JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. Nov. 19, 2020 —Strategic readiness is the Army’s capability to rapidly mobilize and deploy forces anywhere in the world and sustain the joint force. How do they accomplish that? By hiring and retaining a talented and dedicated workforce.
Our new Employee Spotlight Series will focus on two individuals a week to increase engagement and connection while we are teleworking. Our first spotlight is about the very talented Vicki Spencer, Ocean Cargo Clearance Authorities (OCCA) Chief at the 597th Transportation Brigade.
As OCCA chief, Spencer is the subject matter expert on the booking process and provides guidance, direction, synchronization and full-spectrum operational support toward worldwide DOD cargo movements.
Her team provides booking and quality assurance functions to large government agencies, such as the Defense Commissary Agency, Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).
In addition to helping bring holiday cheer to the troops deployed overseas, the OCCA team also handles booking for deploying units who need to move their arsenals of tanks, planes and other cargo overseas on humanitarian missions or in support of combatant commander executed contingencies.
Spencer started her military transportation career at the Household Goods Office in Fort Knox, Kentucky and has worked at the 597th Transportation brigade for 30 years. She has learned some valuable skills along the way.
“Transportation is not as easy as people think,” Spencer said, “Whether it is a technical issue or a carrier performance issue, we are always constantly adapting,” Spencer added.
Mobilizing a globally engaged Army requires strong problem solving skills and patience to decipher what the customer needs, according to Spencer.
Spencer leads a team of twelve people that support Army readiness by making sure that the deployment equipment arrives to the right port.
There are nine ordering officers that work with the deploying units and sustainment units to book the cargo, and three contract officer representatives who work with commercial contract carriers to ensure that the terms and conditions of the governmental contacts are met.
One of the keys to success on her team is a positive attitude and strong communication skills. Her team deals with a high call volume and strong, mission-driven personalities on a daily basis.
“They also have to be a multitasker because we use many different computer programs to book the cargo, process invoices or research rates and handle our contracts with our commercial shipping industry partners.”
As the Army continues to deliver capability to soldiers faster and more effectively, Spencer said that attention to detail is mission critical.
“Checks and balances helps prevent wrong movements from happening,” Spencer said. “If an Ordering Office or a customer makes an error in selecting the wrong destination code, there can be bad consequences like going to the wrong place.”
Spencer had been planning to retire when the pandemic hit, but she has put those plans on hold for now to help keep the pipeline of supplies moving.
The OCCA team works hard year around and hasn’t slowed down since the pandemic started. Spencer said that business ramps up at the end of the year during the holiday season.
Customers can book cargo 45 days out and learn more about booking military cargo by contacting the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command online at www.sddc.army.mil.
The 597th Transportation Brigade is a part of the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, responsible for integrating and synchronizing surface deployment and distribution capabilities in the Continental U.S, deploying and sustaining the Armed Forces off the East and Gulf coasts in support of global operations and U.S. Southern Command.