By Fred RiceSeptember 10, 2019
Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command commanding general, hosted the semi-annual SDDC Senior Leader Forum at the headquarters of his U.S. Army Reserve force, the Deployment Support Command, in Birmingham, Alabama, Aug. 23-25.
Commanders and senior enlisted leaders from all nine of SDDC's Total Force Transportation Brigades, as well as key members of the SDDC headquarters staff, participated in the event.
According to Farmen, his intent for the forum was to provide command guidance, set priorities, promote open discussion, and facilitate collective training and team-building that results in a shared understanding of SDDC's common purpose to move, deploy and sustain the Armed Forces to deliver readiness and lethality at speed.
"I can't think of a better venue to hold this forum than here at the DSC headquarters," said Farmen in his opening comments.
U.S. Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Martin Klein, DSC commanding general and also SDDC's deputy commanding general for operations, concurred with Farmen's decision to conduct the forum at DSC headquarters.
"Being here serves as a reminder of the indispensable role the DSC plays and acknowledges the diversity that is brought by the Army Reserve in enhancing the overall enterprise," said Klein. "We are a team of teams, rowing together toward a common purpose."
The forum's theme was "Achieving S.P.E.E.D." -- referring to the acronym Farmen uses to explain how the command operates:
S - Strategic in execution
P - Projecting power
E - Enabling warfighting readiness
E - Experts in intermodal operations
D - Dynamic Force Employment
"Achieving speed has a lot of layers in it. It's not so much about going fast, it is how we go fast. Speed matters in the world we live in today. If we get it all right, we'll move at the speed of relevance -- and the people that make that happen are our Surface Warriors," said Farmen.
Each of the forum's three days was further highlighted by a specific sub-theme, with the first day focused on organizing for combat, the second on the business aspect of the command, and the final day serving as an opportunity to bring everything together under the sub-theme "empowering a common purpose."
Prior to the start of the forum, Farmen met separately with his staff and active duty command teams to focus on two organizational topics -- "Set the Globe" and "Shape the Fight."
"Set the Globe is all about ensuring the command has the right forces at the right locations to conduct our mission and support potential combat operations," explained Charlie Westgate, SDDC personnel and logistics acting director. "Shape the Fight focuses more on determining the right numbers and types of people to accomplish the mission and ensuring they are organized appropriately."
During his closing remarks, Farmen said he was pleased with the work accomplished during the forum.
"It's been a phenomenal opportunity to have our whole team of leaders here together. The success of this organization doesn't just happen, it's because of the people in this room. If we accomplish anything, it'll be because we did it together. Communicate what you learned here to your subordinates and let's get unified behind our purpose," he said.
Many of the participants also agreed the time invested in the forum was worthwhile.
U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Baldus, SDDC chief information officer, highlighted the importance of getting the staff and command teams together. "Building relationships and meeting people face-to-face helps break down barriers and improve communication. A five-minute conversation can eliminate a week's worth of emails," he said.
U.S. Army Reserve Col. Mark McCullough, DSC's 1189th Transportation Brigade commander, said, "It was tremendously worthwhile to integrate with the staff and leaders in the organization. I always get energized by the general's message. It is also amazing to meet new teammates and to share ideas and experiences."