ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. –
Navy Capt. Jeffrey Carty is signing off after 29 years of service, officially retiring June 1.
During his time as a naval flight officer, he flew the S-3B Viking during four deployments, and served as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. Throughout his honorable career, he flew multiple aircraft to include the Mirage 2000 in Istres, France, the F-111 in Darwin, Australia, and a number of helicopters and turboprops.
Carty, whose call sign is Waldo, utilized his aviation skills at the Defense Contract Management Agency in several positions. He has served as DCMA’s Aircraft Integrated Maintenance Operations commander based in St. Augustine, Florida, since March 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic shutdown began the same month he took command.
“DCMA is fortunate to have had an experienced aviator like Waldo leading the team at AIMO,” said Army Lt. Gen. David Bassett, DCMA director. “He is a trusted professional in every sense of the word and knows how to inspire the best from the AIMO team to deliver for our (maintenance, repair and overhaul) customers across the services.”
Now three years later, Carty will unofficially start his retirement March 2 during a change-of-command ceremony. The ceremony will be held in St. Augustine, Florida, in conjunction with AIMO’s annual performance review. He will relinquish command to Navy Capt. Gabriel Hohner, who recently completed a tour as commanding officer at DCMA AIMO St. Augustine.
“My immediate plans include taking a bit of time off to tear down an old barn on the property my wife and I purchased in northern New Hampshire. I’ll then be exploring job opportunities in the local area,” said Carty, who hails from Meredith, New Hampshire.
Leading during a pandemic
As the AIMO commander who faced the challenges of pandemic leadership, Carty found the job rewarding, especially when his pilot skills were called upon. Carty accumulated over 2,400 mishap-free flight hours in more than 30 different types of aircraft and logged over 550 arrested landings in the S-3B Viking. Besides being a designated naval flight officer, he is also an aerospace engineering duty officer.
“This tour has been extremely rewarding,” he said. “We have a fantastic team here at AIMO. From a personal perspective, after a number of years out of the cockpit, it was nice to be able to fly a variety of aircraft on which our command works.
“I was even able to get back out to a carrier for a few traps (landing the aircraft on the ship) with the Naval Air Training Command, which is supported by our AIMO St. Augustine contract management office. Definitely, from a mission standpoint, seeing this team continue to focus on delivering aircraft and components to the warfighter from the early days of the pandemic until now has been professionally rewarding. Our entire team didn’t really miss a beat once we figured out the right way to balance risk with mission, and I’m really proud of all of them for that.”
Carty said he will miss the DCMA team as he transitions from Florida back to the New England area — where his family still resides.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering from the Naval Academy in 1994. Carty also has a Master of Science in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He joined the military because numerous family members, including some of his grandparents, his father, aunts, uncles, and cousins served in all of the service branches. They inspired him to serve his country in uniform.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible folks, both military and civilian across DCMA, from all walks of life,” he said. “They each have had interesting stories to share. The relationships have also extended across all of the military services to the buying commands, the contractors with whom we work, and probably most importantly, those who deploy, like our Contingency Response Force personnel and the warfighters. This is a people business and the quality of the larger team focused on the defense of our nation, which has really been impressive.”
Under Carty, AIMO became a separate command per a request from the previous DCMA director, Navy Vice Adm. David Lewis. AIMO is comprised of more than 500 military and civilian personnel working at seven contract management offices encompassing 62 contractor sites across 15 states. As commander, Carty was responsible for the oversight of more than $85 billion in government contracts specializing in maintenance, repair and overhaul of military aircraft across the Department of Defense.
Previous DCMA experience
But, this was not Carty’s first assignment at DCMA. He previously served as the commanding officer at DCMA Northrop Grumman Bethpage in New York and later served at the agency headquarters as the executive director of DCMA Aircraft Operations from July 2015 until July 2017. Those assignments prepared him for his AIMO leadership position.
“At headquarters, building relationships with all of the other components and the regions was critical to getting my small piece in Aircraft Operations done,” Carty said. “I was also able to get out to a variety of CMOs during that tour and see how different contractors and aviation program teams were operating in order to bring best practices back to headquarters.
“When I came here to AIMO, having that network already built was incredibly important. It helped soften some rough patches, usually with a quick phone call. I got really good advice from our component heads and other region commanders as we developed as an operational unit, which in turn, helped me immensely in my role.”
Timothy McCorkle, AIMO deputy commander, said that Carty was committed to the AIMO mission and employees. He mentioned that because of Carty’s previous experience, he instilled safety, respect, timeliness and emphasized doing quality work as part of the organization’s culture. McCorkle credited Carty for strengthening relationships with AIMO customers.
“His past experiences as a DCMA CMO commander and as the executive director of DCMA Aircraft Operations made him the perfect fit as the first commander of AIMO as an operational unit. He effortlessly worked to broaden the organization’s influence across the agency and strengthened the level of engagements with customers across the services,” said McCorkle. “Above all, he has balanced a decisive leadership style with the ability to empower his people, which has enabled the organization to become more efficient and effective.”
Leadership lessons learned
Carty credits his long naval career to mentors he met along the way, including three previous DCMA directors and leaders he served with in the fleet.
“During my tours in the Navy, I also had more than a few commanding officers who empowered their teams to go out and execute. They didn’t embrace a ‘no-fail’ mentality,” Carty noted. “We learned from our mistakes and did better the next time. That has been a model I’ve embraced as I’ve worked with seven different CMOs at AIMO. Each commander, while different in style, has done a great job leading their respective teams to accomplish the mission while also taking care of their people.”
After almost three decades in the military, Carty has some additional useful advice for current and aspiring leaders.
“I think the tried and true advice I got heading into command was, ‘You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion.’ It’s important to listen to your supervisors, peers, and subordinates in command to ensure you have a good perspective on a potential course of action, how your team is doing, and what may or may not work. Ultimately, in command, it’s your call, but it’s good to be able to see how others may feel or react as well as know where you may have some blind spots.”
“It’s also important to underreact to bad news. In the aircraft MRO world, we experience the occasional flight or ground mishap, or we have issues at contractor facilities from time to time with industrial accidents. Aviation is a dangerous business. It’s important to gather all the facts, determine the root cause, and work together with all the stakeholders to create an effective and enduring corrective action plan. You should never rush to judgment because not everything is always how it first seems.”
As Carty wraps up his career, he hopes more individuals will gain a greater understanding about DCMA and its mission.
“Not a lot of people really know about DCMA and the importance of what we do within the Department of Defense,” Carty stated. “The real value of DCMA is the insight we can provide to our customers since we’re at contractor facilities worldwide. That insight, coupled with our ability to hold contractors accountable to deliver quality products via contract surveillance, are reasons why our agency is so impactful.”