Training Soldiers is a key mission of Fort Jackson. It is the ‘core, no-fail mission’ mission of Fort Jackson and calls for the post to innovate to meet the Army needs. (Courtesy Photo)

‘What I’ve inherited is good:’ Kelly lauds post during 90-day assessment

 By Robert Timmons, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Every commander assesses the status of their command within 90 days of taking leadership of the organization.

For Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Army Training Center and Fort Jackson commander, his 90-day assessment was “that period where you take a few laps around the track and garner an appreciation of what you’ve inherited.”

“In this case, what I’ve inherited is good,” he said while sitting down with The Leader.

The assessment is a way for the commander to see “what the organization is doing, to sort of plant your flag, know where you want to go and charge a suitable way ahead.”

Kelly took command of Fort Jackson during a ceremony at Victory Field, Aug. 31.

In a memorandum sent to Maj. Gen. John D. Kline, Center for Initial Military Training commander, Kelly wrote:

“These first three months were more rewarding than any time in my service career. I experienced first-hand the tenacity, professionalism, and dedication this team demonstrates daily. I am confident in the ability and character of the leaders, Soldiers, and (Department of the) Army Civilians at Fort Jackson to continue this strategic mission and generate readiness for the Total Army.”

Kelly added, “there is no place I’d rather be than right here. I am honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Team Jackson and train the future generation of our Army. We will deepen leader commitments to our workforce; improve the quality of life for our Soldiers, Army Civilians, and Families; and build on the incredible community relationships established in the great state of South Carolina.”

In the memo he assessed the post’s lines of effort: People First, Training and Developing Leader, Quality of Life, and Community Engagement.

People First

According to Kelly, the most important thing an organization can do “is to keep people first.”

The talent on Fort Jackson is “unmatched” Kelly said during the interview.

“The talent on Fort Jackson is as good as anywhere I’ve been in my military career. Soldiers and cadre on post have proven themselves in their ability to train and develop the next generation of warriors. Kelly noted the opportunity to strengthen the bonds with Family members, so the Soldiers can focus on the mission at hand.

Army Civilians are a “human connection to the vital systems” on post and must be taken care of. Kelly said one way to do this is through programs like the Civilian Fitness and Wellness Program – which helps “our people adopt healthy lifestyles and live to their full potential.”

Families are also important to Fort Jackson. They provide a motivation to accomplish the mission.

Training and Developing Leaders

Transforming civilians into Soldiers is one of Fort Jackson main missions. It is the “core, no-fail mission” mission of Fort Jackson and calls for the post to innovate to meet the Army needs. Ways this is accomplished are through an emphasis on Basic Combat Training, the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, and working with the Partners in Excellence.

Kelly said the FSPC’s success is due to the quality of personnel assigned to the unit. He cautioned Army leadership that “attempting to replicate the course at other sites will require a careful selection of leaders and cadre.”

Fort Jackson has an opportunity through the FSPC to positively affect “accessions, our impact on our recruiting mission” by highlighting how “we are helping those that want to serve and join our team.”

He noted in his assessment that deliberate professional development improves the quality of training drill sergeants give to trainees.

Quality of Life

The superb healthcare on post and the outstanding childcare services are a force multiplier to the training mission, and the amazing depth and variety of services and programs provided by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation are contributing to make Fort Jackson an installation of choice.

However, there are places where a renewed command emphasis is needed – family housing, dining facilities and barracks maintenance. He noted in the assessment that quality of life includes a renewed emphasis on food quality in the dining facilities, responsiveness to maintenance requests in on-post housing, and improvements to barracks issues.

Kelly in November personally walked through the housing areas to meet with residents to hear their concerns firsthand.

Community Engagement

Engaging with the community, both on and off post, while assisting in Army recruitment efforts is important to Kelly.

“Another thing that jumps out at me is the support of the community,” Kelly said. There are many academic institutions right outside the gates including the University of South Carolina, Benedict College and Allen University where he sees an opportunity to increase engagement. “There are opportunities there.”

The post is also in “concert” with state, local governments right outside the gate offering “boundless possibilities.”

Fort Jackson needs to ensure communities are informed of the great things Soldiers, Civilians and Family members are doing on post.

“Good things are happening at Fort Jackson; we must market and share this truth with more of our Army and our nation,” Kelly said. It will help improve morale of the community, while also assisting in the recruitment of new Soldiers.

“I think sharing that with a broader audience, making sure we don't just do that for the local area,” he said. “It is something that we have to do better.”

He concluded by saying, “We need to make sure we are communicating in a way that resonates with the community. There’s a lot happening here and there’s much to be proud of, but you don’t know, and you won’t, if you’re not aware.”