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Top Aberdeen Proving Ground general receives national honor

DefenseU.S. ArmyAberdeen Proving GroundU.S. Department of DefenseNiki Tsongas

Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, senior commander at Aberdeen Proving Ground, received the "Military Leader of the Year" award from the Association of Defense Communities during a ceremony in Washington Thursday.

Ferrell, commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, received the award in a breakfast event in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, according to a news release from the Communications-Electronics Command, which is headquartered at APG.

Farrell was one of 10 award recipients from across the country honored by the association, a national membership organization which represents 200 communities, states and regions with a significant military presence, and partner organizations. 

"This award recognizes an individual from the military whose outstanding leadership has been essential in building and sustaining partnerships with defense communities," Tim Ford, chief executive officer of the association, said.

Harford County Executive David Craig nominated Ferrell.

"He has led a number of initiatives to foster and continue to build the relationships between the installation and the local communities," Craig said in the nomination. "By focusing on teamwork and transparency, the boundary between installation functions and community stakeholders' interests disappears so that both sides can see the issues as clearly as possible."

Craig also cited Ferrell's emphasis on science, technology engineering and math education: "He recognizes the importance of these competencies to the future of APG, the Army and the nation. So, he has taken the initiative to inspire growth in STEM within our local community."

STEM initiative

According to the news release, next month's opening of the Army STEM Education Outreach Center at APG represents the installation leadership's most recent initiative to further science and technology education throughout the Chesapeake Corridor.

Previously, a partnering agreement with Harford County Public Schools expanded collaboration between APG and the school system to increase educational outreach efforts. Through all of its STEM programs, the post has reached more than 10,000 students in the past year, according to the release.

In multiple areas — including STEM K-12 outreach, veterans' affairs, workforce development and wellness — APG's commander has helped to erase the front gate when it comes to community interaction, the release noted.

To improve the education of its workforce, APG has continued to expand its partnerships with a variety of universities to offer classes on post for advanced engineering and business degrees, the release continued. Ferrell has made his deputy, Gary Martin, the installation's lead for workforce development to ensure those efforts remain a core focus at the installation.

Community outreach

Ferrell's efforts to foster a closer relationship between APG and its neighboring communities have extended beyond education.

The commander directed the first installation-wide Advance Planning Briefing for Industry, a three-day event outlining business opportunities available in each of the installation's five program areas, the Communications-Electronics Command release explained.

More than 1,000 business and economic development representatives attended the event to learn about APG's 180-plus potential contracts worth an estimated $19.5 billion.

Last fall, the post held its inaugural Oktoberfest to recognize its neighboring communities and their 95 years of continuous support. During the event, APG and community leaders held a ceremony to sign the Army Community Covenant.

'Team-oriented approach'

During the awards ceremony, the Association of Defense Communities' Ford said Ferrell earned the award "for fostering a team-oriented approach at APG to sustain community partnerships vital to the installation's long-term needs in innovation and technology."

At the ceremony, Ferrell thanked all in attendance for their support of service members, Department of Defense civilians and their families.  The general also added his thanks and praise for the community leaders and residents of the entire Aberdeen region.

"We couldn't ask for better partners and teammates than we have in the region that surrounds Aberdeen Proving Ground," Ferrell said. "It is a truly tremendous community and we rely on them to help us accomplish our APG mission."

"I am incredibly humbled to receive this award and it really reflects the hard work and support of our APG team members and the many dedicated community leaders who, working together, make APG such a special place to live and to serve," he said.

Other awardees included Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts and Congressman Rob Wittman of Virginia, as well as Fred Meurer, the city manager of Monterey, Calif.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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DefenseU.S. ArmyAberdeen Proving GroundU.S. Department of DefenseNiki Tsongas
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