by Nel Lampe
After a “fast three years,” Col. Eugene B. Smith relinquishes command of the Fort Carson U.S. Army Garrison Tuesday in a 10 a.m. ceremony on Manhart Field.
A full plate awaited Smith when he arrived at Fort Carson.
“The big thing that’s been on Fort Carson’s plate for a while has been a lot of restationing, specifically, bringing the 4th Infantry Division back home to Fort Carson and making sure we had the facilities and services to do that,” said Smith.
“In the last three years, Fort Carson has undergone the largest growth since its founding in 1942,” Smith said. “So literally, how the post was like three years ago and today is tremendously different.”
Since he’s been here, the garrison’s vision of Fort Carson “is to be the best hometown in the Army. We’ve (garrison staff) worked diligently to ensure we live up to our vision,” Smith said.
The garrison workforce, which is almost all Army civilians, was a bonus.
“It was one of the joys of coming into garrison,” he said. “You’ve got the great talent of senior directors who’ve been doing their jobs for an awful long time. They bring a lot of knowledge and skill to what they’re doing.
“Sometimes my role is cheerleader,” Smith said with a chuckle.
“We call ourselves a professional team of teams. As leaders, we can’t ask for anything better than to have a workforce that is committed to make things better – that has a love of Soldiers and is trying to provide the best service,” Smith said.
A host of volunteers support the garrison staff in its mission.
“Fran (my wife) has been working with Army Community Service and the mayors to improve our family programs. I could not do what I do without her support and love. She has made Fort Carson a better place to live and work.”
“Fran Smith has been the ACS ‘den mother,’ bringing in cookies and food when she knew the ACS staff was working on a weekend,” said Pat Randle, director of ACS. “She has been so supportive.
“When you know you need something and you don’t know what it is … for us, it was Fran Smith,” Randle said.
“Fran was involved in Army Family Team Building, Army Family Action Plan and Army 101 – a program offered to community partners and organizations. Regardless of the program, her concern has always been the welfare of the Soldiers and Families,” Randle said.
“Col. Smith’s legacy will be his focus on the workforce,” said McDonald Kemp, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “He made sure the workforce got the attention it deserved and that meant a lot to us (the staff).”
Smith held town hall meetings, brown-bag lunches and ad hoc employee committees, and got garrison to plan as a team, and to respect others’ programs and the planning process, Kemp said.
“He has a deep sense of respect for the civilian workforce at all levels,” said Command Sgt. Maj. James A. Kilpatrick Jr., garrison command sergeant major. “He tries to reach out to them so they know they are important in what they do. He tries to find ways to give recognition to people for their efforts.”Smith said the greatest challenge during his tenure at Fort Carson was the synchronization of all the growth activities.
“Everybody can see the buildings going up, but it wasn’t just the buildings. We had infrastructure, such as utilities, and we had to make sure our requirements match the buildings. We had to make sure that information technology was backboned and to make sure the permission to grow the work was adequate,” he said.
While the transformation of Fort Carson may have been the number one issue, along the way there were interesting times, Smith said.
Such as the two fires on Fort Carson last year.
“We’ve got great relationships along the Front Range with external fire-fighting organizations and we have (our own) great wild land fire program,” Smith said.
Smith said he considers one of the greatest accomplishments that occurred during his watch to be the Type 3 incident management team that was built from scratch.
“That means we can handle real regional emergencies. Not only did we build it from scratch, we got in a lot of experience in the fires,” he said. “We also got recognition up and down the Front Range for that capability. That’s a lot of hard work by a lot of people (on the garrison staff). There’s no other organization on the Front Range that has that type team.”
Jake Jacob, deputy director of Emergency Services, said that having a Type 3 incident management team is just tremendous.
“Col. Smith was involved and in tune with whatever was going on.
If there was a fire, there were two people I would count on (being there) when I arrived: a guy with a hose would be one of them and Col. Smith would be the other,” Jacob said.
The second item Smith listed under accomplishments was the sustainability efforts at Fort Carson.
“In this region, we are recognized as a leader in the sustainability program. Fort Carson also has a national and international reputation (in that arena). I met a speaker at a conference of garrison commanders who was from Canada. As soon as he knew
I was from Fort Carson, he started asking about our solar array.”
The solar array on Fort Carson, the largest on an Army post, came about as a partnership among the military, state government, the private sector and utilities.
Smith said that one of the great things about Fort Carson is that it is surrounded by a very supportive community.
“The best community for supporting the military that I’ve ever seen in my almost 28 years of service. In this community – it comes from the heart.”
Leaving Fort Carson, Smith will be heading for Fort Shafter, Hawaii, in July, where he will be the deputy of Installation Management Command Pacific Region.