After 36 years of service to the Nation, Maj. Gen. Tracy Garrett, Special Advisor to the Commander, U.S. Africa Command, retired May 8, 2014 in a ceremony held at the Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany.
Before her retirement, Maj. Gen. Garrett talked about her role in the command and what she’s learned.
“This is a joint job designed to give Reserve and National Guard officers an opportunity to work in a joint command and ‘pump up their game’ by showing how they can be more useful to a wide number of commands. The intent at the Joint Staff is that there be more opportunities like this,” said Garrett.
For those who may not know, a significant part of the work being done by the command is performed by Reserve and National Guard personnel who either come on active duty anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, or, in Garrett’s case, are drilling Reservists.
She travels nearly every month from her home base in Seattle to the U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
Garrett sees herself as a “utility player” for the Commander, meaning she fills in gaps as needed.
During her tour here, she has worked on an investigation, working closely with the Inspector General’s office, but a lot of her effort has been devoted to the Women’s Peace and Security working group, and helping the Commander with sexual assault education, prevention and response.
Reflecting on what she sees as challenges at the command, she said that changes in Defense finance and budgeting will have an effect on the personnel resources that are available. “So the person who comes after me will live in a different environment and there will be changes in how we access Reserve and National Guard personnel, how we pay them and the extent to which we can use them,” said Garrett.
Her greatest accomplishment while here? “I provide another picture of what a Reservist looks like. There’s no big red ‘R’ on my forehead; we all look the same once we put on the uniform. Each Reservist and National Guard who serves helps active duty and civilians see what’s possible, what we can bring to the table, what we contribute. That can build confidence on our team and they’ll say, ‘they’re invaluable to our team,” said Garrett.
What did she learn here? “I learned about Africa, about the Joint Staff process about national leadership decision-making. From WPS working group I learned what initiatives the President can take and how Defense [Dept.] is in support of that in a very concrete way,” she said.
“Our engagements on the continent is important to the command because we are helping our African partners to strengthen their militaries. And it’s important to the American people we bring out values; where those are shared values with African partners, we have the resources to help strengthen them.