MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga --
Braving South Georgia’s summer heat and surrounded by gnats on June 26, was the newest commanding officer for Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., Col. Terry V. Williams.
Amid the fanning, excitement, curiosity and whispers was the arrival of a new, fresh face, eager to take command of the Marine Corps’ ‘best kept secret’ from outgoing commanding officer, Col. C.N. Haliday.
Williams sat down for an in-depth interview to discuss his vision, priorities and goals for MCLB Albany after his 90-day review and assessment, which consisted of in-calls with department heads, site and office visits and personal observations.
“My vision for the base is to be a forward looking, customer focused, quality and data driven, cost-effective provider of installations-related support and services. Of course our primary focus is on the warfighter, so anything that is in support of the war is where we will focus our primary effort,” Williams said.
Williams said it does not mean the base will not support other efforts, but when it comes to resource challenges, that is where the priorities are. His long-term vision is also to transition to a green base.
“I also want to have an empowered and creative workforce, especially due to current and future budget constraints. We have to be real creative and empowered at the lowest levels in order to overcome some of those constraints,” he said.
Q: What are some of your green base initiatives?
A: I strongly support current initiatives such as the landfill gas project, one of the keystone projects of the green base initiative, which will allow MCLB Albany to take methane gas created from the Dougherty County landfill and pump it in to the base with a special generator in order to generate enough of our own electricity to help the base achieve some of its energy goals.
We want to be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase our use of alternative fuel energy. In addition, we will be going through and retrofitting every single building with meters, control boxes and light fixtures so we can gauge and control our usage.
Another goal I have is to expand on the geothermal technology like we have in the new public-private venture housing units where the ground water is used to heat and
Williams said that his plans also include looking at the existing garrison mobile equipment fleet and transitioning to electrical forklifts and vehicles, where appropriate, as well as some hybrids and the use of compressed natural gas, biofuels and even hydrogen vehicles if possible.
“My vision for the educational community is to expand on
those relationships where I can and where it makes sense. I want to work with Albany State University and the two colleges, (Albany Technical and Darton College) to take advantage of some of the curriculum to help develop our staff and to help teach us some of the industry standards such as technology, computer information systems and culinary arts programs,” he said.
Williams said that Albany Technical College already works with some of the police and fire department personnel, but we can also assist them by providing guest speakers, assisting with various activities and volunteering where we can.
Q: What are your thoughts on the existing tenant relationships and what is your vision going forward?
A: I would like our tenant relationships to focus on customer service because our sole purpose is to support all of our tenants here on base. We would not have a mission if Marine Corps Logistics Command or any of the other tenants were not on this base. We will look at all avenues of support in order to provide that level of service in the most cost effective and efficient way.
I also want to change a little bit about how we approach our customer and become more customer-oriented. Internally, understanding our fiscally restrained environment, I am leaning on the staff to really start capturing and creating a cost for services so we know exactly how much it costs to operate, provide a service or provide support. Once we understand that, then we can truly calculate what our actual bottom line costs are to provide support to our tenants and what we need to support the mission of this base.
Q: What are your plans for training and other opportunities for Marines and increasing support to them?
A: With the small number of Marines that we have here, sometimes they can lose that warrior ethos and we hope to be able to bring that back with some new initiatives. We are looking at some of the old housing units that can be retained for training by the Marines and also used by our police and fire departments.
We also want to step up our assistance to the police and fire departments which will allow our Marines to get back into that warrior ethos by providing rapid reaction force training that is more realistic and pertinent to what the police and fire departments are doing and in turn, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Williams said his command has also stepped up their professional military education training as evidenced by a recent trip to Andersonville, Ga., with the staff noncommissioned officers and officers. PME training is absolutely essential for leaders to understand the past so that when they find themselves in a situation, they can apply some of those principles that they learned.
We will continue to meet our annual requirements with the pistol and rifle ranges and the swim qualifications in order to maintain the Marines’ basic warrior proficiency. We want to get creative so they don’t get bored with the routine things we do here, like go to other training as a unit to places like Ft. Benning, Ga.
Another priority is to support the cadet training with the Reserved Officer’s Training Corps unit at Albany State because by teaching others, it allows the Marines to be the example and it holds them to a higher standard because those college students will look to them as true warriors. It also doesn’t allow them to let their guard down and miss what they are not getting at Camp Lejeune, N.C., or Camp Pendleton, Calif. ASU’s ROTC recently used our obstacle course as part of building that relationship.
When possible, our Marines volunteer with the local Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps units in the high schools to assist with training those cadets. Some of the units come on base to use our facilities and we have Marines who volunteer, but we want to try to encourage it more as a leadership piece that we can provide to those young students.
Williams said that another priority is to solidify the agreements for MCLB Albany’s safe haven mission.
“A few weeks ago, a group of us went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., to meet with the staff there to talk about some of the issues. We are now in the process of discussing some things internally so we can give some definitive answers back to them about what we can offer and what things are contingent upon when a storm hits,” he said.
Q: Can you give me an example of a potential issue?
A: For instance, with reset coming up and the mine resistant ambush protected vehicles coming back to LOGCOM, there may be times when a particular warehouse is not what we are able to give them because it is already full of equipment. This means that we may not be able to nail down a specific space, but there will be other warehouses that can accommodate them, if needed. I think we owe it to the Marine Corps to make the transition much easier and seamless.
Q: How do you feel about the new public-private venture housing that just recently opened for Marines and their families?
A: The new housing is phenomenal. For years the government-owned and operated housing had problems with budget cuts. They often occurred at the expense of the facility’s maintenance and repair. Oftentimes you get funded at only 90 percent, which puts you in the negative from the outset. The result was that a lot of our housing had not been up to the standards of the local community for a long time.
What PPV allows us to do is to leverage a private entity, who is an expert in real estate and management, and by partnering with them, they are able to provide us with these beautiful and outstanding homes that are the equivalent or sometimes better than what you see in the local community. The recent grand opening was an exciting time and having walked through some of the new homes made me wish I were a young Marine again.
Williams added that the community-oriented concept with a community center for the residents is one of the many amenities the Marines and their families who live in Hill Village will enjoy.
Q: What are the plans for new housing for the single enlisted Marines?
A: We are excited about the new bachelor’s enlisted quarters that will be built over the next year. This will greatly enhance the quality of life for these young Marines who are single.
We are also looking to take it further and provide a Marriott-like style management of those quarters which will help us maintain them better by having an on-site person in charge of running the day-to-day operations. We hope to have in place a civilian professional who understands how to manage a hotel-like facility. There is a pilot study being done in Hawaii, but we already know we need a professional manager to manage them.
Q: Is this the same role that the existing barracks sergeant has?
A: This person replaces the barracks sergeant, who in many cases is short-term and does not know the barracks nor has the training to take care of a facility like this. It is one of my goals - to get someone who can oversee and manage the new barracks and ensure that it remains in outstanding condition for the next 50 years.
Lastly, our Wi-Fi project is almost complete, which will allow the base to have a number of ‘hot spots’ for connectivity to the internet. Hot spots will include places such as the new exchange, library and bowling alley just to name a few.
Williams said that another important goal of his is to visit the other bases, especially in Georgia, regardless of their branch of service.
“I want to see what they are doing in areas such as energy generation, alternative fuels, security, morale, welfare and recreation support, to see if there is anyway we can mimic. I want to take their good ideas or get on board with them to defray some of our costs. We want to find the best way to provide services and support to our Marines and tenants on the base,” he said.
Q: What are your ideas for improving traffic congestion and gate security?
A: We hope to be able to open the Mock Road gate entrance for all of the commercial traffic. This will help us reduce traffic in the mornings on Fleming Road so the personnel there can conduct inspections as required.
We also want to upgrade our technology so it is easier and quicker to bring authorized people on the base, specifically for those who hold identification cards and decals. The technology will be similar to the Smart Tag readers in Virginia or EZ Pass readers in Florida, making it more efficient for tenants and base personnel to get on the base.
Q: A draft encroachment control plan was just completed. What are your thoughts regarding some of the findings?
A: When I look at the draft encroachment plan, I see internal issues, especially as the safe haven for four Marine Corps organizations. If we had an issue with one of them being here for an extended period of time, that would impede on the mission of LOGCOM and our other tenants. This is why it is so important for us to solidify our agreements with them and nail down exactly what we can provide. We also have the Federal Emergency Management Agency issue, which is tied to disaster relief.
“We must think far in advance and look at every aspect, including working with our community, to prevent jeopardizing ourselves in the future,” he said.
Q: What are your thoughts about the community here?
A: I’ve said it before that so far, this has been one of the best places for community relationships of all the places I have been in the Marine Corps. There is a great level of respect and friendliness that has been shown to me and my family since our arrival.
This community has really embraced us and the fact that they will bend over backwards to embrace this base and the Marines has been evident since, and I am absolutely excited about working with them. I am trying to do more for and with the community and feel we should find more ways to give back.
Kent Morrison, executive director, Office of the Commanding Officer, MCLB Albany, said, “It has been a real pleasure working with Colonel Williams. He is bringing new and fresh ideas to the command. His enthusiasm is infectious to us all as he lays out his plans for making MCLB a better place to work and live. Of particular note is his genuine concern for all of the employees and the positive interaction he has with them and his emphasis on providing exemplary installation support services to our number one customer, our tenants, so they may provide the critical support needed for the warfighters.”
Williams added that currently, there are no base orders or policies he will change at this time, but will know more after reviewing the internal and external inspections and feedback from his initial assessment recently shared with the directors and special staff in his command.
“Other means such as interactive customer evaluation comments and surveys will also be considered. All of the information we gather will be taken into account and put together to determine what needs to be done next,” he said.
Lt. Col. Donald R. Finn, director, Operations and Training Division, MCLB Albany, said, “Colonel Williams came in and set his expectations right from the beginning. He challenged us to provide premier customer support to our tenants, focus on energy efficiency and maintain a strategic outlook towards future installation requirements through 2025. He has an infectious can-do attitude, willingness to listen to all sides of an issue, and shows a genuine concern for the entire workforce as a whole.”
Williams, a native of Santa Monica, Calif., is married with two sons. He is the first African-American commanding officer in the base’s 57-year history.