By Kari HawkinsFebruary 11, 2019
(Editor's Note: This article is the last in a six-part series detailing the work of various Army Materiel Command staff sections through the Shape the Fight and Ready Army Civilian Initiatives.)
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Leveraging synergy and team work to provide the best support possible, the Army Materiel Command's Special Staff has realigned some of its functions as part of the Shape the Fight initiative.
The efficiencies and effectiveness gained by the realignments will ensure AMC's continued success in meeting Army readiness requirements, said Steven Harris, special projects officer for the AMC Chief of Staff.
"These are the employees who functionally support the commander and the commander's priorities," he said. "They are focused on providing support services that keep all of us connected, communicating and moving together in the right direction."
With such a vital role in ensuring the internal operations of AMC headquarters, changes made to the Special Staff affect the entire organization, he said. As the Special Staffs were reorganized as part of Shape the Fight, it was important to ensure synergy between the Special Staff sections.
"Shape the Fight is an initiative to make sure we have the right resources aligned with the right work, and a way for us to gain natural synergies by realigning functions," Harris said. "It's about making sure we are postured to execute the commander's intent based on our mission of providing materiel readiness solutions to build our globally dominant land force capability."
Before Shape the Fight, the Special Staff sections included Public and Congressional Affairs, Office of Executive Services, Commander's Initiatives Group, Small Business Office, Ombudsman, Historian, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, Equal Employment Opportunity, Inspector General, Secretary of the General Staff, Office of Diversity and Leadership, Commandant, Secretary of the General Staff, Command Surgeon, Internal Review and Audit, Analysis Group, Command Chaplain, Command Counsel, Office of Command Retention, and Contracting Support.
With Shape the Fight, realignments included merging the Office of Executive Services (including Protocol) and the Historian with Public and Congressional Affairs, merging the Ombudsman with the Commander's Initiatives Group, shifting the Commandant to G-4 Logistics, and moving Contracting Support to G-8 Resources.
"We wanted to create alignments that built on our strengths and that provided us with the kind of output needed to support the commander's requirements," Harris said.
"For example, merging Executive Services and the Historian Office with Public and Congressional Affairs allowed us to integrate employees responsible for our interfacing with external stakeholders with employees who understand the military etiquette of meetings and the history of previous meetings and those outcomes to enhance achieving expected outcomes from future meetings. These staff functions are all connected and there is a natural collaboration between these groups of employees that can help us to be better at what we do."
Likewise, merging the Ombudsman with the Commander's Initiative Group allows these employees to work together more efficiently in communicating with the defense industry.
"The interface we have to the private business sector is managed by the Ombudsman," Harris said. "What we communicate to businesses and how we communicate needs to be synchronized with the Commander's strategic messages developed by the Commander's Initiatives Group.
"Changes like this are meant to sharpen our strategic engagements; to develop a better understanding of our requirements, challenges and opportunities within the business community; and to better manage not only what we are doing now but what's coming over the horizon."
In choosing how to realign the Special Staff sections, Harris said consideration was given to not making sections so large that communication is hindered, to ensuring employees within sections are allowed to express their ideas and suggestions directly to their leaders, and to following legal requirements to keep specific sections - such as EEO, SHARP and IG - as stand-alone sections with a direct line to the commander.
As the new alignments solidify, other changes may need to be made to ensure efficiencies, he said.
"With the new environment created by Shape the Fight, each Special Staff will reshape to enhance and highlight their processes and to eliminate duplication of effort. They will be able to develop new efficiencies that will make us an even better organization," Harris said.
Although AMC's major subordinate commands are aware of changes within headquarter's Special Staff, they are not expected to mimic them within their own staffs.
"Our commander allows the commanders of the major subordinate commands to make their own Shape the Fight decisions based on their command's specific missions and needs," Harris said. "But they can use our lessons learned to help them shape their organization for their mission and to meet their needs. There's always room to enhance and improve effectiveness."
As Shape the Fight changes solidify, the Ready Army Civilian initiative provides a means to ensure employees are best equipped within the Special Staff to provide support required by the commander, Harris said.
"Our employees are professional and resilient, and we have been transparent with them about these changes so they understand how these changes will make us better," Harris said.
"Part of being a Ready Army Civilian is to be resilient, and to understand that missions and requirements evolve. Ready Army Civilians are adaptable, and always seeking to gain more knowledge and information to broaden their skills. They understand that as the vision changes and requirements change, so, too, do the alignments within an organization."
Harris said the holistic approach of Ready Army Civilian requires that employees take care of themselves, their co-workers and their peers in a team environment where everyone contributes to solutions and responds to requirements. Supervisors must provide employees with a climate where they can freely operate in support of the mission, and where they can grow and perform at their best, he said.
"Ready Army Civilian requires a trust between supervisors and employees, and between employees so that we are all able to adapt and respond professionally to changes, and so that we operate within a team concept," he said.
"As we continue to transform, there will be opportunities for employees to grow their skills and to become the force multipliers we need."