FORT McCOY — Garrison commander Col. David Pinter said Monday he’s most proud of the strides Fort McCoy has made in raising the level of medical, mobilization and mission readiness in the troops who train there.
After two years as garrison commander at Fort McCoy, Pinter is being reassigned. Two years is typical a typical tenure for the position, Pinter said — a tight time-frame.
“Knowing that it’s a two-year tenure, there’s a lot of things that you want to get done, and there’s some things that are maybe a little bit too soon, but you can help shape and develop the direction of an installation like Fort McCoy in that two-year period,” he said.
During his tenure, which began March 11, 2016, and will conclude Saturday, Pinter focused on training, developing a future force and taking care of service members, their family and veterans in the local area.
Pinter said when he first started as garrison commander he set out to accomplish five priorities: readiness, infrastructure, protection, workforce development and talent management. He’s happy to say he’s had success, specifically with readiness, workforce development and talent management.
“I believe we have accomplished the goal of increasing the level of medical, mobilization and mission readiness for the soldiers, sailors, marines, coast guard and airmen that actually trained here on Fort McCoy,” he said. “(Also) by ensuring that all workforce members that are currently assigned or have been assigned have the opportunity for upward mobility through training, education and experience here at Fort McCoy.”
Pinter said another highlight of his tenure was creating awareness of all that Fort McCoy can offer to senior leaders and to increase community outreach.
“It’s kind of the up and out campaign of ensuring that not only are the senior leaders here on Fort McCoy interfacing with the local community but that all service members and all team members are actually telling the Fort McCoy story,” he said. “In turn we’ve been able to increase our troop work. Here on Fort McCoy last year, for fiscal year 2016, our troop total was about 137,000. In 2017 our troop total was 156,000, and we anticipate with the current numbers that we’ll actually see 160,000 in 2018.”
The increase has had an economic impact on the local area, Pinter said. In 2016, the impact was $895.8 million, and in 2017 it was $1.18 billion.
Pinter said his biggest challenge as commander was to convince senior military and civilian leaders to use Fort McCoy as an all-season training facility.
They didn’t want to come to the fort when it was cold, Pinter said. He had to get them to see that the cold weather could be a good opportunity to train in a cold weather environment.
“When you create an austere training environment for service members to train in, Mother Nature can help us out with that by the unpredictability, with the weather patterns that we have here, that they embrace that challenge,” he said.
Pinter said what he’ll miss most about Fort McCoy is the people.
“The Midwestern work ethic, value system, can-do attitude, the high level of competency, the drive, the commitment of Team McCoy, that’s what we’ve dubbed it. ... They’re a team and everybody has a role to play,” he said. “We have different departments with different directives that support different functions, and allowing them to do their job and being able to pull that together as a leader has been a part of that success, and that’s what I’ll miss.”
The command change will take place Saturday, during the Fort McCoy Armed Forces Day Open House. Col. Hui Chae Kim will take over from Pinter, who is unsure of his next assignment.
Prior to his assignment to Fort McCoy, Kim served as the deputy commander of the 303d Maneuver Enhancement Brigade with the 9th Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Pacific Command, Honolulu, Hawaii.
To Kim and any other commander who follows, Pinter advised embracing the workforce at Fort McCoy.
“The workforce at Ft. McCoy is very competent and very committed,” he said. “They’ve very passionate about what they do. They show up to Fort McCoy with a purpose every day. Embrace that drive and determination that the team has. Learn to understand, listen to understand. With that the team will make you successful, just like I feel that the team has made me feel successful.”