MG McKenrick reflects on time at JMC, Fort Bliss
By Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Bugle Managing Editor:
(El Paso, Texas, April 13, 2017) Several changes have taken place in the 20 months Maj. Gen. Terry McKenrick has commanded the U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command here.
Most notably, McKenrick has overseen the command’s yearlong Joint National Training Capability accreditation, the name change of the command and a principle exercise and a switch to using a rotational unit, currently the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for exercises. That is not to mention the ongoing interoperability improvements with multinational partners and plans for an exercise in Germany.
For McKenrick, who will relinquish command at a ceremony here April 25, the changes are part of an ongoing process to accommodate the changing needs of the Army, and he has set the command up to succeed for future changes.
“We will continue to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of the Army,” McKenrick said in an interview here April 4. “We’ve demonstrated how we can continue to change what we’re doing to meet the needs of the Army and I anticipate that will continue in the future.”
The JMC, formerly the Brigade Modernization Command, has conducted realistic and rigorous operational exercises since 2011 to provide Soldier feedback on emerging concepts and capabilities that will improve the combat effectiveness of the Joint Force. Those exercises have included Network Integration Evaluation exercises and the former Army Warfighting Assessment exercises, now called U.S. Army Joint Warfighting Assessment exercises.
“We’re working with U.S. Army Europe headquarters, the 7th Army Training Command and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center to be able to take another rotational unit,” McKenrick said. “That unit hasn’t been committed yet, but we expect that unit to be committed soon … and that will be our first time with a rotational unit overseas.”
The command has brigade headquarters personnel from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Canada committed to participate, McKenrick said.
“This will be an important exercise for our multinational partners and NATO partners that will participate from Europe and also some of our other close partners from around the world,” McKenrick said.
As with other exercises, multinational military personnel will focus on improving interoperability, whether it involves communication with a coalition network and secure tactical voice, or a shared common operational picture, McKenrick said.
“We will always deploy alongside our joint and multinational partners,” McKenrick said, “so we want to take advantage of these exercises to improve our interoperability.”
In addition, Army leaders are considering changing the command’s NIE exercises to Capabilities Integration Evaluation exercises, McKenrick said. The change, which could take place by 2020, would better reflect that the command is focused on testing and evaluating network and non-network capabilities.
Also, Army leaders are in the early stages of planning for the Army’s first Multi-Domain Task Force here, which would take advantage of the great training areas at Fort Bliss, the 1st Armored Division’s units and the expertise of the JMC, McKenrick said.
The task force, which would support U.S. Army Pacific, will likely be operational by fiscal year 2019, McKenrick said.
McKenrick, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, arrived at Fort Bliss in 2014 and originally held the position of 1st AD and Fort Bliss deputy commanding general of operations. While at 1st AD, he deployed to lead the U.S. Central Command Forward mission in Jordan. After a year, he took over command of the JMC.
“I really thank the team that I worked with here at the Joint Modernization Command,” McKenrick said. “They’re great professionals. They’re very dedicated and hardworking, and through our NIE and JWA exercises they make critical advancements in modernization for our Army.”
In addition, McKenrick said the Soldiers of Fort Bliss and members of the El Paso community have impressed him.
“I’ve been amazed by the great synergy that exists across Fort Bliss, with all the units supporting each other in the accomplishment of their missions, and the great support by the El Paso community for all of our Soldiers and their families,” McKenrick said.
Next, McKenrick said he will be the deputy commanding general for operations for U.S. Army Central, with their forward headquarters deployed in Kuwait.
“It’s a very different mission from what I’m doing now, going back to the operational Army, and it will be a very important mission at a critical time,” McKenrick said. “… It promises to be a challenging assignment and I’m looking forward to it.”
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