By Jacqueline Boucher
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — A winner of this year’s Defense Department’s highest civilian employee award could be described as a product of evolution.
Deputy Commander Frank Zardecki, whose unwavering commitment to Tobyhanna Army Depot has ensured its position as a leader within the Army’s organic industrial base, accepted the 58th Annual Distinguished Civilian Service Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon on Monday.
“Frank’s achievements exemplify the highest standards of public service,” said Col. Gerhard P.R. Schröter, depot commander. “He devotes his career to individual and organizational excellence and inspires others to settle for nothing less.”
Armed with a long-term vision and the ability to affect change, Zardecki is guided by a mission that is integral to the accomplishments of the joint warfighter, depot employees and local communities.
“The importance of what we do demands success,” Zardecki said, adding that he maintains high expectations for himself and the depot. “Leaders must be willing to change with the times and technology to set the stage for future generations.”
Personnel familiar with Zardecki’s leadership style are witness to his initiatives to transform depot maintenance from traditional repair and overhaul facilities into networks of technology and sustainment in the organic industrial base, enhancing joint warfighter readiness.
“From a mission perspective, it is primarily ensuring that we produce high-quality equipment and services at the lowest cost to our customers,” Zardecki said. “Equally important to me is ensuring the long-term viability of the depot and posturing ourselves for the future.”
In a letter, CECOM commanding general Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell “wholeheartedly” recommended Zardecki for the civilian service award. During the nomination process, the general spoke highly of the deputy commander’s years of service to the nation.
“Frank has significantly contributed to Defense Department depot maintenance evolution and transformation throughout his 50-year career,” he said. “His vision has led to dramatic changes in logistics processes and structure, improving readiness and delivery of products and services to all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.”
The general also pointed out that as a “widely-recognized” leader in the DoD maintenance community, Zardecki exemplifies the highest level of civilian service. “He is a critical member of the CECOM team and deserving of this prestigious award.”
Several events have charted the course of Zardecki’s career; first as an active-duty member of the Air Force, then as an entry level employee at Tobyhanna. His steady climb through the ranks culminated with the depot’s top civilian post; each job progressively increased his reputation for innovative approaches to depot-level repair of communications electronics equipment.
Zardecki’s expertise in depot operations and maintenance policies is a commodity often sought by organizations throughout the DoD. A long list of special assignments, task forces, study groups and panels is testament to his willingness to foster improvements in depot maintenance and logistics support.
Highlights of a decades-long career include serving as the avionics representative for the Army on Inter-Service studies, a tour at the former Depot Systems Command (DESCOM) to participate in the Logistics 81 study, and the strength of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s standing with Tobyhanna during the Base Realignment and Closure years.
Ideas that came to fruition during the course of Zardecki’s career include the adoption of new approaches to enhance mission performance that led to the Army Materiel Command’s confidence in selecting Tobyhanna as the pilot depot for implementing the Logistics Modernization Program in fiscal 2003.
Plus, there was a logistics transformation initiative that included the expansion from a facility in Northeast Pennsylvania to a global enterprise of 70 forward repair sites, including Southwest Asia, that provide on-site support at U.S. Army installations as well as to U.S. Army units deployed for overseas contingency operations.
“As an individual you can make a difference,” Zardecki said. “It takes commitment, hard work, perseverance and the courage of your convictions.”
The DoD Distinguished Civilian Service Award is the highest honor given by the Secretary of Defense to a DoD career civilian. It is presented in an annual ceremony to a small number of DoD civilian employees whose service reflects exceptional devotion to duty and extremely significant contributions of a broad scope to the efficiency, economy or improvement in the operation of the department.
Ashton Carter, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, will present the awards to the eight recipients; Zardecki is one of two Army winners.
This award recognizes career employees at all levels for their exceptional achievements and honors performance characterized by extraordinary, notable or prestigious contributions that impact the DoD as a whole.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department’s largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna’s missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 3,700 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command’s mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.