Fort Bragg's garrison commander prepares to hand off to new leader
By RACHAEL RILEY | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: May 29, 2019
(Tribune news Service) — Col. Kyle Reed, Fort Bragg's garrison commander, took a look back over his tenure on Tuesday as he prepared to hand over the command to a new leader.
Col. Phillip Sounia will assume command of Fort Bragg's garrison from Reed in a ceremony scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Main Post Flag Pole.
The garrison command supports soldiers and families on post and manages the day-to-day operations, allowing more senior Army leaders to focus on readiness and support to troops deployed or preparing to deploy.
Sounia, who has served with different units through the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg since 2009, most recently arrives from the U.S. Army Forces Command Commander's Initiatives Group that is also based at Fort Bragg.
Reed is not moving far: He will become the 18th Airborne Corps' operations officer to help focus on plans for the Corps' service members who serve at installations across the U.S., including Fort Bragg.
From 1999 to 2010, he held a number of positions within the 82nd Airborne Division, mostly with the 1st Brigade Combat Team.
Prior to becoming Fort Bragg's garrison commander in June 2017, Reed served as director of the military coordination cell for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.
In an interview with The Fayetteville Observer on Tuesday, Reed reflected on what he's learned during the past two years as the garrison commander, and some of the ongoing projects for the installation.
He said he learned about interactions with other organizations, from the Department of Defense Education Activity Schools on the installation to surrounding local governments and North Carolina government.
"Being able to identify some challenges and pick up the phone and saying, 'Hey I've identified this, and I need your support or I need your assistance on tackling this problem set,' they've all been open, willing and eager to help," Reed said. "So it has been truly humbling to serve as (what) a lot of other people associate as the mayor of Fort Bragg."
At the same time, Reed said interactions with the surrounding communities, which include six bordering counties and five counties where service members live, is important.
One of those interactions has been coordinating with the N.C. Department of Transportation's Interstate 295 extension project, which includes the Outer Loop for a 39-mile highway to extend I-95 toward the Cumberland-Robeson county line.
"A portion of that is on the installation, so we gave them an easement to be able to build that in conjunction with our travel and our road system that exists on the installation," Reed said.
Another transportation project includes an intergovernmental service agreement, which allows the DOT to help maintain the infrastructure of roads in the containment area at a less cost.
Reed estimated it costs Fort Bragg about $1.1 million to maintain a mile of road, compared to the department of transportation's maintenance costs of about $650,000 a mile.
And roads aren't the only projects in the works on the installation.
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is planning for construction of a shopping center known as Freedom Crossing, that includes a movie theater, restaurants and retail.
Reed said the center will be also be able to serve those who have access to Fort Bragg.
For soldiers, a $45 million aerial gunnery range has recently opened, which Reed said serves combat aviation brigades who won't have to travel far for the training capabilities that the range provides.
The range features a forward area refueling point and has technology that allows leaders to see which targets are hit or missed.
"And we can transition that not only to aviation, but we can also use it as a maneuver live fire range," Reed said.
Housing, other concerns addressed
During Reed's time as garrison commander, housing concerns that have been raised at installations across the nation about lead paint, mold and timeliness of repairs have also been raised at Fort Bragg.
Reed said there are ongoing conversations with state officials to navigate historical preservation rules to consider ways to address lead paint and installation and repairing some of those homes.
After town hall meetings where residents weighed in with their concerns, Reed said Fort Bragg's housing partner Corvias is also taking steps to make changes, from new Corvias leadership at Fort Bragg to in-house services, or adding more specialized technicians.
Since February this year, more than 1,200 homes have had duct-cleaning and more than 1,600 homes have had gutter cleaning.
"There's (been) repairs of potholes. There's pressure washing going on to get rid of mildew on the external homes," Reed said. "Roof repairs that have transpired. Plumbing work has been done."
With 6,151 homes on the installation, Reed said Corvias typically averages 1,000 work orders in a week. Work orders increased to 2,200 within a few days when Hurricane Florence hit the area in September 2018.
Responses to storms is one matter Reed said has been reviewed.
Dating back to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Reed said a lesson learned was to install larger culverts to help move water quickly off the installation, and a hydrology study was conducted to identify problematic areas where water accumulated.
There's also discussions with the Corps of Engineers to better understand floodplains and sediment that major rain causes to river systems, Reed said.
With a total supported population of more than 280,000 on the installation that includes soldiers, families and civilians, Reed said more than 15,000 civilians help with the daily operations and provide a "continuity," of information when there are changes in commands, and the civilian employees help the soldiers focus on mission requirements.
"When you look at the sheer demand of people who work on this installation, if we didn't have our civilian counterparts with the subject matter knowledge, expertise and understanding of the way things work around this installation, we would not get anywhere near as much done as we do," he said.
And Reed said he is confident that the garrison's civilian workforce that includes deputy garrison commander Justin Mitchell will support the new garrison commander.
Reed said that Sounia is bring a "new set of eyes," to help with Fort Bragg's operations.
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