FORT LEE, Va. -- Col. Karin L. Watson took command of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Lee Aug. 7 at a ceremony in the Lee Club. She replaced Col. Hollie J. Martin who is retiring after 26 years of military service.
Among those present for the ceremony were Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general; Vincent E. Grewatz, director of Installation Management Command - Training; John E. Hall, deputy to the CASCOM commanding general; and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jonathan O. Yerby, CASCOM CWO, as well as invited guests from surrounding communities.
The Fort Lee workforce was able to watch the proceedings thru a livestream on the ArmyFortLee Facebook page.
Watson, who hails from the U.S. Territory of Guam, was commissioned in 1998 through the ROTC Program at the University of Guam. She rose through the ranks as a Military Police Corps officer.
During remarks, the married mother of two expressed a sense of encouragement in leading what she described as a team-oriented organization.
“The Army is a team sport, and what I have seen at Fort Lee thus far is a fine example of a team-of-teams,” she said. “As Colonel Martin has expressed to me on multiple occasions, the Fort Lee team is comprised of great people with a wealth of experience who do their jobs very well. Thank you to everyone who has helped plan and execute this ceremony. Your efforts behind the scenes are recognized and appreciated.”
Prior to coming to Fort Lee, Watson attended the National War College where she earned a master of science in National Security Strategy with a concentration in Cyber Security Leadership.
Other assignments listed in her bio include tours as the 705th Military Police Battalion (Detention) and facility commander, Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and division chief, detainee affairs, Joint Staff J-37 Directorate of Special Operations and Counterterrorism, at the Pentagon.
Watson has deployed for Operation Bright Star, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Martin, a native of Mount Hope, Kan., led the garrison through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, secured intergovernmental agreements with nearby local municipalities and made significant progress in improving Fort Lee’s oversight of privatized military housing management and maintenance.
Grewatz heralded her efforts, saying she checked off a lot of boxes while simultaneously advocating for countless others.
“During her command,” he said, “she’s proved herself through a period of IMCOM reorganization. … She’s also seen an increase of training load under very interesting conditions – social distanced enhanced training – that has required a higher level of oversight to manage the facilities … and all the other accommodations of that training mission over the last two years, which are unlike anything we’ve seen in the recent past.”
Under the reorganization finalized last year, the Army Materiel Command became IMCOM’s higher headquarters. Also in 2019, Fort Lee grew its field training areas substantially to meet increased demands. It added more than 130 acres of training ground.
Martin also guided the installation through constrained funding, restricted hiring, housing trepidations and a pandemic almost too difficult for any commander to bare, Grewatz acknowledged.
“There’s not many who’ve done that all in two years,” he said. “To her credit, that is a lot of accomplishments in a very, very short time.”
Grewatz was quick to point out Martin was not alone in taking on the garrison’s many challenges. Members of her staff – her command sergeants major, deputies and directors – deserve to share in her accolades.
“Together, they postured our garrison for continued success and set a path to become efficient, responsive, flexible and capable of accomplishing any mission that Fort Lee has been asked to deliver for our Army,” Grewatz said.
Martin, whose novelty “Wizard of Oz” ruby-red replica slippers was on hand during her arrival ceremony two years ago and were again present on a mantle behind the lectern at this event, spent her time at the mic thanking the IMCOM and CASCOM leadership, the community partners and a long list of individual Soldiers and civilians.
Additionally, Martin mentioned key accomplishments with pride such as the training area expansion; the E911 emergency communications enhancement achieved through a partnership with Prince George County; the Jefferson Terrace housing redevelopment; the Ordnance Training Support Center standup; and the addition of a new dining facility and barracks, among others.
Welcoming Watson to the garrison team, she said to her replacement: “You’re about to start the most exciting experience in the Army. No day is the same. ... No task is too great if you take your SME (subject matter experts) with you.”
Grewatz presented Martin with the Legion of Merit prior to the ceremony. While the colonel didn’t indicate what she plans to do professionally after retirement, she did mention spending much-needed time with her family in Kansas.