Army MARS Adopts New Leadership System
Army MARS Chief Stephen G. Klinefelter has implemented a major leadership realignment: Under the new organization chart, the 11 Regional Directors -- all volunteers -- will assume the day-to-day management responsibility previously exercised from the Army MARS Headquarters at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. “You will tell us if you can take on a task and you will tell us the resources you need,” Klinefelter told the Directors earlier this month at a conference in Dallas. “Our responsibility at Army MARS Headquarters will be to provide the training and the resources and to support you. You’re in charge. You’re responsible.”
According to Army MARS Public Information Officer Bill Sexton, N1IN, Klinefelter had previously constituted the region directors as his MARS Government Executive Board (MGEB), which he described as a more appropriate decision-making mechanism for volunteers than the Army’s traditional top-down chain of command. “Like a Company Commander in the Army, the Region and State Directors -- who will carry much of the load of leadership -- are circumscribed by existing rules and regulations from above,” Sexton explained. “There was no discussion of changing Headquarters control of the appointments for State and Regional Director.”
To date, the MGEB has conducted two teleconferences to begin reviewing Army MARS’ existing policies. “Members should be aware that the MGEB is making the decisions about how Army MARS goes into the future,” explained Region 1 (New England) Director Robert Mims, WA1OEZ. “The Chief feels that the Headquarters staff is there to support the membership, rather than the other way around.”
In addition to establishing a new governance system, the Dallas session also broke precedent by convening the senior volunteer leadership in one place for the first time ever. “Except for possibly one or two, the current Regional Directors had never met face-to-face before,” Sexton said. “The government-funded gathering was seen as evidence that the Army is serious about supporting the MARS operation after years of shrinking its budget.”
Klinefelter told the Directors that this fall, the small contingent at Army HARS Headquarters in Fort Huachuca will add a full-time civilian Program Officer. The person who fills this new position will have extensive Amateur Radio experience, as well as upper-level Army experience. Sexton explained that serving as Army MARS Chief is an additional duty for Klinefelter. “The Chief is a senior Operations Officer at the Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM),” he said. “Army MARS reports to NETCOM, and the new Program Officer will report to Klinefelter.”
Sexton noted that during the Dallas conference, the MGEB adopted a fresh approach for managing support relationships with civil agencies across the board, including Winlink 2000 and created three new volunteer posts: Winlink 2000 Liaison Officer, Chief Technology Officer and Overseas Liaison.
The final day brought the first program initiative from the MGEB itself: Michigan State Director Dave Bock, W8OHS, who was representing Region 5, outlined a method of organizing training programs and then tracking their results that the Army has used. “His proposal was welcomed by Operations Chief David McGinnis, a HQ staffer who had previously been volunteer national training coordinator,” Sexton said. “No vote was taken on accepting the new responsibilities, but the comments were enthusiastic. Bock told the others that this change reflected his Army experience in Vietnam (where he had served) that micromanagement from above doesn’t work.”
Of the 11 Army MARS regions, eight were represented by their Regional Directors. Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) was represented by the Michigan State Director. Region 3 (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC) had no representative, because neither the Director, nor any key staff, could take time off from work to attend the conference. Region 11 (outside the continental US) was absent, as trans-Atlantic plane fare had not been authorized (but he kept in close touch via e-mail).