By Katie Fallon
One loyal member of the City of Sandy Springs’ government now faces another duty as a loyal member of the United States military with orders to Iraq.
Brad Chambers is the city’s director of Recreation and Parks, but he is also a 24-year veteran of the Naval Reserves, accounting for half of his life to date. Like thousands of reservists before him, the intelligence officer is preparing for a yearlong deployment to Iraq.
So far, Chambers said the city has not finalized plans on how the Recreation and Parks Department will operate in his absence or if an interim director will be named.
But, before he leaves, Chambers will compile a comprehensive list of all the department’s projects and their current stages. From that, the city will likely decide how to proceed.
Chambers, however, is confident that the department he has helmed since Sandy Springs became a city will continue to thrive while he is gone.
“In terms of concerns, there are a lot of talented people here,” he said. “However they decide to manage this, I don’t have any problems with thinking that the management will come up with a way to keep those things on schedule.”
One landmark project still very much in the planning stage is the Abernathy Greenway Linear Park, which will eventually stretch alongside Abernathy Road from Johnson Ferry Road to Roswell Road. While the Master Plan for the project has been approved, completion will not come for several years.
Because of that extended timeline, Chambers said the park’s progress will not suffer from his absence.
“Regarding Abernathy [Greenway Linear Park], one of the silver linings there is that the park aspect there won’t really come on line for another couple years,” Chambers said. “For the next year or two, they’ll be doing the road part of it so the park won’t even be an issue for a while.”
Though his family, which includes a grown daughter, is concerned, Chambers said she is handling news of his deployment in strides.
“She’s concerned,” Chambers said of his daughter. “I’m concerned, but I think anybody would be smart to be concerned. I don’t think I’m worried necessarily.”
Chambers, 48, will eventually be sent to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shield in Baghdad, but will first report for duty on Oct. 26 either locally in Atlanta or in Millington, Tenn., where he normally reports for drill duty. After a couple days of processing, Chambers will then report to San Diego for one week and then to Ft. Jackson, SC, for three weeks of weapons training. Although he is an intelligence officer, Chambers has to be prepared for anything.
“A lot of people like myself aren’t infantry so we don’t have that weapons training,” Chambers said. “Everybody who goes to Iraq has to have some weapons training.”
After a final week of preparation in Norfolk, Va., Chambers will fly to Kuwait and then to Iraq.
As an active reservist, Chambers has a similar commitment to those in other branches of the military, which includes one weekend of service per month and two weeks out of the year. However, because of a smaller number of personnel in the intelligence field, Chambers said his annual commitment often stretches to three or four weeks.
His deployment, the Knoxville native said, was almost inevitable.
“If you haven’t been recalled and mobilized, then you know it’s a possibility,” Chambers said. “In the intelligence field, there aren’t a lot of us so if you haven’t been, there’s a chance you’re going to go.”
Once in Iraq, Chambers will be working with a group called the Law and Order Task Force, which is a multi-national organization of both civilians and military personnel in the legal and intelligence fields who work with the Iraqi court system. Chambers explains his work in simple terms.
“The point is to take all the bad guys, try them, put them through the democratic process and if they’re found guilty, put them in jail,’ he said. “But in the process, we’re finding out all the intelligence that you can during the trial and interrogation and turn around and use that to find more bad guys and help save lives.”
His overseas deployment will not be Chambers’ first during wartime, but will be his first in a combat zone. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he was deployed to Stuttgart, Germany.
“It wasn’t a combat, hostile area, but it was due to 9/11,” he said.
Chambers said his military career began when several jobs ago, the personnel director at his office invited him to hear a talk on the Naval Reserves. The assistant city manager in that city, he said, was an intelligence officer in the Reserves. The manager talked to Chambers and his coworker about the Direct Commission Program, which takes professionals in the works force and trains them to be officers and intelligence professional.
“I thought it appealed to my sense of patriotism and a chance to see the world a little bit,” Chambers said. ‘I signed up and it has been a good ride so far.”