Post hosts furlough town hall meeting Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 July 2013
By Robert Johnson
Managing editor
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Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, hosted a town hall meeting July 2 in Nutter Field House to discuss the pending furloughs and brief the civilian workforce on his command philosophy.

“I want you to understand that this (furlough) will be painful for me, as I know it will be painful for you,” Smith said.
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Tom Murphy asks a question during the post’s meeting on the civilian furloughs July 2 in Nutter Field House. Photo by Melissa Buckley

“It’s important that we take the time to understand our mission and our vision for our organization,” Smith said. “This is what our Army and our nation expect us to do.”

Smith said during the furlough period it would not be “business as usual” in accomplishing Fort Leonard Wood’s missions.

“We have curtailed much of our TDY travel and 3,400 of our civilian employees will be furloughed beginning next week,” Smith said, adding that the decisions to furlough were made at the highest levels of the Department of Defense.

Smith said he has told leaders at all levels on the installation not to expect the same level of support they’ve become accustomed to because the personnel won’t be here.

While the budget cuts will affect Fort Leonard Wood’s mission, Smith acknowledged that the biggest impact would be to the individual workers and he reminded the civilian workforce that the installation has several systems and organizations set up to help individuals get through the furlough period.

“Don’t think you are alone on an island. We’re here to help. Seek out help early. Don’t wait. Don’t think there’s a problem we can’t help with, because we’re here to help,” he said.

Smith turned the forum over to Pam Welch, Civilian Personnel Center director. Welch reiterated the furlough process and how the scheduling of the furlough day should be handled.

Welch said that employees are not allowed to work on a furlough day, on site or by telework. Additionally, she stated that leave and sick days could not be used in substitution for furlough days.

Following comments of support by other key leaders, the forum was turned over to the audience for questions.    

Initial questions addressed whether the days had to be limited to one per week,  and when consecutive days might be permitted.

Other questions raised the issue about selection of the furlough day and lack of employee input in certain work areas.

Welch replied that the directive from the Army was that the days had to be nonconsecutive, but said that supervisors could contact CPAC for exceptions when the training impact could be reduced by combining days. Welch restated that supervisors should work with employees to establish the furlough day that works best for the organization and the individual.

Another concern raised by the audience was the reduction of fees for child care and that the current 20 percent reduction did not lower dual-income couples into lower brackets.

Wayne Bardell, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director, responded that the Department of the Army had directed the way the reductions would work, but if an individual had special circumstances, they could sit down with a counselor at Army Community Service and work out a budget. A recommendation letter from ACS could be considered to further reduce childcare expenses.

Smith said that better understanding his command philosophy could help organizations better handle the reductions in the work schedule and budget constraints.

Smith presented the audience with a short briefing on the philosophy of how he operates, what his expectations for the command are, and some personal information on his background.

Smith said his philosophy of command is tied to four simple areas: leading, training, caring and maintaining.

“Leading is leading in everything we do and giving the chance to others to be leaders,” Smith said. “We have to set the conditions for your success in your (future) career, today.”

“The second portion is training. We have to train those future leaders,” Smith said.

The third portion is “caring,” Smith said.

“Caring is not coddling. Caring is sometimes being tough and telling it like it is when you need to,” Smith said.

The final portion is “maintaining,” he said.

“We have to maintain ourselves,” Smith said. Maintaining is more than just about taking care of the equipment the Army uses, but also taking care and maintaining the individual, he explained.

Smith talked briefly about the future Army active duty force structure reductions.

Fort Leonard Wood will drop by 885 positions by 2019. That decision was made at multiple levels and is a very tough decision, Smith said.

“We will get through this, because that is what our nation wants us to do,” Smith said.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 July 2013 )