Fort McCoy News Feb. 26, 2016

Nott: Fort McCoy 'will continue to be successful'

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Steven W. Nott assumed command Feb. 29, 2012. In the four years since, he has seen a lot of changes and improvements at the installation, but to him the best part of it has been the people he's worked with along the way.

"The biggest pleasure … has been working with what I consider the gold standard of IMCOM (Installation Management Command)," Nott said. "(The workforce's) reputation preceded my arrival, and that's why I fought to get here. And I've never had to question it since.

Photo: Garrison Commander Col. Steven W. Nott talks to members of the Fort McCoy community in January.
Garrison Commander Col. Steven W. Nott talks to members of the Fort McCoy community in January. Photo by Lou Ann M. Mittelstaedt

"We have folks who are fully dedicated, incredibly talented, not afraid to have their voices be heard, and really are professionals," Nott said. "When a decision is made, they support it. It's why Fort McCoy has been and will continue to be successful."

Getting right to work

Nott's appreciation for the people who work at Fort McCoy began from the day he started, he said. The first thing he noticed was a professional environment.

"This post was firing on all cylinders before I arrived," Nott said. "The success of this post isn't determined so much by commanders as it is by the workforce and the culture they either choose to adopt or not. In this case, Fort McCoy was then, and still is, all in. These are folks who understand that we have a set of values that guide who we are, and we have a real mission that is very, very important. And they all take pride in that and they should.

"When I first arrived, obviously the fire hose (of information sharing) was turned on," Nott said. "I was learning everything I needed to know about Fort McCoy, whether it was infrastructure, processes, or people."

While the post was doing well across the board, Nott said he and the Fort McCoy team quickly identified some things that could be improved.

"The first was that Fort McCoy needed to move beyond routine communications with our neighbors to more direct community involvement," he said. "We are very fortunate to have the communities we have and the support they bring in this area. It's certainly among the strongest community support I have seen in my career."

Years of growth

At his first Fort McCoy Senior Management Board meeting in March 2012, Nott said he really had to take in a lot of information to understand everything that took place on post. However, what he didn't realize at the time was that a long discussion over one briefing slide would change the course of Fort McCoy's mission for years to come.

"One of the discussion points was on the cantonment area capacity," Nott said. "There's a finite amount of capacity on this post, such as how many square feet do we have, how many range complexes do we have, and what is our capacity of troops that we can hold? In this particular case, it spoke to what percentage of our capacity was dedicated toward tenant activities, what percentage was used by garrison activities, and then what remaining portion was dedicated toward the transient training population — our main customers and our reason for existence.

"The question was how did we know what right looked like, because we'd had a mission change about six months (prior)," he said. "And that discussion led into a direction that was really exciting to see."

In fiscal year 2012, the number of troops training at Fort McCoy per year averaged more than 120,000. Nott said he knew the team would make that number grow.

In that first meeting, based off that one capacity slide, Nott said the entire leadership team of directors and command group decided they needed to relook at how capacity is used. "We thought it was realistic that within four years we should be able to have a new steady state of a 150,000 (troop training) throughput," he said.

"The record we set this past (fiscal) year for 155,000-plus wasn't by chance," Nott said. "We set a goal and, then, the team started to figure out how to get there. … (The team) has moved us to where we now provide a Total Force, joint, interagency, multinational capability that is second to none. More and more customers are coming, and the word of what we can do here is just growing and growing. This 150,000, I know, is the new standard."

Strategic planning success

Nott said the fiscal year 2015 training record of 155,237 service members also was due to the successful strategic-planning efforts of many years.

"The Fort McCoy Strategic Plan is second only to the people in its importance," Nott said. "In maintaining a strong, robust, strategically relevant installation here in western Wisconsin, the strategic plan identifies the goal of where we think we should be in the future. And then we create a road map to get there. We do not leave this to chance.

"The strategic plan addresses those training platforms and internal and external processes that are absolutely crucial to us," Nott said. "The plan is about creating and shaping our future to make sure that we are always at the cutting edge. If we don't have a strategic plan — and believe me there are a lot of our competitors who don't — then we will be like everybody else and we'll just roll the dice. That wouldn't be good for us, and it would be a huge disservice to the military members who come here to train. We should be giving them the best training opportunities available in the Department of Defense, and I think right now we do."

And again, the success of the plan is dependent on the people who make it happen, Nott said. He believes the future is in good hands.

"When I first arrived, we had a lot of the workforce who had been here for many decades," Nott said. "My tenure has been one here that has seen a lot of turnover and transition. A tremendous number of people have retired (or) are soon to retire. So, there is going to be a new generation in charge.

"I think they are going to continue to recognize the strength of how (the strategic plan) impacts their own happiness and sense of being here. ... Fort McCoy will continue to rise in relevance in the Department of Defense," Nott said.

Family, future plans

The March 11 change-of-command and retirement ceremonies will mark the end of Nott's tenure as garrison commander and recognize his 31 years of Army service. The colonel said his success in the Army has had a lot to do with the support he's received from the military Family and his personal Family.

"I think the Army gets it right when they say the strength of the Soldier comes from the strength of the Family," Nott said. "It is immensely more difficult to pursue a long career in the military if you do not have a supportive Family behind you.

"I have been very, very fortunate," Nott said. "Charlotte (Nott's wife) has been all in. She is a professional. She identifies with the Army and its mission as part of her own personal identity. And she has always been there for me and for any Solider in any community where we lived.

"The kids have been remarkable in their understanding with the moves. I know it has hurt them, and they have shared that with me," he said. "But they have always understood, and I know now that when I get the calls on an early Sunday morning and get called out, they get it."

Nott said Family support is especially crucial while serving in a command position.

"This is my own personal perspective — the Army talks about the importance of a Family, and they are absolutely right, but if you are willing to assume the (responsibility) of command, that makes it a bit different," Nott said. "We have had those discussions now on three different levels (company, battalion, and brigade). As a commander, Family often comes second. If you don't believe me, what happens when that call comes at 3 a.m. or if I am at a school concert when that call comes in? A commander has to go where a commander has to be. And so there is that cost. That's why anytime we put our hat in to compete for command, it was always a Family discussion."

After retirement, Nott said he and his Family will stay in the Fort McCoy area, and he will begin a new career opportunity in the private sector.

Read Col. Nott's farewell letter.