FORT HOOD, TX — A long-running series of problems on Fort Hood made the post the focus of national attention, but the Army's problems don't just stop at Fort Hood's doorstep.
Army Brass will closely watch the HR makeover ordered for Fort Hood with an eye toward spreading it out across the entire Army.
Major General John B. Richardson IV took on a huge task to fix cultural and communication problems on Fort Hood. Will his changes get the job done? It's possible the future of the U.S. Army is riding on the answer to that question.
Sweeping change will soon descend on the Central Texas Army post as leaders redirect the way they interact with soldiers, something the post's new commander says could change how the entire Army operates.
"There’s opportunities across the Army to implement things that we learn about our current culture," explained Maj. Gen. John Richardson, now Commanding General III Corps & Sr. Commander Fort Hood.
One thing has already spread across the force is a monthly "foundational training day" devoted to establishing connections between soldiers and to their chain of command.
Army leadership says the day will create the kind of command presence common in the old days.
"You know I remember first calls in the morning, leaders were there to wake their people up in the morning. Well today we can do that electronically, and today we don't have the physical interaction that allows for the type of relationships that we want," said Gen. Michael X. Garrett, Commanding General of the U.S. Army.
At least one brigade's commanders on Fort Hood have already begun forging those relationships face-to-face on weekends with a resulting drop in problems. If it continues working, that model could present the face of "The New Army."
"Ultimately what we have to determine is metrics that show a change in behavior," said Maj. Gen. Richardson.
Human resources experts say if the plan on Fort Hood gets results, the Army could roll it out to all troops to address a multitude of systemic problems.
"Most definitely. I think if they can make it work here, I think it could serve as a baseline for the other agencies aligned with the military as well," said Melanie Toliver, managing director at The Hopkins Group, a Dallas-based human resources firm.
"New leadership, resetting Fort Hood, moving forward, that's what this is about," said General Garrett.
Perhaps also moving the Army forward in its handling of people and their problems.
Will the plan work? Experts say it has a good chance. Could it change the culture of the U.S. Army? Many say it needs to.