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In the military, change is inevitable. Duty stations change, commands change and recently with the Base Realignment and Closure initiative, even the physical appearance of Fort Knox has changed.
The newest change coming to Fork Knox is in the Garrison Command. In a change of command ceremony Thursday at the Waybur Theater on Fort Knox, the community’s colors were passed to incoming Garrison Commander Col. Bruce Jenkins.
Jenkins steps into position to replace outgoing Garrison Commander Col. Eric “Rick” Schwartz.
Although this is his first tour at Fort Knox, Jenkins said he thinks the transition will be smooth. He said in an interview prior to the ceremony that Schwartz has been including him in emails, documents and other correspondence for about a year so he feels “in the loop.”
“I don’t feel like I’m arriving blindfolded,” Jenkins said. “I feel like I’ve been involved in the entire processes for an entire year. I believe even though I haven’t been assigned to Fort Knox before, I feel like my learning curve will not be as steep.”
Schwartz has overseen many changes at Fort Knox during BRAC and Jenkins said he plans to build on what the colonel and his team has started.
“I’m very impressed with everything that Col. Schwartz has done,” he said. “His staff is absolutely professional. They all work hard. In my opinion, from my foxhole, they’ve done a great, great job.”
Even with all the change, Jenkins said making sudden changes is not in his nature. He plans to observe for some time before making any decisions about the post and what is needed for soldiers, their families and the civilian work force.
“It has kind of been my standard policy to not make any decisions in the first 60 days,” he said. “I need to sit back and access the strengths and weaknesses, good and bad, and those areas where’s there’s opportunity for improvement. I’ll certainly look at ensuring we’ll move forward in those areas.”
Prior to his command at Fort Smith, N.Y., where he served in several capacities, Jenkins was the 556th Personnel Services Battalion Commander. In 2006, his battalion assumed responsibility of the Theater Gateway where all forces coming into combat or returning home from a combat region would pass.
His battalion saw and cared for more than 5,000 troops a day in their transition to and from combat, so Jenkins has experience caring for deployed troops.
He cited this experience, his human resource background and his focus on customer service as tools he will use to help care for soldiers and their families.
“Personally I’ll look at it through the eyes of a human resources officer who has been charged to take care of soldiers’ families,” he said. “I’m a human resources guy by designation, so I’ll take care of soldiers’ families and the civilian force here at Fort Knox.”
He went on to add that security of the people who work or live on Fort Knox is a top priority.
“There’s a lot going on in the world today, so the safety and security of the installation are top priorities for me,” he said. “I plan to take a hard look at that to insure that Fort Knox remains on the leading edge, that I’m able to protect and secure the folks that call Fort Knox their home.”
Although Schwartz is departing to teach at the U.S. Army War College, Jenkins says his accomplishments will remain and acknowledges that he has to continue to build on the success of the outgoing commander.
“Col. Schwartz has done an incredible job,” Jenkins said. “He’s done some heavy lifting and he has set the course for Fort Knox to make me and my team very successful. I look to take everything he’s done here at Fort Knox during the transition period and build on his legacy and continue to make Fort Knox, in my opinion, be the gold standard of Army excellence for installations. Hopefully everybody that lives, serves and works here at Fort Knox will feel like this is their Army home.”
Gina Clear can be reached at (270) 505-1740 or email@example.com.