Story by SGT Nicholas Holmes on 07/30/2018FORT LESLEY J. MCNAIR, D.C. Soldiers, family, friends and colleagues gathered to welcome Command Sgt. Maj. Richard A. Woodring as he assumed responsibility of the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and U. S. Army Military District of Washington, during a change of responsibility ceremony.
During the ceremony, hosted by Maj. Gen. Michael L. Howard, commanding general, JFHQ-NCR/MDW, in Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer - Henderson Hall, Virginia, June 12, Woodring expressed gratitude.
"I am both honored and humbled by this opportunity," Woodring said, as he addressed the audience. "I am not successful because what I have done, rather I have been fortunate to ride the coat tails of the best men and women our country has to offer."
Woodring was preceded by Command Sgt. Maj. Paul E. Biggs, who served as the unit's command sergeant major for more than two years.
After assuming responsibility, Woodring wasted no time taking on his new roles and responsibilities.
"In one word my first weeks were hectic," Woodring said, as he chuckled. "Every day there is literally something different. This [unit] touches a little bit of everything. From oversight of the garrisons, to ceremonial duties, I had no idea of all the little touch points that we are responsible for. It is a constant go here, which is very exciting."
The diverse command is responsible for maintaining situational awareness and conducts homeland defense and civil support operations to defend the National Capital Region, as directed. The organization draws together resources of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and NORAD into a single point headquarters for planning, coordination and execution of missions.
Woodring entered the military under the delayed entry program in the Army Reserves, in October 1984. He attended both basic and advanced individual training at Fort McClellan, Alabama.
After training, he went on to study criminal justice, seeking a career in law enforcement.
"I went to college for about two weeks," he said as he laughed. "During my first week of college classes, the teachers talked about term papers and finals. I knew I wasn't the greatest student, so it was then I decided to forgo college and go active."
After his short stint in college, the Kansas native entered active duty in June of 1986.
This decision was undeniably the right move for Woodring, he said.
"The discipline and structure is what really attracted me to the military," he continued. "So when I went to [basic combat training] and [advanced individualized training] I really excelled, and found myself in leadership roles."
Throughout his career, Woodring has served in many leadership positions that have prepared him for his current assignment.
These assignments including: the provost marshal sergeant major for the Operational Protection Directorate, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; command sergeant major, 8th MP Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; and senior enlisted leader Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435, Camp Sabalu, Harrison, Afghanistan, among others.
"When you have been in as long as I have you naturally pick things up along the way," Woodring said. "I think that all of those experiences in some way or another have helped prepare me for this assignment."
Prior to taking responsibility of the command, Woodring served as the Army Provost Marshal Sergeant Major in Washington, D.C.
While serving as the senior enlisted advisor of the command, Woodring plans to advocate for the members of the unit and guarantee the command maintains readiness.
"I want to take advantage of every opportunity to show case the diversity and talent of our Soldiers and civilians in this organization," Woodring said. "A lot of what we do is high profile, if we make a mistake the world can see it. My priority to ensure we are trained and prepared for our task and missions. If we are not prepared to do our jobs correctly it can have a great impact on many people."
In closing, Woodring acknowledged the gravity of his new responsibilities while expressing his appreciation for the opportunity.
"It can be a little intimidating knowing all that this assignment requires," he said. "What I have gained is the chance to see the Army through a different lens. A lot of my path has been military police organizations. This command allows you to see the Army in a very different lens. We are just responsible and involved in so many different [functions] and I am excited for what is ahead."