paved and widened, more cyber-related structures being built, and more families needing support and community services.

As our post has grown, our funded capacity to support more than 55,000 service members, professional civilians, and their families has declined: The Army cut garrison staff in 2016, reduced the garrison budget, and has temporarily suspended further cuts to Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs as it faces over $100 million in shortfalls for those programs.

Leaders exhort me to “do less with less.” My unscientific poll of Fort Meade citizens yielded exactly zero family members or service members favoring even less support or fewer resources as they support missions protecting our national security.

Given this schism between popular growth and Federal support, we ask ourselves: Quo vadis — where are we going?

We look forward to our centennial celebration in 2017. From saddles to cyberspace, Fort George G. Meade has been on the front lines of defending our national security. From our beginnings as one of the first deployment platforms for doughboys in World War I, to the birthplace of the Army Tank Corps, to our role as a Nike Missile Control Center in the Cold War, to becoming the national platform for intelligence, information, and cyber operations today, Fort Meade has a bright outlook for 2017 and beyond.

We look forward to US Cyber Command becoming a Combatant Command, with authorities and scope not unlike US Special Operations Command. We look forward to the outstanding support of our community partners who help us find libraries, child care facilities, exercise facilities, and excellent housing when we have outgrown our own.

We look forward to opening the Llewellyn Avenue gate this spring, continuing the widening of our roads and control points, and establishing a comprehensive readiness center for all in/out-processing actions at Pershing Hall, adjacent to the parade field.

We look forward to 2017 knowing that change presents opportunity and sometimes fear. Our garrison team has changed its Garrison Commander, Garrison CSM, Garrison Deputy Commander (deployed to Afghanistan), Headquarters Battalion Commander, Headquarters CSM, and Deputy Garrison Commander for Transformation — all within a six-month period.

Such change may be par for Brigade Combat Teams; such change is unprecedented for USAG Meade. We ask our community not to fear. The strength of the garrison team has always been, and will always be, the highly experienced and professional directorates of USAG Meade. We will continue to provide excellent service to the extremely talented community that is unique to Fort Meade.

We do not want to “do less with less.” We must provide at least the same support in spite of fewer funds and personnel.

We will succeed only as a community — as Team Meade. Where we do not have staff for certain programs, we implore our community for volunteers. Where we cannot sustain certain services on post, we will seek comparable services off post with help from our gracious community partners. Where we find little demand for on-post services, we will shift resources to those services with strong demand.

However, each of us must be clear-eyed about what we truly need versus what we want or expect: We serve to support and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We accept hardship just as we enjoy our special status as professional civilians or service members.

We each have much to be thankful for in 2016, even if many of us experienced personal loss.

The garrison team is extremely grateful for all the outstanding volunteers and superb support from our generous community partners. We simply could not support this great post without your efforts.

We are especially thankful for the opportunity to serve the top talent in our nation here at Fort Meade — a wonderful place to serve, learn, and live. The garrison team is here to serve you, and we love what we do.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the US Army Garrison of Team Meade!

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