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Buses, barracks, BOSS in new CSM’s sights

Published: 11:40AM January 16th, 2014
Buses, barracks, BOSS in new CSM’s sights

By Jake Dorsey/Northwest Guardian

Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin W. Bryan, left, assumes responsibility in a ceremony Jan. 8 at French Theater with base commander Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Headquarters’ newest command sergeant major has been described by his previous commander as “a sapper’s sapper.”

It’s a descriptor Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin W. Bryan proudly owns, but doesn’t allow to limit him in a position he’s unfamiliar with.

“This is a lot to take in initially,” said Bryan, who was command sergeant major for the 555th Engineer Brigade before coming to Installation Command. “It’ll be a little bit before I get my arms around all of this joint-base business stuff.”

That said, Bryan already has priorities.

Bryan, 50, said he wants to have far more shuttles on base, to pull as many cars off the base’s roads as possible. If he had his way, the shuttles would run similar to transit buses, following a regular schedule on which people could rely. The system would augment JBLM’s natural walkability.

The base would be improved by tearing down the old bulkhead-style barracks used by 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers, Bryan said. Modern barracks, with one Soldier per room, are superior, along with bathrooms that are designed for only a couple Soldiers, instead of a dozen.

Bryan also said he’s eager to take up where his predecessor, Ronald Johnson, left off with the Better Opportunities for Single Service Members program.

“If you can keep a Soldier, a younger Soldier, always geared and doing things, and they’re positive things,” Bryan said. “It’ll build a better Soldier for us. I’m thankful for the BOSS program.”

The base command sergeant major is part of the program’s steering committee, and Bryan said he can’t wait to join that group and start figuring out how to pay for more events and trips, to keep the program growing.

However, unlike a brigade under a wartime mentality, Bryan said the money is not always easy to find, if it’s out there at all.

“Nothin’s free,” he said.

That idea carries over to joint-base priorities too — not just the shuttle idea, but more mundane items.

“When I think about joint base, I think about what we have to do to ensure all of our service members’ and their families’ needs are taken care of,” Bryan said. “We have to remember that there’s a difference between needs and wants. ... I’m thinking about life, health and safety. To me, those are needs.”

Bryan said he believes focusing on those things will help commanders and service members focus on their training and missions, because they won’t have to worry about what’s going on back home.

That focus considers young service members who are exiting the military, too. Bryan wants to continue to expand on-the-job training for young service members close to their experation-of-term-of-service dates. The training program has learning tracks including heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; welding; information technology and possibly trucking.

“I want to focus on those kids,” Bryan said. “I want to make sure they’re leaving the military with something other than unemployment.”