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Army addresses civilian town hall

Posted 11/17/2008   Updated 11/17/2008 Email story   Print story


by Tyler Hemstreet
Staff writer

11/17/2008 - MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- McChord civilian employees gathered Wednesday at the McChord Clubs and Community Center for a town hall forum to further discuss joint basing personnel issues and hear from leadership representing both services. 

The Army has been designated as the lead for Joint Base Lewis-McChord for managing and providing the base support services with an Army Joint Base commander and an Air Force deputy commander. 

The town hall was part of a continued effort by leadership to discuss joint basing candidly with Air Force civilian employees. 

"I'm all about doing the right thing andsorting through all of the issues that come up during joint basing," said Brig. Gen. Jeff Mathis, I Corps and Fort Lewis deputy commander. "We're going to take our time and get this done right the first time." 

Leadership from both sides continued to stress to employees in attendance the importance of each person's job and the role it plays in each service's unique mission. 

"You all have an incredibly important job - taking care of the warfighter," said Army Col. Cynthia Murphy, garrison commander at Fort Lewis. "If I take care of you, then you will take care of the warfighter." 

After showing slides illustrating what the current Fort Lewis leadership structure looks like, officials stressed that the structure for the new joint installation is still a work in progress, and that each civilian plays an important role. 

"We're working at it person-byperson, looking for the right combination," Colonel Murphy said. 

The presentation also touched on what type of jobs will transfer from the Air Force to the Army and the fact that no jobs will be lost during the process. 

"The installation support structure is going to grow," she said. "There will be more jobs to be had. I need to hire a lot more people." Colonel Murphy's stance on the job growth echoed similar statements made by Col. Jeffrey Stephenson, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, Sept. 24 at the first civilian town hall. 

The focused effort the functional working groups put in to identify any potential roadblocks and the solid working relationship displayed by leadership from the two services impressed community center director Josh Boisvert, 62nd Force Support Squadron. 

"Both (the Army and the Air Force) seem to be on the same page and really focused on putting their best foot forward," Mr. Boisvert said. 

And while Mr. Boisvert said he still has questions about how his Air Force position will transfer over to an Army position in relation to job description and pay grade, he is confident in leadership's ability to help him navigate the transition, if it should happen. 

Other audience questions arose about differences in Army and Air Force organizational methods and how that might create conflict. Colonel Murphy was quick to point out the need for flexibility throughout the process. 

"There are going to be different ways of doing things ... everybody is going to have to keep an open mind," she said. 

And while officials touched on the fact that there has been no guidance released yet on non-appropriated fund employees, they stressed employees shouldn't hold back if they have questions about the process. 

"We're working on this together," said Col. Shane Hershman, Air Mobility Command Joint Base Lewis-McChord initiative director. "If you run into a roadblock, let us know because we can cut through it." 

Wing leadership and planners will keep civilian employees informed as updates arrive and future town hall events are scheduled. Additional information, guidance and questions and answers can be found at McChord's sharepoint Web site at

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