By Paul Levesque, ASC Public Affairs
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - The Army's top leaders have proclaimed people as their top priority, and the care of people took center stage during Gen. Gus Perna's quarterly visit to the U.S. Army Sustainment Command, headquartered here.
Perna, who serves as commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, ASC's higher headquarters, began his Feb. 19 visit by presenting commander's coins to four ASC team members for their contributions to the command's mission.
Receiving the coins from Perna were Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Hamilton, for his actions during the activation of the ASC Crisis Action Team; Amy Duwa, for her work in implementing personnel actions during the "Shape to Fight" initiative; John Schafer, for his efforts in support of quality of life initiatives at Fort Wainwright, Alaska; and Todd Davis, for his role in analyzing information from a variety of sources during the recent build-up in the Central Command area of operations.
"It's my privilege to recognize a job well done by all of you," Perna said, "and by all members of the ASC team."
Perna was then given a briefing on current ASC operations that began with an update on ASC's personnel development initiatives, including the Journey to Leadership program. Hayleigh Perez, a military spouse and recent JTL graduate, told Perna how she benefited from the program and how it set her on her current career path.
Perna then invited Perez forward to receive a handshake and led everyone in the briefing room in a round of applause.
The briefing wrapped up with a discussion of plans to improve the permanent change of process and the movement of household goods, a mission now managed by ASC for the Army.
The process improvements discussed during the briefing included hiring more household goods quality assurance inspectors, and filling some of those jobs with military spouses. ASC has also set a goal of providing one-on-one counseling to all PSCing Soldiers and families prior to their moves. In addition, a standard training package has been created for all ASC employees involved in the movement of household goods.
To demonstrate command emphasis, Maj. Gen. Steven Shapiro, commanding general of ASC, will lead a town hall for all household goods employees, who number about 600 throughout the global command. The town hall, tentatively scheduled for early March, will provide an opportunity to share information and raise and resolve issues.
"It's important that you take action in this area, because we need to get it fixed," Perna said. "Our first priority should not be enforcement of (household goods) contracts, but rather the satisfaction of the Soldiers and families receiving the household goods, and assuring them a smooth transition when they PCS.
"This is a big deal to the (Army) chief of staff (Gen. James McConville)," Perna said. "He's made people the priority, because he knows we need to keep good people in the Army and encourage them to reenlist. He also believes that, if we get it right in quality of life, that in turn will free up dollars for readiness and modernization."
Other topics discussed during the briefing included the use of the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program during upcoming exercises in Europe; the modification of maintenance cycles for Army Prepositioned Stocks; the movement of weapons and materiel into areas of operation; and the divestment and redistribution of excess equipment.
Most of ASC's hands-on work is carried out by contractors, and Perna urged command leaders to look at the merits of employing category management - which places similar functions under a single contract - versus parceling functions out over multiple contracts, in order to reduce management overhead and improve unity of effort.
"In either case, we need to hold our contractors accountable and ask questions when they say they can't do things," Perna said.
"We need to think differently and take an operational approach," he said. "It's about the effects delivered by our contracts, and our commanders should be responsible for assuring those effects are delivered."
Perna praised ASC's efforts to reform the execution of its mission, adding that reform must be an ongoing process.
"I don't know the best way to do this," he said. "I leave it to you to figure it out, and how we get there is up to you."
Perna remarked that he prides himself on AMC being ready to support the Army under any circumstances.
"If war were to break out tomorrow," he said, "we need to know the best way to carry out our mission."