JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ —
Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst welcomed the new Army Support Activity, Fort Dix Commander and Joint Base MDL Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Col. Jon Brierton on July 23. ASA Fort Dix is responsible for providing training opportunities to build readiness throughout the Joint Force.
Though new to his position, Brierton is no stranger to the installation. The Pennsylvania native began his career on Fort Dix when he attended Basic Combat Training in 1990. Brierton originally enlisted as an 88N, or Traffic Management Coordinator, and later commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1993 after obtaining his degree in manufacturing from the California University of Pennsylvania.
Brierton recently shared some of his experiences from his 30-year service to the U.S. Army and discussed his goals for the future of ASA Fort Dix.
Why did you decide to join the U.S. Army? What was your first experience like at Fort Dix?
“I completed my freshman year at California University of Pennsylvania and I was putting myself through school. I had a work-study job and was working in the local community doing construction. But, I was running low on money . . . my dad was in the Army and both of my grandfathers were in World War II, so I decided to carry on the legacy. I started my Army career in 1990 here at Fort Dix doing basic training. It was rough.”
What has your experience as an Engineer Officer in the Army been like?
“It's phenomenal. As an Army engineer, you are expected to be an expert in everything from geospatial, engineering and construction, bridging and demolitions to breaching obstacles. We have a unique responsibility with the Corps of Engineers not just on the military side, but on the civilian side as well.”
What have been your favorite accomplishments in your career so far?
“I assumed command of the 611th Engineer Company in Sharonville, Ohio in 2001. The unit was hurting in terms of meeting readiness requirements, and myself and the phenomenal team that I had turned the unit around within 90 days. Operation Iraqi Freedom kicked off, and the unit was tasked to support the initial phases of OIF.
As a major, I was assigned to the 412th Engineer Command in Vicksburg, Mississippi as the Chief of Operations. I was also tagged to be the lead action officer for Operation Sand Castle at the Fort Irwin National Training Center in California. Back in the day, the Army had a force-generation model (ARFORGEN) that took a unit through various levels of readiness from year one to five. Operation Sand Castle was a year-4 exercise, and the units there were the ones going into theater right after. There were roughly 500 soldiers operating at the exercise, which we increased to more than 3,000 and fully integrated with the NTC rotation. I did all of the contracting, life support and integrating with the NTC to get all of the units missioned. Then during my final phase of it, a battalion came without their field grade leadership, so I assumed the role of a battalion commander while running the exercise – it was the best 30 days of my life.
Then ultimately, being picked to be the ASA Fort Dix Commander is just surreal. I started my career off here as a private, and now I'm sitting in the commander's office. God has a plan, and I never envisioned being here … I'm thrilled! What else is extremely cool is my command sergeant major was also here at the exact same time, so the two of us did basic training here in 1990 and are now the senior leaders of the post. The building is even named after Maj. Gen. Wurman, who was the post commander walking around when we were trainees getting dropped to do pushups. No one can make that stuff up, you know? It's amazing.”
What do you see for the future of ASA Fort Dix and what are your goals as Commander?
“Ultimately, we're responsible for providing training opportunities to build readiness throughout the Joint Force. The future of the installation is to continue to provide those opportunities as well as resources to assist the nation in generating combat power for whatever type of contingency operation that may come up, such as deploying troops in support of the COVID-19 response or deploying troops in support of any type of contingency operations overseas. My goals are to integrate better [with our Joint partners] and synchronize so that the Joint Base does the best job it possibly can to build readiness and support the nation whenever she needs us.”
Finally, what are some hobbies and activities that you enjoy on your down time?
“Golf. I'm looking forward to playing some golf on Fountain Green. I like to fish, hunt, ski. Mostly, I like to work with my hands, whether it is cars or my house. I'm always doing something, so it's constant improvement, if you will.”