Lt. Col. Craig Short, Commander of Hawthorne Army Depot, is trying to enjoy his remaining time in Hawthorne. “Time is running short –it’s my enemy,” Short said early into the interview with the Independent–News.
Short is preparing for a change-of-command set to take place at the depot at 9 a.m. on June 26. At that date, Short relinquishes command to Lt. Col. Gregory Gibbons.
“He’s a nice guy, I’m sure he’s coming in with vim and vigor and energy, and he’ll keep moving forward.
Colonel Short said anyone in the community wanting to attend the ceremony can call the depot and make arrangements for an invitation. The colonel said he is leaving Hawthorne shortly after the ceremony.
The colonel’s next duty stop is at the Pentagon working at G-4, or Army Logistics. “My job is going to be working at the Logistics Operations Center. It will be down in the basement of the Pentagon dealing with global crisis and logistics requirements,” Short said.
“Whether it’s transportation, supply, maintenance, if people somewhere in the world have an issue that needs Pentagon attention and it’s a logistics issue, then it’ll get kicked over to me. Then I’m going to get it out to the subject matter experts within the G-4, then take that info and get it back out to the field,” Short added.
Short’s orders require that he report for duty no later than the August 1. “I’ll probably get there before that to find a house and get settled before reporting for duty on the first of August. In the interim I’ll be visiting friends and family on the west coast,” Short said. The colonel also said his family planned on driving to the next duty station rather than flying.
It is his fifth journey from coast to coast.
The colonel said that while munitions operations generally went very well, his greatest challenges were coordination and compliance with both state and federal regulators. He named safety and particularly environmental concerns that represented a steep learning curve for him.
The colonel said the depot had a 38 percent reduction in accidents during his tenure. “We want to make sure we’re taking care of people and the environment and we’ve made great strides in cleaning up industrial sites,” Short said.
One of Short’s favorite memories about serving in Hawthorne is the community itself. “I really enjoy the community. I really do believe it is America’s Patriotic Home. They really nailed it with that slogan.”
“They’re very supportive,” Short said. He mentioned community support after the tragic deaths and injuries of Marine Corp members in 2013. He also said he very thankful for the community and its organizations for their depot support.
My family and I enjoy the event around town such as music in the park—it just makes it nice. The Armed Forces Day parade is just a hoot. This year’s event went very well and I’d like to thank the committee that organized it,” Short said.
“My daughter goes to the school here, in Mrs. Schumann’s class, and that’s been great too. I think the school district is committed to improvement. I think they’re going in the right direction,” Short said.
Before he leaves, Short wants to clarify the status of the depot as regards closure: “There’s concerns I’ve received with the recent layoffs that the depot is closing, and that’s not the case. The commanding general has toured out here and she sees the depot is absolutely essential,” Short said.
“It’s strategically located on the west coast and it doesn’t have encroachment issues, which means the town is not expanding and limiting our capability to store ammunition,” Short added.
“With regards to Base Realignment and Closure, I see the opportunity for mission growth. Here in Hawthorne, as the Army struggles with excess facilities, we have a lot of space here to facilitate a lot of different missions. From a command perspective, Hawthorne is here to stay,” Short concluded.
Short also wanted to let the public know that the Army is not directly responsible for the recent layoffs. “The government does not dictate to the contractor how many people they hire or fire. That is the company’s (SOC) responsibility for decisions of hiring and firing,” Short said.
“I’m really proud of the support the operating contractor (SOC) gives to this community. They’re very generous with resources to help the community. The teamwork between the community, the operating contractor, and government staff is critical to a healthy enterprise,” Short said.
In parting, Short said: “I’d really like to thank the community of Hawthorne for the support they’ve given me in my time of command. I’d ask them to continue to support Lt. Col. Greg Gibbons and his family and welcome them with open arms,”
“I also want the people to know that Hawthorne has an enduring mission with the Army, and I don’t see that changing. We all have to keep working together,” Short concluded.