Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) welcomed a new executive officer in October after saying goodbye to longtime XO CDR Robert Lusk. CDR Brian Koch comes to the command after a tour with U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Neb., and a long career flying helicopters. His introduction to Navy life started early.
“My dad retired from the Navy as a Supply Corps Commander; I was born in Naples and we moved a fair amount,” he said, understating the regular moves with a grin. “I ended up graduating high school in Virginia Beach and went to Virginia Tech on an ROTC scholarship. I wanted to be a pilot from a pretty young age.
”An assignment to a helicopter squadron in the summer before his senior year at Virginia Tech helped Koch settle on flying helicopters. After receiving his commission and completing flight school, his various assignments led to flight hours on just about every rotary-wing aircraft in the Navy and Marine Corps inventory.
An experience on Koch’s second deployment with HSL-48 in 2007 stands out as a very satisfying answer to why he joined the Navy. “We anchored off of Nicaragua for a week after a Category 5 Hurricane made landfall there. We flew both SH-60B Seahawks off of the USS Samuel B. Roberts for up to 12 hours each day in order to deliver the needed food, water, and medicine to the victims. To this day, it was one of the most worthwhile and memorable things I’ve been able to do in the Navy.
”His department head tour with HSM-46 stands out, however, as his most rewarding. “It was a very close-knit team,” he said. “Deploying with 2 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, six pilots, three aircrewmen, and a solid maintenance team was a great leadership experience for me.
”While NSASP has slightly more personnel than that, close-knit is an apt description for the team that manages shoreline operations at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren and NSF Indian Head. “I was trying to find something interesting,” he said, describing his orders. “There was a need for an executive officer and the missions here sounded really unique.
”Not unlike the helicopters that require both arms and both legs at the controls, there are a lot of moving parts and Koch has only begun touring around the installations and meeting his new shipmates. He is especially keen to learn more about the tenant commands and how NSASP can best support their missions. “I want to get a feel for all they do and provide for the Navy, and what their needs are,” he said.
As for the NSA South Potomac team, Koch is impressed with the resilience the command demonstrated and continues to demonstrate in response to COVID. Pandemic or not, the command’s responsibilities continued on. “As far as South Potomac, our primary role is to support the tenant commands, sailors, and base residents,” he said. “I want to ensure the [tenant commands] have everything they need to get their job done, and that our residents are safe and accommodated.”
Of course, nothing is simple during a pandemic – especially when combined with budget constraints. “The biggest challenge is that we’re working in such a unique environment… operating in the Navy during COVID and with an aging infrastructure,” said Koch. “The challenges are going to keep coming. I want people to think outside the box and really prioritize their needs and communicate that up the chain.”
Koch acknowledges that while easy solutions will not be forthcoming, good communication can help mitigate those challenges. He wants the NSASP team to focus on what it can achieve despite the obstacles, such as the base beautification projects undertaken by NSASP Sailors. “I look forward to taking an active part in improving the day-to-day lives of all those that work and reside onboard these two installations. I’m proud to be here and can already see that this will be a rewarding three years for me and my family,” he said.
When Koch isn’t leading NSASP or flying helicopters, he prefers to spend his time with his wife, Barbie, and their two children, Drew and Charlotte. When off the clock he enjoys cycling, reading, time outdoors, watching Hokie football, and most recently canoeing Machodoc Creek with his family.