• Warrant officer honored for innovativeness

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Barber, a military observer, coach/trainer in Operations Group Bravo, Mission Command Training Program, was honored as the Military Officer of the Year for Excellence in Geospatial Intelligence from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in a ceremony Jan. 24 at the McHugh Training Center.
    “Chief is a constant professional (and) is one of those guys that every staff and every team is always dying to get,” said Col. Pat Proctor, chief of Operations Group Bravo, MCTP. “He’s the guy that is 50 feet deep in his particular area of expertise, but is also that pinch player that can play in any position and that can cover down in any area and make the whole team successful and never bat an eye while he’s doing it. If you walk into a team that Chief is a part of, no matter what it is he’s doing, you’d think that was his career field.”
    Proctor said Barber’s contributions extend beyond his initial team.
    “You’re always communicating out to the Army and shaping the Army in those information systems,” he said. “I’m just kind of a silent observer while he is influencing the entire Army on mission command information systems. Just watching that conversation, just watching the level that you’re playing at, it’s really a privilege to be able to serve with you.”
    Col. Loren Traugutt, chief of the Army NGA Support Team, presented Barber with the award and said there were three qualities in Barber that stood out to him. The first was Barber’s leadership.
    “In sending him down to (U.S. Southern Command), he was developing and mentoring and coaching not just soldiers, but also members both on the SOUTHCOM staff and on the SOUTHCOM NGA support team,” Traugutt said. “Not that they need mentoring on GEOINT, but what they do need mentoring on is how the Army operates, how the joint forces operate, so that’s what Chief was able to provide.”
    The second was Barber’s innovativeness.
    “Chief helped spearhead the first unclassified GEOINT note using pure commercial imagery,” Traugutt said.
    Barber’s innovativeness prompted Traugutt to see Barber’s third quality as a trailblazer.
    “Commercial imagery is the way of the future for NGA, for all of us. Chief has been speaking at head summits, being able to show NGA and the force just the importance that commercial imagery is going to play in the future,” he said. “As I’ve talked to GEOINT soldiers in the cores of the divisions, they don’t even realize that there are unclassified databases and all this imagery and that’s something Chief knows. So, Chief’s not only helping NGA, but he’s helping the service and that speaks volumes.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Traugutt said this innovation continued when Barber was asked to join NGA in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016 to assist in hurricane disaster relief.
    “Chief here was doing a lot of things on behalf of NGA,” he said. “For NGA to feel comfortable and take a soldier outside the organization and put him on that team to go do something like that, that alone speaks volumes on his performance abilities.”
    Traugutt said receiving the award is no small feat and was happy that Barber’s family — wife Renee, 6-year-old son Noah and 1-year-old son Jacob — were able to attend.
    “This is certainly a big deal and certainly says something about your performance and also your potential and what we’re looking for in the future to continue to bring NGA and the Army together,” he said. “We pull family together to highlight the accomplishments of the soldier, but it’s not just the accomplishments of the soldier because the accomplishments and support of the family is highlighted also.”
    Barber said in receiving the award, two things came to mind.
    “I realized a long time ago, anything past the rank of E-4, you’re no longer successful doing anything by yourself. I haven’t done anything by myself since I was an E-4, before I transitioned to noncommissioned officer then to warrant officer. So, the first thing I think of is I’ve had a lot of help,” Barber said.
    “The second thing I think about is that I’m so glad I have in my leadership in Ops Group Bravo is the blind trust in me as a professional. Looking back now, we were more familiar with Mission command citation and training program, and I now know blind trust is that decentralized principle of the mission commander trusting your subordinates.”
    Barber said he also couldn’t have done anything he’s done without the support of his wife and family.
    “I do want to thank my wife and kids for being here,” he said. “I’m very thankful for you, Renee, and I want to thank you publicly for holding down the fort when I’m gone.”
    Renee Barber said she was happy to see her husband receive the award.
    “I think he very much deserves it,” she said. “He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever witnessed and I’m so proud of him.”
    Barber also thanked his parents for the role they played in his achievements.
    “I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m never the strongest, the fastest or the smartest at anything ever, no matter what organization I’m a part of,” he said. “But, I am thankful for the work ethic (my parents) instilled in me. I think I’m thankful that they raised me to be a carnivore, to have that work ethic to go the extra mile. So, between that, my family, and leadership giving me the opportunities to lead, I want to thank you.”
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