By Mr. Frederick RiceNovember 7, 2019
Surface Warrior leaders from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command met with Gen. Gus Perna, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, at their headquarters on Scott Air Force Base, IL 6 Nov to present the command's quarterly update.
Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, SDDC commanding general, began the update by reviewing SDDC's accomplishments since Perna's last visit, while highlighting how SDDC's priorities are nested within and support AMC's priorities.
Farmen and his senior staff then focused on presenting Perna with overviews of innovative programs Surface Warriors are currently working on to improve the command's ability to move, deploy and sustain the Joint force at speed. Specific updates included Talent Management Readiness, Port Diversification, the Surface Tasking Order, and the Weigh-in-Motion System, among other topics.
Clay Carter, SDDC's acting deputy to the commander, provided an overview of the command's efforts in support of Talent Management Readiness, providing details about the many programs and systems the command uses to acquire, develop, employ and retain talented employees, and how SDDC is in-step with the Army's four "People" strategic lines of effort.
Noting the importance of the command's Surface Warrior workforce, Farmen emphasized that "People are SDDC's strategic advantage."
Strategic seaports are vital nodes in the nation's transportation network and play a critical role in the DOD's ability to deploy forces and equipment globally. But like any other system, their capabilities will decrease if they remain unused. By diversifying the ports used to deploy units, SDDC keeps that breakdown that from occurring.
"We need to continually exercise our strategic ports," said SDDC deputy commander Col. Lillard Evans, "otherwise their capabilities, and our ability to sustain readiness will atrophy."
By keeping the aperture open at our less-frequently used ports, Evans explained, the command is able to identify and understand port-specific requirements, gain experience for future missions and develop relationships with the ports and the commercial partners that operate there.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Johnathen Simbeck, Operations Directorate mobility warrant officer, presented Perna with a detailed demonstration of SDDC's new end-to-end visibility tool called the Surface Tasking Order. The STO uses sourced data from multiple systems of record to control, allocate and synchronize the strategic surface lift portion of the Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise and provides units and unit transportation planners with ground and surface transportation scheduling timelines.
The STO was successfully tested at the headquarters-level during the deployment of the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team out of Jacksonville, FL in October.
According to Farmen, the STO currently supports brigade combat team-level moves from CONUS to OCONUS, but will undergo continuous upgrades, similar to how cell phones like the iPhone release new versions as improvements and updates are incorporated.
The new Weigh-in-Motion System is a portable scale system that supports deployment operations at Army Power Projection Platforms and Mobilization Force Generating Installations. It uses a combination of scales, a laser measuring system and associated software to quickly and accurately gather weights and dimensional data of unit equipment in real time.
Similar to the STO, Farmen explained, WiMS was also tested successfully during the 2/1 Cavalry Division deployment and was key to the measurement of nearly 1,700 pieces of rolling stock for the ABCT in under 14 days. The average time to measure a truck with trailer was 30 seconds using WiMS. Although additional time is still required to manually load the information into the system, as upgrades are made to the system, data entry will become automated, further increasing efficiency.
Farmen said "WiMS is going to be a game-changer" for the deployment enterprise and SDDC's ability to rapidly project combat power.
During his visit, Perna also took time to recognize three Surface Warriors from the headquarters staff for their exceptional accomplishments in support of SDDC's mission. Lance Mabee from the G6 Communications Directorate, Bradley McDonald from the G3 Operations Directorate and Towanda Wright from the G1/4 Personnel and Logistics Directorate were each presented with AMC commanding general coins.
Closing out the quarterly update, Perna said he was proud of what SDDC is doing to support the warfighter. "You certainly have the Chief's (Army Chief of Staff) intent and my intent. Well done by the entire team," he said.
"SDDC has always done good work," Perna told Farmen and his team, "but now you're doing great work."