SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Seaport Contract Management Branch hosted a four-day "Enabling Deployment and Distribution Readiness -- Through Stevedoring and Related Terminal Services Contracts" training workshop here Aug. 20-23.

S&RTS contracts allow SDDC units to complete mission essential tasks through contracted stevedoring services for loading and discharging vessels, receiving and disposition of cargo on trucks, rail and convoys, stuffing and unstuffing containers, storage, warehousing, customs clearance and other seaport services.

According to Scott Matthews, Seaport Contract Management Branch chief, because the S&RTS program touches every SDDC brigade, battalion and detachment around the world, sharing best practices is critical. The workshop brought together brigade contract managers, battalion contracting officer representatives, ordering officers and key terminal operations leaders from all of SDDC's five active duty transportation brigades and the Deployment Support Command.

"It's imperative we synchronize program objectives and bring the collective port operations brain trust together on a regular basis," Matthews said. "Conducting and managing large-scale port operations is an SDDC core competency and we can't accomplish that mission essential task without our S&RTS contracts.

"The intent of the program is to level set the bubble with our stakeholders to ensure a common understanding of the command's S&RTS program," he said. "A common and shared understanding at echelon of the current state of the program is gained as well as where we will take the program in the future."

To achieve this, the program dedicates a large portion to training. Matthews said this ensures everyone operates under a shared understanding and common business rules -- key components to the overall success of the program. In turn, this directly supports auditability, prompt payment to contractors and accurate billing back to customers. Key focal areas of the workshop included contract development, operationalizing contract execution, contract lifecycle management, audit compliance and sharing best practices.

"The folks in the battalions are the heartbeat of our program. It's important for us to help connect the dots for our brigades and battalions," Matthews said. "We often focus on the 'how' and forget about the 'why.' The why should drive the how and that's how we scope the event."

For Monica Simoncini, 839th Transportation Battalion traffic management division chief, the training provided many advantages and the opportunity for in-person conversations with people doing the same mission around the world.

"This is important because you really touch what matters based on other people's mission," she said. "Each port is unique and the fact we can openly share thoughts and see faces provides a lot of value and very welcome discussions."