In Congress/DoDMission Support/Community Partnerships, ADC, Dan Cohen

Washington, D.C. — Robert McMahon, the Pentagon’s new assistant secretary of defense (ASD) for sustainment, challenged defense communities to carefully assess whether they are doing their best to support their local installation, during his keynote remarks Thursday at ADC’s Defense Policy Forum.

“Having a military installation in your community is a privilege, not a right,” he said. “My question to you, [is] are you earning that privilege. Are you doing what is necessary to maintain that economic engine in your community,” McMahon said in his first opportunity to address ADC members. He was confirmed by the Senate — and sworn in — for the newly created position last month. The ASD for sustainment office merges the ASD for energy, installations and environment office and the ASD for logistics and materiel readiness office, which McMahon previously led.

McMahon stressed that community support for an installation encompasses a variety of activities, including striving to provide superior services for military families. As an example, he cited the letter the three military service secretaries sent the National Governors Association last February encouraging state leaders to pay attention to the quality of schools near bases and the portability of professional licenses relied on by military spouses. A state may have high-performing schools overall, but community leaders need to ensure the specific schools supporting military families are meeting high standards as well, McMahon pointed out.

McMahon, who led the local support group for Robins AFB, Ga., after retiring from the Air Force as a major general, advised local officials to focus on enhancing the military value of their local installation. He acknowledged that it becomes difficult to define military value as you plan for the future, but said helping to ensure an installation can support the National Defense Strategy is one key.