NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. –
One of the few U.S. Army Reserve units supporting the Department of Defense joint mission, the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command Army Reserve Element (JECC ARE), changed command recently during a ceremony celebrating military tradition and the passage of leadership from one commanding officer to another, Aug. 5, at the Wind & Sea Recreation Center Auditorium, Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.
Incoming commander, U.S. Army Reserve Col. John J. Kaikkonen, received the JECC ARE guidon from the outgoing commander, Col. Steven J. Robertson. Throughout the ceremony, both commanders shared highlights brought on by the occasion.
Maj. Gen. John H. Phillips, commanding general of the 335th Signal Command (Theater), presiding, provided continuity of leadership between the outgoing and incoming commanders during the ceremony attended by U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen F. Jost, commanding general of the JECC; Marshall Ramsey, executive director of the JECC; U.S. Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Kimberly K. Hamilton, vice commander of the JECC; U.S. Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Stephanie A. Purgerson, former vice commander of the JECC; and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Brian L. Bischoff, senior enlisted leader of the JECC.
Phillips began his remarks with recognition of the achievements made by the JECC ARE under Robertson’s tenure and the culture of leadership of Robertson fostered.
“Camaraderie, esprit de corps, and trust in leadership are important aspects, as are Colonel Robertson’s endorsement of demanding confidence, commitment, and character across his formation,” said Phillips.
“His Soldiers are as confident as they come, committed to a demanding mission set, and demonstrate the highest character.”
“Col. Robertson has proved that this powerful organization can be the best among the best,” continued Phillips. “I am so proud of all of you and your team has done, but more proud of the Soldiers you lead.”
Phillips also welcomed Kaikkonen, sharing with the audience that the unit is transitioning into capable hands and headed into a bright future.
“Welcome, Col. Kaikkonen, and his wife Darby! They are the right teammates at the right time to lead this exceptional organization and move the ball forward into the ‘red zone,” said Phillips.
Robertson, who had served as the JECC-ARE commander since Aug. 29, 2020, paid tribute to the JECC-ARE Soldiers, civilians, and families who have made the unit successful.
“Over my tenure, the JECC has accomplished amazing things. We’ve been on over 55 missions the last two years to almost all of the Combatant Commands, including the Afghanistan Retrograde, EUCOM, NORTHCOM, and Operation Warp Speed,” said Robertson.
“The JECC is disproportionate from the Army Reserve Element, [having] disproportionate promotions to lieutenant colonel, colonel, selections for command, and in my opinion, it’s just the talent that is attracted to the unit…great people come to the organization, and because of that, they continue to do great things.”
“But great organizations are due to the people,” said Robertson, “and you can have processes and products…but it’s clearly the people that make it great.”
Kaikkonen took command of the JECC-ARE, acknowledging the current challenges of a complex world and the necessity of having an Army Reserve ready to answer the nation’s call whenever needed.
“We are currently in the most challenging times our nation has faced since the onset of World War II, where problems emerge with lightning speed and deliver impacts to people and the economy that are immediate, enduring, and global in nature,” said Kaikkonen.
Kaikkonen outlined the path forward for the JECC ARE under his command.
“The organization has to remain fully staffed, completely ready to go, and constantly relevant,” said Kaikkonen. “The mission we perform is vital because crises and problems are not isolated to only one region of the globe any longer."
“The JECC ARE must be staffed with ready, capable planners who anticipate these impacts and wield the tools needed to steer conditions, regardless of the nature of the problem,” continued Kaikkonen.
The JECC ARE is a complex organization that receives ADCON, or administrative support, from the Army Reserve 335th Signal Command (Theater), while working under OPCON, or operational control, of the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC), through the JECC’s two subordinate units, the Joint Planning Support Element (JPSE) and the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE). The JECC ARE provides joint planning, public affairs, knowledge management, and communications capabilities to Combatant Commanders to enable the rapid establishment of a Joint Force Headquarters, or in support of other missions, exercises, or planning efforts with trained and ready, rapidly deployable, Army Reserve Soldiers from the JECC ARE and their subordinate unit, the 4th Joint Communications Squadron Element (4th JCS).
“In today’s environment, disasters and emergencies are as ‘exportable’ as ever, and the JECC ARE must be ready to provide operational teams who understand this and are ready to respond with options that secure U.S. interests and those of our Allies,” said Kaikkonen.
As a team, the JECC leverages JECC ARE and 4th JCS personnel to deliver joint operational command and control enablers to joint force commanders conducting full spectrum operations.
“We convey the capability into its two important elements. The Joint Communication Support Element (JCSE) in Tampa, McDill AFB, Florida, consists of six squadrons,” said Phillips. Three active duty, two National Guard, and just one from the Army Reserve, the Fourth Squadron."
The only Airborne Signal battalion in the Army Reserve, the 4th JCS “has the mission to provide full spectrum, en route and early entry, command and control communications and computer support that is scalable to commands wherever needed on the globe,” said Phillips.
The JECC-ARE supports the JECC in rapidly deploying tailored packages of joint planners, operators, and functional specialists to enhance and augment newly formed joint force headquarters. These include specialists in public affairs and knowledge management, and joint planners from multiple branches to deliver expertise in plans, operations, logistics, and intelligence support.
“This critical and short-notice mission requires a level of readiness generally unachievable by traditional Reserve Component organizations,” said Phillips, “While the Department of Defense has shifted to a Continental United States-based military with limited assets forward in operational areas during times of competition, the JECC has a heavy burden—to narrow the gap before conflict or crisis, by delivering exceptional capability on a moment’s notice.”
The personnel supporting these capabilities include Army Reserve officer and enlisted Soldiers from Public Affairs (PA), Military Intelligence (MI), Civil Affairs (CA), Psychological Operations (PO), Judge Advocate General (JAG), Signal (SC), Information Operations (IO), Engineer (EN), Medical Service and Nurse Corps (MS), Logistics (LG), Financial Manager (FC), and other branches ready on a moment’s notice to mobilize and deploy.
“Teammates in the JECC ARE must be trustworthy, respectful, have integrity, be tough and tenacious, and be empathetic,” said Kaikkonen. “As an organization we must be flexible, adaptable, and willingly execute the hard stuff."
“We should be doing things that make us uncomfortable, and in turn getting comfortable with that feeling.”
For more information on the JECC, JPSE, and JCSE, including news and how to join, go to the JECC webpage at https://www.jecc.mil/JECC-Home/.