"Iraq Drawdown Requires Policies That Are Simple, Straightforward, Easily Understood, and Defen
October 14, 2009
By US Army, G-4
- From North Plainfied, New Jersey
- Graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point
- Married to Sara, a retired Lt. Col. and member of the Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame
- Last assignment was Commanding General, US Army Sustainment Command
<b>Q and A with MG Robert Radin</b>
Shortly after Major General Robert M. Radin assumed duties as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, last month, he spoke about his new role and how he sees Army Logistics evolving.
<b><i>Q: Can you tell us about your new job as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, G-4' What will your focus be' </b></i>
First and foremost is my responsibility to support Lt. Gen. Stevenson. My primary focus will be to help align my primary areas of responsibility to be in support of what he's trying to accomplish.
The second part is to bring to the G-4 some recent field experience and to make sure, as we work policy for the Army, that we understand the ramifications of the policy. Out in the field I used to joke that anything is doable on a power point slide. The challenge is the actual execution of that power point slide. So in the policies we create, it is important we take into account second and third order effects, so that we're not having to rethink the path forward.
<b><i>Q. Do you have a top goal'</b></i>
My goal is transparency for the G-4. And it's not transparency in that people can see through us. It's a matter that people can see into us. Another way of putting that is coordination -- coordination that is necessary within the Pentagon and with our Commands. How do we make sure that we are transparent, with them and to them, so that they can see into our process as we're trying to develop policies'
It's the old adage staff officers ask themselves as they're working a staffing action: who else needs to know' And no matter how hard we work at it, everything we do we will probably leave an important element out. The goal is to be absolutely transparent and anybody affected by the policies we're putting in place or the programs that we run has input into it.
I'm not saying everyone will influence the outcome, but ultimately the principal duty of the Army G-4 is to establish Army logistics policy. I liken it to the old Hanes underwear commercials -- it ain't Hanes until Inspector 12 says it's Hanes. That's what we add to this process.
<b><i>Q. With the responsible drawdown from Iraq getting into full swing next year what will be our biggest policy challenges'</b></i>
We need to make sure our policies are relatively simple, relatively straightforward, easily understood, and defensible. What I mean by defensible is that it should withstand the scrutiny of an audit, so taxpayers know we are taking care of their resources. If we embed the appropriate level of oversight, we will be able to say things are being executed the way we designed them and that we are being good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars.
<b><i>Q. What is our biggest challenge -- getting the material out of Iraq, into Afghanistan, or repairing it all'</b></i>
I think the biggest challenge is making sure we continue to get the resources we need to execute all these logistical missions. And resources are not necessarily money. Resources include people and time.
In very many respects, it's like writing a contract. We are writing the policy and issuing it to the field on how we're going to do the missions, supporting the current war fight as it migrates from Iraq to Afghanistan, taking care of the retrograde of the responsible drawdown and the movement of material out of Iraq, and resetting equipment in the Force. And our biggest challenge will be to get resources so logisticians in the field can execute the policies.
<b><i>Q. A priority for Lt. Gen. Stevenson is to ensure we do what we can to support Army Force Generation, and help Soldiers have more dwell time between assignments. How will we implement this'</b></i>
I am excited at the prospect of the 360-degree readiness program the G-4 has been developing over time, and how it will enable us to get the visibility necessary to make decisions on re-equipping our Army. The end state should be having the equipment reset as rapidly as necessary -- not necessarily as rapidly as possible. There is a difference. Our chief challenge here is to get that visibility to do the job right.
Yogi Berra would say when you come to a fork in the road, take it. What we need to realize is we're coming to the fork, as opposed to that we've passed the fork. We have to maintain that situational awareness, in both the execution of our policies and how efficient and effective they are, and adjust them if they are not meeting the desired end state.
<b><i>Q. In your last position, as Commanding General, US Army Sustainment Command, you brought contractor support to the theaters, and emphasized the civilian workforce. Are there some lessons learned from that'</b></i>
I look forward to helping foster career development -- of our civilian and our military workforce. A great number of people in our workforce in logistics are both Department of Army civilians and contractors. So I think it's part of our job to be the advocate for career development of our civilians.
What we need is to be agile and to rapidly change, and frequently we find the tool most responsive is a contract solution. But we should never forget our responsibility to do our governmental oversight of the contractor, and monitor the contracts to see we are getting what we have written into the statement of work.
<b><i>Q. You have served in Southwest Asia, Korea, Germany; and held several logistical positions in the states. What is your most memorable assignment'</b></i>
It was as a first lieutenant, being the Battalion Motor Officer for the 1st Battalion, 52nd Infantry, in Bamburg, Germany. And I am not so uncertain that most everything I learned about logistics I learned in that assignment.
My predecessor left on a Friday, and the Battalion Maintenance Tech, CW3 Bill Styers, had a heart attack that same Friday night. As I took over the BMO job on Monday I was missing a key player on the team so I went down to our support maintenance company, C Company, 123 Maintenance Bn. SFC Eaton, C Co, 123 Maintenance Bn., told me as we were struggling with what to do: "Lieutenant," he said, "the Army has spent 200 years and billions, and billions, and billions of dollars to figure out how to make maintenance and sustainment work. And if you follow it, it will work for you."
He was right. And that was 31 years ago. What we are doing here in the G-4 is our part of that process, establishing policy and writing the history of how logisticians will execute. Our responsibility is that we get it right for all the motor officers and Soldiers out there in the field.
<b><i>Q. What are you most proud of in your career'</b></i>
The programs we set in place at Rock Island to take care of our surviving Family members who had lost love ones in SWA. It was a very interesting path that brought it to my attention. A woman who had lost her husband sent me an e-mail saying, "General I don't think you're doing a good job of taking care of surviving Family members." I answered her note by saying "You're absolutely right."
I didn't even realize that we had any. We had no losses of Soldiers stationed at Rock Island; what I missed is that we had Family members who returned to the area. She gave me a wake-up call. I am proud of the efforts we have made for those surviving Family members, but we still have not done anything near what we can do. We need to recognize our responsibility, and make sure we never forget.
I challenge everybody in the G-4 to ask yourself, what else can you do' It's never easy. You never know what to say. Frequently, it's nothing more than giving a hug. We need to make sure when we see somebody wearing a Gold Star pin that we ask them about the story of their loved one. From my experience, what all those families want is for no one to forget the sacrifice of their loved ones.
<b><i>Q. What do you do in your free time'</b></i>
My wife and I are renovating a town house that we had bought when we were stationed here as majors in Army G-4 in the 1990s. And I enjoy spending time with our dog, who runs the house. One of the things I learned from my dog is that if you stare at a treat jar long enough, a treat will appear. But I'm not sure staring at a computer screen long enough will make a logistics policy appear...that takes hard work and that is what being in the Army G-4 is all about.