Senior active duty, Reserve and National Guard commanders and logisticians gathered for a Task Force Reserve Component Summit hosted by the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) at Scott AFB, Ill. Jan 17.

"Our purpose for the summit is to discuss the issues we'll face when deploying the Reserve component in support of contingency plans," said Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, SDDC commanding general.

Senior leaders from SDDC, Army Materiel Command, U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, First Army, U.S. Army Reserve Command, the National Guard Bureau, and SDDC's Reserve element, the Deployment Support Command, discussed ways to integrate and synchronize action plans and laid out their respective responsibilities and challenges when deploying forces during contingency operations.

"Bringing together our team of teams to synchronize efforts will undoubtedly improve the readiness of our Total Force and enable us to effectively deploy our reservists and guardsmen at the speed of war to meet our nation's objectives," said Farmen.

The group discussed capabilities, capacities, challenges and a way ahead for SDDC, who as the surface movement coordinator, is responsible for the preparation, coordination, and movement of forces and equipment.

"SDDC ensures units arrive at the port at the right time, in the right configuration, with the right documentation -- ready to load," said Col. Paul D. Dismer, SDDC director of Strategy, Plans, Programs and Policy.

Navy Capt. John Duenas, SDDC director of Operations, illustrated the challenges faced by SDDC as it coordinates and tracks the movement of geographically separated National Guard and Reserve forces and equipment that are located across multiple states as a single unit to the point of embarkation or to exercise training sites.

The team also discussed a new product that will improve the planning effectiveness of surface movements -- the surface tasking order. While the process is still in the development stage and expected to go live later this year, the STO will allow SDDC to efficiently and effectively plan, organize and direct surface operations through centralized planning. It is similar to the Air Force's Air Tasking Order and will provide units with details of surface missions up to 96 hours out.

"Right now our process is analog in a sense. We're trying to make the process a little more high-tech," said Farmen. "We're really excited about this. It's a real game changer."

The group plans to meet again both virtually and in person in the near future to discuss the progress of the action items identified during the summit.

Farmen ended the summit by thanking all of the participants for their dedication to improving the way the Army deploys its Reserve forces.

"It's going to take a lot of teamwork to work through this wicked problem," said Farmen. "We emerged from the summit with an integrated action plan to carry momentum forward throughout the year and to solve this challenge together."