SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - Gen. Gus Perna, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, visited the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command headquarters Feb. 20 for his quarterly update from SDDC leaders.
Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, SDDC commanding general, began the update by reviewing SDDC's accomplishments since Perna's last visit, including the initiation of operations in support of the DEFENDER-Europe 20 exercise and the redesign of the command's surface operations center. He also highlighted the recent arrival of two new members of his command team, Michael Hutchison, Deputy to the Commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rocky Carr, SDDC's Senior Enlisted Leader.
Farmen then led into his briefing agenda, which included three main topics - strategic readiness and power projection, cyber mission assurance and the strategic advantage provided by SDDC's Surface Warrior workforce.
He explained how SDDC is optimizing strategic readiness through innovative concepts that are improving the command's efficiency in projecting the force, such as the Surface Tasking Order and validation of unit deployment lists 60 days prior to their available to load date.
The recently developed STO is a user-friendly, automated planning and coordination tool that improves the efficiency of planning and coordination for the surface movement of joint military equipment and cargo. Currently in use, it provides unit movement officers and operations centers at all levels and across all services with the same mission-planning and execution sight picture, with relevant details for all SDDC strategic surface movements.
SDDC is also working to standardize requirements for deploying units to complete the validation of unit deployment lists at least 60 days prior to their scheduled vessel loading dates. Doing so by ALD-60 provides SDDC's operational planners sufficient time to effectively coordinate and plan units' surface movements while also allowing appropriate time to complete required contracting actions.
"What SDDC is doing is critical to our ability to project the force," said Perna. "This is right in line with the [Army Chief of Staff's] intent."
Farmen's second update topic covered SDDC's digital modernization and cyber mission assurance.
"SDDC has moved to the Cloud," said Farmen, highlighting the command's successful migration of 100 percent of its surface transportation business systems into the Cloud.
U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Baldus, SDDC's G6 director and chief information officer, explained that SDDC will now focus on a Cloud-native approach, integrating Cloud-centric capabilities and aligning with the Army's Data Strategy and, over the next 18 months, will build automated resiliency through the Cloud by integrating key web services and moving to a platform-agnostic approach.
Baldus also noted that the command's participation in cyber-focused assessments and operational training exercises such as JACK VOLTAIC 3.0 allows SDDC to examine and analyze the impact of a cyber-attack against critical force projection infrastructure including roads, rail and strategic seaports and exercise its cyber incident response plan.
"Everything you're doing in this area is helping SDDC become more innovative and adaptive," said Perna.
The final update topic focused on the Surface Warriors who make up SDDC's workforce and how their expertise and capabilities provide the command with a strategic advantage.
"People are SDDC's strategic advantage, and their training and development is essential to achieving our mission success," said Farmen.
Clay Carter, SDDC's director of Personnel and Logistics, outlined the command's multi-layered approach to human capital development by introducing the formation of a new SDDC Human Capital Board and Council that will take a strategic approach to institutionalizing an enduring human capital planning process that builds and sustains a high-quality, engaged and purpose-driven workforce.
According to Farmen, the plan is "tied to the Army's People Strategy, nested within the Army's Human Capital Plan and is designed to produce and maintain a professional, ready and diverse workforce."
Following the briefing, Farmen led Perna on a tour of SDDC's recently redesigned Surface Operations Center. While there, members of the Operations team used the STO to provide Perna with a detailed, visual overview of SDDC's current strategic movements in support of the DEFENDER-Europe 20 exercise.
During his visit, Perna also recognized four Surface Warriors from the headquarters staff for their outstanding work in support of SDDC's mission. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel White and Scotty Wadyko from the G3 Operations Directorate, Zachary Middendorf from the G6 Communications Directorate, and Matt Mulchek from the SDDC's Transportation Engineering Agency each received AMC commanding general coins.
"Great update," noted Perna prior to departing, "All of the great work SDDC is accomplishing is definitely improving our ability to project the force."