Maj. Gen. Kent D. Savre, USA
Commanding General, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
TME: Congratulations on your new position. How have your diverse career experiences prepared you for this assignment?
SAVRE: First, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this issue of The Military Engineer.
Serving as the Commanding General of the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., is a tremendous responsibility and one I take very seriously. I am humbled to be a part of this outstanding team here in the heart of America.
As Commanding General, I am responsible for leading a large, multi-component, inter-service team that trains about 80,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines each year; inspires leaders of character; and develops future capabilities for the Engineer, Chemical and Military Police Regiments. (Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; the U.S. Army Engineer School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School.)
As the Senior Commander, I am also responsible for caring for our servicemembers, civilians and families, and managing operations of a state-of-the-art installation with a daily population of 35,000 people.
The U.S. Army does a great job of broadening officers through a variety of assignments and experiences—and I have certainly benefited from a career of challenging assignments, which have prepared me to serve in this capacity.
As a major in the 1st Infantry Division, I led the Initial Entry Force into Kosovo. As a battalion commander, in Operation Enduring Freedom-1, I utilized the Army’s first set of route clearance equipment and developed procedures to conduct route reconnaissance and clearance operations. As the Director of the Counter Explosive Hazards Center, my team met critical demands in Iraq and Afghanistan by developing training, procuring equipment and shaping future force structure. As a colonel, I commanded the U.S. Forces - Iraq Theater Engineer Brigade during the drawdown and transition to Operation New Dawn. Most recently, I commanded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division during a period that included responding to and recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
In every case, I have been confronted with unique challenges, but have been surrounded by amazing people.
The Army has a really talented workforce of very competent soldiers and civilians who are highly committed to mission success. It was continually reinforced to me that if we clearly understood mission requirements, empowered subordinate leaders, and built and leveraged teams, we could accomplish anything. So my experiences, working on so many effective teams during my career, has prepared me for this job and led me to my philosophy of “Mission First, People Always, Team of Teams.” It is a philosophy that has worked well for me throughout my career and one that is being adopted and internalized here at Fort Leonard Wood.
TME: What are your primary goals as Commanding General of the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence?
SAVRE: One of my primary goals is to refocus the installation on identifying the maneuver support skills and tools that are required to ensure maneuver commanders are successful in future operations.
We are finalizing the new Army Functional Concept for Maneuver Support in 2020–2040, which identifies the future capabilities required to enable commanders and forces freedom of action while executing missions in complex environments as members of a joint, inter-organizational and multinational team across the range of military operations.
In the concept, the Maneuver Support Warfighting Function is defined as the related tasks and systems that mitigate the effects of obstacles and hazards, shape terrain, and protect the force, populations and resources to enable joint combined arms operations. Nested with the Army Operating Concept, the Maneuver Support Functional Concept describes the future environment, threat and maneuver support capabilities, what they are, and how Maneuver Support Forces provide supported commanders with multiple options, and present enemies and adversaries with multiple dilemmas.
“The Army has a really talented workforce of very competent soldiers and civilians who are highly committed to mission success. It was continually reinforced to me that if we clearly understood mission requirements, empowered subordinate leaders, and built and leveraged teams, we could accomplish anything.”
Additionally, we are leading development of two of the Army’s 20 Warfighting Challenges—Conduct Homeland Operations and Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction—that are defined in the Army Operating Concept. These are complex and critical challenges for our nation; they require capabilities at every level from tactical to strategic.
The strength of our Army is the American soldier, so the most important capability we provide is our highly trained soldiers developed through realistic training.
My view is that when a soldier leaves Fort Leonard Wood, they are proud of what they have accomplished and trust their leadership and our institution; they embrace our Army values, culture and ethos; are competent in their basic soldier skills and fundamentals; are mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually fit when they leave; and are ready to join an operational unit and become valued teammates providing capability to our Army.
Likewise, we must continue to train competent and committed leaders while integrating our training amongst our three regiments and with the Maneuver Center of Excellence while simultaneously developing better strategies to inspire leaders of character. So really, our primary goal is to expand upon our maneuver support capabilities, but within that, to continue to develop agile and adaptive leaders of character.
TME: Fort Leonard Wood has evolved in recent years and now is a premier training and doctrinal installation for the Army, and which also houses detachments from several other services. Because of that, what are some of the unique aspects of the base and what benefits does the joint environment provide?
SAVRE: Fort Leonard Wood is home to the largest U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force detachments on any Army installation and also houses a U.S. Navy Center for Seabees and Facility Engineering Detachment. Elements of the U.S. Coast Guard train here as well.
More than 80 percent of our courses are joint, with shared programs of instruction, and utilize common facilities and equipment. This environment provides a unique opportunity for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to gain exposure and build confidence in working with the other services and utilizing their capabilities to accomplish our nation’s missions.
Fort Leonard Wood also trains over 450 international students from more than 100 nations each year. Having other countries present on the installation adds value to our capabilities and allows us the unique opportunity to train with the same team with whom we serve and perform operational missions.
In addition to joint and multinational opportunities, we conduct training across all three components. With more than 70 percent of the Maneuver Support Force in the Reserve Component, we are very focused on Total Army synchronization. Roughly 13,000 Guardsmen and Reservists travel to our installation in Central Missouri to train each year.
The standardization, synchronization and expansion of maneuver support training, not only here at Fort Leonard Wood, but across the Total Army, is the key to success in the future.
Furthermore, we are continuing to grow our inter-organizational coordination and training—especially with regard to homeland operations. At Fort Leonard Wood, we really have a team of teams that is more unique than any other Army installation.
TME: How can professional organizations like SAME help support the training and development needs of the military services?
SAVRE: Organizations like SAME provide the network for professionals in both the private sector and government to learn, grow and build relationships.
Publications and collaborative events provide the venues to facilitate professional dialog and, in my view, make military engineering and our nation stronger.
TME: Fort Leonard Wood is a unique installation. What are some of the opportunities you see for the future?
SAVRE: I am confident that we can continue to expand our role as a lead Army Training and Doctrine Command installation in the integration of joint, inter-organizational and multinational training that is focused on inspiring agile and adaptive leaders of character and developing the maneuver support capabilities our nation requires.
Fort Leonard Wood is a beautiful post with unlimited capacity to meet the future requirements of our nation. We have excellent infrastructure surrounded by federally owned property, which alleviates encroachment issues, and we are fortunate to be surrounded by a very supportive community. The future is bright.
Maj. Gen. Kent D. Savre, USA, became Commanding General, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., in April 2015. He previously served as Commander, North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he oversaw a $5 billion annual design and construction program, and led the Army’s Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts. Among his many diverse career assignments, he served as Director, Office of the Chief of Engineers; Commander, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas and Commander, U.S. Forces-Iraq Theater Engineer Brigade; Director, Counter Explosive Hazards Center, Fort Leonard Wood; and Commander, 864th Engineer Battalion, Fort Lewis, Wash., deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Gen. Savre holds a bachelor’s degree in Construction from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, a master’s degree in Construction Management from Arizona State University, and a master’s in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. He is a graduate of the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and U.S. Army War College. He was commissioned as an engineer officer in 1985 upon graduation from Officer Candidate School.