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NEWS | Oct. 27, 2016

Balocki says farewell to USARC; sets sail for the Navy

By Timothy Hale U.S. Army Reserve Command

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – After nearly three years as the Chief Executive Officer for the U.S. Army Reserve, James B. Balocki, is charting a new course in his senior executive service career – this time with the Department of the Navy.

As someone who has spent the majority of his career in engineering, Balocki said that he is looking forward to this new challenge but has fond memories of his time with the U.S. Army Reserve. He said the success he has witnessed since his arrival in 2014 rests squarely on the shoulders of the Soldiers and civilians within the force.

“I wouldn’t hang it (success) on me, I would attribute it to the teams that we built here,” Balocki said. “It’s really the realization that if you select great people and you build great teams you can accomplish great things. With the team leadership that we have, it’s easy.”

He also attributed success to getting away from the headquarters and meeting the Soldiers and civilians who do the work on a daily basis.

“You’ve got to go out into the environment and get your boots dirty and find out all the greatness that you think you’re delivering ‘What does it look like at the end of the string?’” he said. “By the time it gets down there, it may not be so great.”

He said it’s important to bring that feedback into the headquarters and, if necessary, adjusting the requirements to meet the original intent.

He said one of his biggest challenges when he stepped into the role of chief executive was do understand the culture of the U.S. Army Reserve. He said each function within the Army – ranging from engineers to combat arms – has it’s own culture and understanding the culture is necessary to be an effective leader.

“It (U.S. Army Reserve) operates with it’s own language and belief and value system, mirroring the overall Army system. It takes time, at least a year, to being immersed in that culture to understand how to effect change.

“I retired out of the Army staff at headquarters Department of the Army but my first four years in the Senior Executive Service was with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, again kind of a special culture. What this has taught me is that leading in different cultures is hard and challenging but it’s really enjoyable. Which is why I have chosen to go and lead in another culture with the Navy and the Marine Corps.”

Balocki’s next step with the Navy will take him back to Washington, D.C. where he will work on the Secretary of the Navy staff for Energy, Installations, and Environment as a deputy assistant secretary.

“My portfolio will consist of all the Navy and Marine Corps installations worldwide, military construction, and base operations,” he said. “It’s really in my sweet spot in an area that I know, enjoy, and understand pretty well although it’s in a different service.”

He said another reason was for Family purposes. Balocki has been a geographic bachelor during his time with the U.S. Army Reserve.

“It’s not a problem but certainly a challenge to continue Family life, as many in the headquarters have or continue to experience,” he said. “Many of them have been operating that way for a lot longer than I have.”

He also said the he had the feeling the teams within the U.S. Army Reserve had coalesced into viable and productive organizations.

“These teams are producing great results and I was seeing irreversible momentum had been created in a number of areas. So at that point, you start believing that it’s time for them to prove their mettle to somebody else. It just felt like the right time,” he said.