While thousands of soldiers, airmen and Marines were getting better at what they do at Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center this spring, without a hitch, a new era of camp leadership took its place at the helm.
Col. Richard Knowlton had been in leadership roles at the training site for roughly 10 years when he retired in May. His deputy operations manager, Lt. Col. Joseph Huss, assumed the lead role in daily operations of the training center.
Knowlton started out as the training center’s operations officer in 2002 and continued until he deployed to Iraq in 2004. He later spent about a year and a half as the deputy garrison commander, and was named base operations manager in July 2011. From 2009-2010 the colonel commanded the state’s largest deployment, a brigade-sized element augmented by soldiers from five states.
Knowlton said development of processes and of staff were at the top of his list for accomplishments under his watch at Camp Guernsey. He noted increased safety measures and successes, and expanding air operations as highlights also.
“Watching the development of these young men and women, most of whom I’ve known from early in their careers and watching them become mature, thoughtful leaders—not just officers but NCOs and civilians, has been really rewarding,” Knowlton explained. “We’ve always been pretty good at ground ops, but we’ve really taken some big steps forward in air operations and we’ve also gotten really good at fire prevention and suppression.”
The training center’s airfield manager, Capt. Jason Miller said the tactical air strip, built with troop labor in 2011, was one reason for an increase in air traffic since 2008. There were 5,473 total air traffic movements in fiscal year 2008. Last year saw 11,470.
“The TAC Strip in of itself isn’t the driving force that has increased air movements; however,” Miller said, “the TAC Strip has generated Air Force, Air National Guard, and Marine C-130 utilization to include the 200- and 400-man personnel drops from the Army National Guard’s only airborne infantry unit during Golden Coyote in 2014 and 2015 respectively.”
“It was an awkward day moving into his office,” Huss said of taking Knowlton’s former desk. “I’ve learned something new every day up here. I don’t think the colonel and I are all that different. I had a lot of ideas reinforced by a mentor to a mentee. We both know, you’re only as good as your people, and damn, they’re good. It takes a team.”