Brig. Gen. James S. Moore
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

As a sustainment command, the 593rd ESC tracks and manages readiness for our supported units. Identifying trends and gaps across I Corps along with assessing personnel and equipment shortages and maintenance needs, our logistics, medical, and human resources professionals provide solutions to keep units operational. It's what we do. So sustaining personnel readiness in our own units should be easy, but it's not.

Expertise aside, we face the same challenges as other units in building and sustaining our own readiness, especially personnel readiness. Like all things Army, readiness is about people. In evaluating our own performance, we've identified six key components to enhancing our personnel readiness.

First. Start small, progress with process. In the last year, we improved our personnel readiness by three percent across the 2,500 Soldier ESC, but some 100 to 200 Soldier companies have seen improvements of over 20 percent. Three percent may seem small, but the hidden story is that we have been able to sustain that improvement. By focusing on processes that promoted more accurate reporting, we ensured we were able to maintain our momentum.

Units sometimes approach personnel readiness with knee-jerk reactions. All of us have attended mandatory training before because "we need to get our numbers up," regardless of whether individually we were compliant. This approach wastes Soldiers' time and energy. That energy is better focused on identifying systems and processes that project requirements and track progress. Flexing to improve in one area most likely results in pitfalls elsewhere, and the gains you seek are only temporary in nature. We've found establishing systems from the company to the one-star ESC level, has proven to be our underlying foundation to improving readiness.

Second, leaders drive and lock in change to a culture. Leader engagement early is the key to preventing and resolving issues that make a Soldier non-deployable. Engaged leadership and communication are key ingredients to keeping Soldiers prepared to accomplish the mission. Leadership involvement also ensures long-term success as new Soldiers enter the various formations. Leaders communicate expectations and clearly express the importance of readiness. Leaders are also vital in bringing all the different agencies supporting Soldiers to bear to improve readiness.

Third, synchronize your enablers. One of the most useful forums for improving readiness has been our weekly Soldier readiness synchronization meetings. Our ESC command sergeant major and chief of staff bring our brigade, battalion, and company command teams together every week with our resident subject matter experts from G1, our surgeon and legal offices, and even support agencies from across JBLM. Units gather around a large conference table and review the status of each one of their non-deployable Soldiers, and develop plans to get them to a higher level of deployability.

The meeting invites collaboration and synchronization from all attendees. The ESC staff enablers actively participate by fielding questions about specific topics, exploring individual cases where a Soldier's readiness has stagnated, and disseminating information important to command teams' efforts to improve their unit's deployable status. Commanders and medical providers learned how important a direct dialogue between them is to any plan relating to a Soldier's deployability. Over the weeks, command teams have been able to share best practices and ideas on how best to support both the Soldier and the unit's readiness need.

Fourth, maximizing the capabilities of the medical community is essential to rapidly resolving or facilitating a Soldiers care when non-deployable. Soldiers have to keep medical appointments. Medical concerns are the leading cause of non-deployable Soldiers. Leaders must stress the importance of scheduling and keeping medical appointments, especially to Soldiers with multiple medical issues. Active engagement of leaders to overcome friction in the medical system reduces timelines for non-deployable Soldiers to readiness recovery or separation, if necessary.

Fifth, look for signs of danger. Prevention of injuries and other potentially non-deployable conditions should be on the front lines of any effort to maintain one's readiness. Factors found to affect future readiness are now tracked for every individual Soldier and are available for review by commanders -- Body Mass Index, number of days on temporary profile in the past, number of medical appointments, and Army Physical Fitness Test Scores are some of the significant factors found that help predict a Soldier's risk of becoming non-deployable, and can guide a commander to direct prevention resources to those in need.

The Army Wellness Center is a key resource for those seeking to improve their health, optimize fitness, and ultimately, readiness. Soldiers, their families, and leaders should leverage this free resource often to take advantage of the targeted expertise the professionals working in the Center can provide.

Sixth, embrace the family unit. Family members can support their Soldiers' readiness by encouraging them to take the proper time to recuperate, attend all scheduled doctor's appointments, and keep their chain of command informed of any issues that might affect their abilities to deploy, fight, sustain and win.

Families also need to understand the realities of a potential deployment, or lengthy absences of their Soldier, from the home. Family readiness is part of personnel readiness. The unit Family Readiness Group remains instrumental in training and mentoring Army families new and old.

As we continue to press our Army's top priority, we have validated these six best practices and recommend them to our partner units on JBLM and across the force. In the ESC, it is important to our mission, and we need every Soldier ready to Deploy, Fight, Sustain and Win!