Operations funnels orders, assists commander

Huntsville Center Public Affairs Office
Published March 31, 2014

A Huntsville Center reorganization yielded the formation of a position to support the Center’s mission efficiency, streamline operations and provide Huntsville Center’s command with a straight-forward line of communication.

As the Center’s operations officer, Russ Dunford plans and coordinates operations required to accomplish the mission and serves as primary staff to the commander in conveying to HQ USACE the good work the Center’s personnel are doing and how the Center is meeting the Corps’ Campaign Plan goals.

Lt. Col. William Burruss, Huntsville Center deputy commander, explained that the operations officer, known as the G3 position within the general staff hierarchy, is responsible for supporting the executive office in planning and responding to Operation Orders, or OPORDS, and other guidance from Headquarters USACE.  This includes development, implementation and tracking of the Center’s strategic plan as it applies to the USACE Campaign Plan. 

“When everything is routine, his duties primarily focus on assisting the command by receiving orders from HQ USACE, analyzing them, making sure the right people at the Center are engaged, and tracking and reporting back to HQ USACE on any requirements,” Burruss said. 

A big benefit to the Center, Burruss said, is the added operational capacity to support the command if there is a major event or crisis, such as sequestration or when the tornadoes hit Alabama in April 2011. 

Dunford, who came into the position in October, said communication is vital in today’s world of instantaneous information.

“Communication is always a challenge and compounded by the speed in which we can communicate globally today,” he said.

“We have two screen scrolls on a Blackberry to communicate the message or the recipient loses interest. In a perfect world, the G3, strives to effectively communicate the commander’s intent in two Blackberry screen scrolls,” he said.

Dunford said his purpose in the organization is helping communicate the who, what, where, when and why of the work expected from and the tasks delivered to Huntsville Center.

“It’s my mission to communicate the commander’s desired end-state, but not the “how to.” The directors will nail the “how to” as we have more than 200 years of experience at the senior leader level here at the Center,” Dunford said.

What he will not do is spend the day thinking of un-needed tasks to distribute to the workforce. Instead, what he will do is maintain lines of communication with the right people.

“Col. Ruch strives to ensure that the Center team understands communication is a two-way street and his ability to effectively command is dependent upon candid feedback from the team.  With a command atmosphere valuing critical thinking, initiative and a “get it done” approach, we communicate, adapt and keep moving forward.The G3 serves as a conduit for the commander as to the feedback from the field regarding policies, operation orders, etc.,” he said.

To ensure the G3 maintains continuity of communication vertically and laterally, a functional email address was established (CEHNC.Operations@usace.army.mil) in lieu of using Dunford’s name.