Rothstein takes on garrison commander role, new leadership challenges
By Rona S. Hirsch
Since assuming command in July, Rothstein has been familiarizing himself with Fort Meade's people, agencies and infrastructure.
But that is no small task. The installation is the largest employer in Maryland. And as the Base Realignment and Closure process nears completion, Fort Meade is now the third largest workforce of any Army installation.
But Rothstein, a career intelligence officer, is committed to maintaining communication with the post's diverse communities -- his target audiences. They include the garrison workforce; partner organizations; the service members, civilians and families residing on post; and the greater Fort Meade community both inside and outside the fence line.
"I welcome initiatives and ideas from these targeted populations to continue the growth and pleasure that Fort Meade has to offer," said Rothstein, who resides on post with his wife, Audrey, and their two children, Emily, 15, and Sam, 12. "I encourage the use of my open door policy and all other network media. The challenge is ensuring I can spend enough time with all targeted audiences."
Taking time to address concerns is part of Rothstein's larger objective of serving the entire community.
"He wants to get out there," Deputy Garrison Commander John Moeller said. "He wants to meet them, he wants to partner with them. He is a good listener and wants to hear what their concerns and issues are."
Connecting with people has always been a priority for Rothstein, who initially pursued a career in special education.
"I have a love for teaching and for children," he said. "I found it a natural attraction to go into teaching children with special needs."
That draw to serve derives from his upbringing in a traditional-Reform Jewish home in New Jersey. The youngest of four, Rothstein was born in 1963 outside Wayne, N.J. "I lost the accent, but I kept the attitude," he said.
Rothstein's father Harold is a retired high school biology teacher and a veteran of the Korean War. His mother Marilyn is a retired nurse. His sister Dr. Lori Andrew is a pediatrician in Virginia and his brother Dr. Jamie Rothstein is a vascular surgeon in New Hampshire. Their brother Michael David, who was a stockbroker, died in 1994. (The middle names of Rothstein's children are for his late brother.)
In 1983, Rothstein enlisted in the Army Reserve. "Everybody was very supportive, but my parents wanted to ensure that I thought it through," he said. "My parents taught me that everything I do should be to the fullest. They didn't care if I was a teacher or Soldier, as long as I was the best at it."
Three years later, he earned a bachelor's degree in special education at Lock Haven State University in Pennsylvania. Rothstein planned to stay in the Reserve, but after graduating college in 1986, he went on active duty as a commissioned officer in the Chemical Corps.
"It was the furthest from my dream sheet but I thoroughly enjoyed it," he recalled. "My first few years were very exciting and very interesting. But I still had that interest in teaching special ed and, honestly, I was looking at getting out."
After serving in Germany within an air defense artillery unit, Rothstein decided to do one more tour. In 1990, he transitioned to the Military Intelligence Corps. "And from that point on I never looked back," he said.
Rothstein enrolled in the advanced course for intelligence, now called the Captain's Career Course, at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. "The neat thing about intelligence is that you get to work at all levels - tactical, operational and strategic," he said. "That's what excited me about Army intelligence."
Rothstein's first duty station was at Fort Ord, Calif., where he met his soon-to-be wife, Audrey, who worked in child care and had just relocated from Fort Campbell, Ky.
In 1993, the couple arrived at Fort Meade, where he worked in strategic intelligence with the 743rd Military Intelligence Battalion at the National Security Agency, while Audrey led the before- and after-school program at Child, Youth and School Services on post.
In 1994, they married in a military ceremony attended by his family and friends at Fort Belvoir, Va., just two months after his brother died. "It was very emotional," Rothstein recalled.
After serving in the Pentagon as staff action officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Rothstein attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1998.
In 1999, he moved with his family to Germany for six years to serve with the 302nd MI Battalion and V Corps in Heidelberg and Wiesbaden and then in multiple staff positions for the European Command, Stuttgart.
"We loved it," Rothstein said of living in Germany. "We traveled all over. We took total advantage of the sites that Europe has to offer. My wife took full advantage of Belgian flea markets and Polish pottery."
From 2005 to 2007, Rothstein served as senior intelligence officer for both the 7th Infantry Division and for Fort Carson, Colo. During that period, he deployed to Iraq with the 10th Special Forces in Baghdad and Balad.
In 2007, Rothstein returned to the NSA to serve at the Meade Operations Center and then as the military assistant to the science advisor for the NSA director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander. Working in special programs focusing on Soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rothstein traveled frequently to Iraq.
After attending the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., Rothstein deployed from 2010 to 2011 to Afghanistan to serve with the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, initially as the collection manager and later as chief of the Intelligence Operations Division.
Rothstein was selected as garrison commander through a slating process, competing with other qualified candidates at his level "for the privilege to command," he said.
"When they picked him, they picked the right one," said Maj. Leslie Gorman of the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion.
Gorman worked with Rothstein in Iraq when she served with Multinational Coalition Forces Iraq from 2009 to 2010 and also knew him from previous intelligence missions.
"He's an outstanding leader, one of the most approachable leaders I've ever known," she said. "He's always positive, very smart, willing to take a challenge, very family-oriented, very down to earth. With BRAC, I think he's the right person to reach out to the community and to bridge partnerships."
Since taking command, Rothstein has been outlining his objectives. "I'm still working through concrete goals I want to accomplish," he said. "However, I guarantee they will be aligned to best serve the targeted populations. I'm finding out pretty quickly that the community is not shy. And I look forward to taking on all the challenges that lie ahead. As a good leader, a key trait is knowing how to listen."
Despite his hectic schedule, Rothstein is adamant about spending time with his family. "I was challenged by extended trips away from home, so the focus of family time is good, strong quality time," he said.
He also tries to schedule recreation into his day.
A die-hard New York Yankees and Giants fan, Rothstein wrestled in high school and college and played rugby in the Army. "I got hurt a lot, had surgery and broken bones," he said, "but with all that said, I keep going."
Now he relaxes on Fort Meade's jogging trails and golf course.
"I enjoy golf," Rothstein said. "I'm going to balance my time, getting on the golf course with Command Sergeant Major [Charles E. Smith]."
Balancing work, family and recreation is a philosophy garnered from his family-oriented upbringing and military experience.
"It's from the nurturing of my parents and siblings, and with the 28 years of being in uniform -- the blending of both," Rothstein said. "And having been at war for 10 years, I've seen a lot and been around a lot, and recognize the need for balance. It's an understanding of your own personal values. That's what it comes down to - self-actualization.
"As a leader, I then take that and blend it with the job I'm faced with. I will not change what I am as garrison commander, but I will use what I am to be your garrison commander."
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