By T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs
FORT LEE, Va. – A former enlisted Soldier and current Finance Corps officer has taken over the reigns as commander of the U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee.
Col. Adam W. Butler, who served as an infantryman in the enlisted ranks, replaced Col. Paul K. Brooks during a change of command ceremony June 29 at the filled-to-capacity Lee Club main ballroom.
The occasion was hosted by Davis D. Tindoll Jr., director, Atlantic Region, Army Installation Management Command. He was joined in attendance by Maj. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, and a long list of others including senior military leaders, government civilians and local dignitaries.
Butler, who comes to the installation after duties in Afghanistan, spoke briefly following lengthy remarks by Brooks. He thanked “God for this blessing” and the senior leadership for providing the opportunity to lead the organization that manages the installation’s services and infrastructure.
He also thanked his family, several of whom were in attendance and especially his wife Cheryl, for her “unwavering love and support …,” he said. “I wouldn’t be standing here today without her.”
A San Antonio native, Butler also thanked all those connected with staging the ceremony and organizing a “seamless transition.” He concluded his remarks by saying he is enthusiastic about his new position.
“I look forward to working, learning and growing with the Fort Lee sustainment team of professionals as well as those from the surrounding communities,” he said. “I know this is a wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to working with you.”
Butler previously served as director, J-8, U.S. Forces Afghanistan. He also has served on the Department of the Army staff as deputy director, Resource Integration, Deputy chief of Staff, G2; and G-8, 1st Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Other notable assignments include chief, Centrally Managed Programs, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. His overseas assignments include one tour of duty in Bosnia-Herzegovina and two in Iraq.
Brooks, also a former enlisted Soldier, served three years as the garrison commander. He came to Fort Lee at a time when personnel cuts and budget shortfalls were constant threats to the mission, compiling an impressive record of achievement. Tindoll noted one of Brooks’ many accomplishments.
“Under his leadership, Fort Lee led the way in developing an online performance tool to accurately measure the capability of services provided to the customer; a tool that is now used throughout the Installation Management Command at 75 installations,” said Tindoll.
Additionally, Brooks supported the implementation of business practices responsible for moving several Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities to profitability, said Tindoll, improving “the quality of life for our Soldiers, families and retirees.”
Brooks’ impact also was felt beyond the installation. Tindoll highlighted Brooks’ work with local leaders to find solutions to common problems and his efforts supporting the governor’s office on education and employment initiatives affecting Soldiers and their families. He cited an example of Brooks’ exemplary performance.
“Due to his outreach efforts in April 2016, Fort Lee received The Good Neighbor Award from the Virginia region of the American Red Cross,” said Tindoll.
He also said the job of garrison commander is fraught with complexity due to a mishmash of customers, service requirements and hierarchies of command that influence policies and decisions. Tindoll said Brooks became adept at managing it all.
“Integration and synchronization of services is hard work,” he said. ”Through timely and effective communication and by aligning the garrison goals and objectives with those of the senior commander and integrating these capabilities of the garrison, Paul has made these complex challenges appear routine. I offer to you that leadership like that deserves applause.”
Audience members then enthusiastically applauded.
Brooks, during his remarks, thanked the garrison and CASCOM communities, the tenant organizations and leaders from the local communities in making his work richly rewarding and less demanding.
“I am a blessed man, and I’m here because of the people I’ve been surrounded by,” he said in his usual above-conversation-tone of voice. “… This job – this place – has been an incredibly rewarding experience; one that is really difficult to put into words. That has a lot more to do with the people than anything else.”
Undoubtedly, Brooks’ tenure here was marked by his connection with those he served alongside. He was approachable, somewhat informal, always positive and uncanny. In an awards ceremony that preceded the change of command, Williams said those attributes and a deft set of leadership skills endeared people to him and he easily earned the title of “my commander” versus that of “the commander.”
“The level of respect you attain is what’s symbolic about that subtle change in the way people refer to you,” he said in a ceremony in which he awarded Brooks the Legion of Merit. “When they take complete ownership of you, you notice another switch and they begin to call you ‘my commander.’ When they’re talking to other people, it is no longer ‘Col. Brooks,’ it’s ‘my commander said.’ I can honestly say that on this installation – although I hear his name quite often – I also hear the phrase ‘my commander,’ and so that is the ultimate sign of respect from any organization in terms of the way they feel about their commander.”
Brooks, who married his fiancée, Karla, the day prior to the change of command, is on his way to Huntsville, Ala.. where he is slotted to serve with the Army Materiel Command.