Focus on Team, Mission as Holland Assumes New Role at USAMRDC
He's only been at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command for a few weeks, but Joseph Holland is already knee-deep in meetings and paperwork, fielding calls from both command leadership and laboratory personnel across the country. As the command's new Deputy to the Commanding General – the first person to ever hold that title – Holland is, as always, eager to tackle the challenge.
"I'm walking through the door as an open book," says Holland, a Soldier for Life who spent 31 years in uniform before retiring late last year to transition into his new role. "I like to think of myself as a quick study, but right now I'm in listening mode."
While he's learning the layout of USAMRDC now, Holland is eager to step into a setting filled with, as he puts it, "any number of opportunities for the command as a whole." He comes to USAMRDC following a two-year stint as the first-ever permanent Deputy Chief of Staff at Army Futures Command, where he was charged with – among a slew of other responsibilities – shaping a substantial command budget and, in turn, ensuring each subordinate command was meeting established goals. It was likely that role at AFC – as well as his substantial interactions with USAMRDC leaders in several key areas – that paved the way for the appointment to his current position. According to Holland himself, it is his experience at both the strategic and operational levels where he shines brightest – and, ultimately, where he hopes to contribute most effectively.
"I like to think I had a special kind of kinship with MRDC senior leaders when I was at Army Futures Command," says Holland. "With regards to AFC, the command is integral to managing resources – both people and money – and so I had a lot of awareness of some of the opportunities and important ongoing matters at USAMRDC."
Holland comes from a military family, so he has a built-in appreciation of the opportunities and intricacies of both military life and professional workflow. His father Barry logged 29 years of military service – including multiple tours in Vietnam – prior to his retirement in 1993. On top of that, his mother Cindy is a retired Army civilian Registered Nurse. Together, Holland and his wife of 26 years, Laura, have four children: two sons and two daughters.
While his new role will entail tackling the top priorities and supporting the goals of Brig. Gen. Tony McQueen, Commanding General of USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, Holland has already been tasked with several key objectives.
At the top of that list includes the command's transition to the Defense Health Agency, which is slated to occur later this year, as well as providing oversight of all new construction and physical development across the command, a task which includes boosting safety and security protocols where needed. Notably, completion of the construction of the new U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases facility falls under this heading, with Holland saying he is eager to open the building as soon as possible. His additional duties include enhancing collaboration across all USAMRDC laboratories while ensuring a collective alignment with McQueen's vision for the command as a whole.
However it is the aforementioned transition to DHA which will likely be the most consequential of the command's upcoming events; one that has garnered the lion's share of his attention thus far.
"I learned very early on that the best way to approach the transition is to look at it in terms of a 'merger and acquisition,'" says Holland. "And so we've got to welcome all aspects of that effort as we are looking forward to that transition, because there are some golden opportunities that we've got lying ahead of us as an organization."
Indeed, it's his positive attitude that has come to define Holland, and no doubt one that has served him well across the entirety of his military (and now civilian) career. As a seeming testament to that unique combination of positivity and a consistent, decades-long work ethic, Holland will be inducted into the Senior Executive Service ranks during a ceremony at the Fort Detrick Auditorium on March 11. From his perspective, induction into this keystone role is simply proof that he can help get the job done – no matter the setting, no matter the challenge.
"I may have taken the uniform off, but I've got a depth of experience of working alongside Army leaders," says Holland. "It's very exciting to be here, and I am really embracing this role at MRDC."