The past year brought on challenges, changed normal practices, and hindered forward movement for people throughout the world, but Col. Bryan Logan, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander, said the soldiers and Army community stayed ready throughout 2020. “This did not put us down,” Logan said. “Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield are still plugging along.” According to Logan, soldiers on post – starting with first responders and medical team soldiers – are currently receiving the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to aid in a more healthy and ready Army in 2021. COVID-19 response The pandemic forced reduced manning in offices, introduced teleworking to several organizations within the Army, and encouraged new practices from what had become standard across the force. However, throughout the year soldiers of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield adapted to overcome the challenges, according to Logan. “One of the things I want to make sure the public understands is the Army has not slowed down,” Logan said. “We have not stopped. We continue to train, we continue to prepare, and we are ready to deploy should our nation call us to do so, and we have.” Several practices learned in 2020 are still being implemented and are helping the Army maintain readiness in the future. Intergovernmental service agreements Logan said while training and daily duties are performed inside the gates of the installations, it is the relationships outside the gates that set Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield apart from other installations. “We cannot be a community of excellence without the enduring relationships we have with our seven surrounding counties,” Logan said. There are currently five service agreements on Fort Stewart, said Randall Dutkiewicz, lead management analyst at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield garrison. Those include an animal-control services agreement with Chatham County and the grounds-maintenance support agreement with Long County, both implemented in 2020. Dutkiewicz added there are more in progress. “We’re always looking for more partners,” Logan said. “What we’ve done is taken away administrative restrictions on contracting. If it makes sense, if it benefits the civilian community as well as the military, if it is a reciprocal service that the city already pays for that we pay for, why not get together on this?” Deployments in 2020 The Marne community deployed two brigades – about 3,500 soldiers per brigade – and received two back during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Logan said. Logan said throughout the year testing was done, social distancing was practiced, and figuring out how to continue operations safely was a main priority when it came to deployments. “We’re our nation’s first responders,” Logan said. “We can’t afford to stop: you can’t telework a tank crew; you can’t telework an infantry squad. They have to continue to train and continue to prepare and deploy to fight and win our nation’s wars.” ‘Embracing technology, moving forward’ One way the garrison team ensured that readiness was maintained was by embracing technology, Logan said. Typical meetings held in a boardroom were conducted remotely via Microsoft Teams meetings. “We had to bring these programs up, we had to educate ourselves, and we had to implement that pretty rapidly,” Logan said. Various ceremonies were livestreamed during this past year, which was a change from the installations’ norms. Annual celebrations and holiday festivities were observed using alternate approaches to allow optimal health and safety of participants. “Now, that’s a tool that we have,” Logan said. “Had COVID not forced us to do things remotely like that, I don’t know that we would have come up with ideas like that.” Applications such as Digital Garrison came to fruition during the past year as a means of communicating with service members and the community. Users can access everything through this app from current weather conditions to upcoming Morale, Welfare and Recreation events through the app, Logan said. Additionally, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield have transitioned their new soldier welcome brief to a digital message soldiers and their families can access anytime online, set to launch in January, Logan said. “I think that is going to fit very well in the future and how we go forward with not just newcomers and our young single soldiers and family members, but also our workforce and how we operate on a daily basis,” Logan said. Welcoming the public on post Recreational attractions such as skeet and archery ranges are still accessible to the public on post, Logan said. He encouraged the community to take advantage of the installation’s competitive prices on golf, outdoor recreation activities, and bowling. He said for those activities inside the gates, community members must obtain a visitor’s pass, but for activities accessible from Georgia Highway 144, no pass is needed. “This is your Army,” Logan said. “Come see us, come learn about us, ask questions and reap the benefits of us being right here.” Logan said he continues to be in awe of how well the local community embraces the military. “It’s the daily interaction, the daily support, the understanding, care, and love that we get from those outside the gate that have not put on a uniform, but they are most definitely connected with us in every way,” Logan said. “I am extremely appreciative of that.” Logan said the Army has not slowed down for COVID-19 or any other reason, and that they continue to stay prepared when our nation needs them. “I hope that 2021 is better for all of us,” Logan said.