FORT LEE, Va. -- More than 75 sergeants major representing military commands around the world recently assembled at Fort Lee for the Army G-4 Sustainment Senior Enlisted Leader Development Symposium.
Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee, Deputy Chief of Staff G-4, opened the event held in the Army Logistics University's multipurpose classrooms. In presentations that followed, sergeants major from each command, including the Army Reserve and National Guard, talked about their areas of operation and the logistical successes and challenges they've experienced.
"These conversations are vital to what we do as the executors of the commander's intent," noted Army G-4 Sgt. Maj. Edward Bell. "The Army Chief of Staff's number one priority is readiness. The centerpiece of readiness is leaders, and we better enable them by bringing them together in a professional development forum so we can have a discussion about ways to integrate, synchronize, and collaborate."
Logistics is one of the most important commodities of warfighting, Bell observed. Synchronization is key to making it work effectively. Knowing what's going on in the proverbial "other foxhole" is extremely beneficial when it comes to battle planning as well as resourcing and training the force.
"We've got all three Army components here to have this conversation, which is important because we don't do home games, we always do away games," Bell said. "Seventy-eight percent of the Army's sustainment enablers are in the Reserve and National Guard. That's something to think about if you're the one preparing your organizations for rapid deployment and large-scale combat operations."
Bell referred to the presentation by the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) Command Sergeant Major as one of the positive outcomes of the session.
The end-state message was "teammates, if you are working on pre-deployment or coming to my area of operation, here's some things you need to consider. Here's how you can enable success in USAREUR." The same thing could be applied to any of the other briefers. They promoted understanding of their operations and offered tips that will help fellow attendees be enablers for their commanders.
In opening remarks on day two of the symposium, Command Sergeant Major Rodger Mansker of the Army Materiel Command reminded attendees of the Army's expectation of them to be "masters of their craft."
"I think it's a reminder that the centerpiece of our Army's success is people," Bell reflected.
"We've got to understand how to influence those individuals. We have to earn and keep their confidence and grow their skill sets. At the end of the day, we need to remember that it's the Soldier who is carrying the load of success for our nation.
"Second," Bell continued, "is to know what your skill set is. What is the commodity that you manage? You have to understand how it integrates with other commodities within your section and team. This applies whether you're a G-4 sergeant major or a command sergeant major at a sustainment center or brigade.
"Third is commander's intent, which I keep going back to because it's so important," he said. "Our job as sergeants major is to be an extension of the commander's voice and a representative of the command structure. We are advisors. We are senior enlisted leaders. We are master trainers, and we have to invest in people to get the job done. If we go back to our organizations and make even one Soldier better with this knowledge, then it was well worth coming here for this conference."
Another benefit Bell pointed out is the typical upside of any conference -- networking and building closer relationships. "These individuals leave here with more points of contact and a greater understanding of who owns what commodities and who they can to achieve their commander's intent. It has strengthened the network of Army Sustainers."
Offering kudos to CASCOM and Fort Lee for hosting the symposium, Bell said there's no other place he could imagine to gather logisticians and conduct training.
"The pipeline of success for our sustainers and logisticians starts at the Sustainment Center of Excellence," he concluded. "There is no better place to talk about readiness, doctrine, and training -- and operationalizing all that to enable the warfighter -- than right here at place where it all begins."