Stepping into Col. Rick Allbritton’s office, you are met with an assortment of souvenirs adorning the walls representative of his prestigious Army career spanning more than three decades.
Amongst the myriad of framed photos and plaques, he is quick to point out one memento to visitors: a simple yellow post-it note with the words ‘listen to all of them’ neatly printed on it in black marker.
“After about a month-and-a-half of taking command of Letterkenny Army Depot, I wrote myself that note,” Allbritton reflected. “I made it to remind myself that everybody has a voice on the depot, every voice matters, and everyone is trying to make the depot better.”
Allbritton has integrated this concept into his command of the depot, weighing others’ perspectives and anticipating outcomes.
“Nothing really prepares you for depot command because you’re running a business here,” Allbritton remarked. “You have to look at how things will impact the depot not just today or tomorrow but down the road as well.”
Serving as the commander of Letterkenny Army Depot is the first assignment of Allbritton’s Army career where he leads more Army civilians than Soldiers.
After his commissioning in the Quartermaster Corps in 1998, Allbritton served in varied capacities throughout his career. These ranged from serving as the Deputy Support Operations Officer, Platoon leader, executive officer, and logistics management officer leading up to his assignment as the Chief of Operations with the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, prior to taking command of Letterkenny Army Depot.
“None of my previous assignments really prepared me for command here,” Allbritton said. “I think what has made me successful, though, are the people that work with me.”
Allbritton reflects on his leadership style and the synergy amongst his leadership team that has propelled Letterkenny’s mission forward during his tenure.
“Strategy is a team event,” he remarked. “The commander just drives the boat and makes sure that it supports U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, U.S. Army Materiel Command and Department of Defense strategy. But it’s the team that is developing our plan to support that strategy and pushing it.”
Letterkenny’s modernization plan gained significant momentum under Allbritton’s command. Through tangible functions such as the Integrated Infrastructure Planning Board, decisions that will impact the future mission of the depot are developed, refined and enacted.
The depot also attained AS9100 and AS9110 certifications, extending the depot’s proficiencies in aviation ground power. As the Army continues to modernize, Letterkenny is also modernizing to support the sustainment requirements of emerging systems. Through engineering, program management and supply chain management developments, Letterkenny Army Depot has provided customers with considerable cost- and time-saving initiatives, increasing Army buying power. By nesting his guidance within U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command and U.S. Army Materiel Command priorities, Allbritton has ensured that Letterkenny will modernize its corner of the Organic Industrial Base by employing data-driven solutions, integrating emerging technology and innovating sustainment processes.
Although Allbritton saw significant advances in the depot’s capabilities and competencies, he reflects that the most rewarding part of his command was his ability to recognize the Letterkenny workforce.
At Letterkenny Army Depot, our people are our top priority, our clear advantage against any adversary, and the most critical component of our modernization efforts. Allbritton has routinely reinforced this priority by recognizing employees, coaching his team and mentoring the depot’s leaders.
“I want to remind our workforce to take care of themselves, take care of their teammates and give 100% in all they do. Remember to push their commander or supervisor to teach, coach, train and mentor them,” he shared. “I would ask the supervisors and directors not to put it all on their own shoulders. Do not be afraid to delegate because delegation creates experience. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail. One of my leaders told me, ‘I will allow you to fail, but I will never allow you to become a failure.’ You will always learn the most from your mistakes.”
As Allbritton prepares to relinquish command of Letterkenny Army Depot to Col. Donald C. Santillo June 29, he offered advice to the incoming commander.
“Learn the job. Learn the job through learning the jobs of others; learn what they do and the challenges they face,” he said. “Understand that you have a knowledgeable team who will give you the perspective needed to make hard decisions.”
Allbritton paused and moved his gaze across his office, letting it rest back on the yellow post-it with the black writing.
“And always, always listen to all of them.”