CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — The 1st Theater Sustainment Command held a leader professional development session, or LPD, on January 24, 2023.
The forum was conducted with sustainers and logisticians from several units currently serving in the U.S. Central Command area of operations including Soldiers from the 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, a U.S Army Reserve unit based out of Orlando, Florida.
Hosted by Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr., 1st TSC commanding general, the event also featured fellow leaders in the Army Sustainment community, including Maj. Gen. David Wilson, commanding general of Army Sustainment Command, based at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., Maj. Gen. Gavin Lawrence, commanding general of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, based out of Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and Brig. Gen Maria A. Juarez, commander of the 143d ESC and deputy commander of the 1st TSC.
The LPD reinforced how critical the joint logistics enterprise is to sustainment operations for U.S. Army Central in the United States Central Command’s area of operations.
Russell began the LPD by asking for individual leaders present to introduce themselves personally to the command teams present. He emphasized this effective communication technique by pointing out that, “If you don’t know them, they don’t know you.”
The First Team commanding general further highlighted the rarity of three two-star commands coming together, in the same place, at the same time, to provide professional development and to address questions and concerns in an unclassified environment.
Each subordinate command team followed suit, introducing themselves in the very beginning before going into an open discussion.
All three generals then provided insight on topics including the structure of the sustainment formation in the CENTCOM AOR. They addressed the role of U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard forces. Lawrence shared the concept of a ‘team of teams’ and the importance of total force integration to the overall success of operations.
Juarez noted the importance of energy and synchronization, adding that supporting troops in contact remains our number one priority.
Wilson focused his time on talent management, recruiting, and retention. He addressed the concern as a ‘war for talent,’ the ongoing competition with civilian companies and how the COVID environment enticed many who may be thinking of serving into the luxury of having a remote job and not being pulled away from families.
Being an Army Reserve Soldier herself, Juarez shared the often-difficult dynamics of Reserve Soldiers as they attempt to balance their civilian careers, on top of Reserve duties, with their personal responsibilities and families.
“These Soldiers take a year from their civilian employment, a sacrifice that is unique to [Reserve and National Guard] Soldiers,” she added.
Russell then mentioned opportunities that exist within the Army’s Female Mentoring and Morale Program, whose stated mission is to “provide professional support to our female military and DA Civilian populations, encouraging them to pursue extended careers in the Army.” He further encouraged leaders to investigate it and have all Soldiers of both genders take part in the program.
All three leaders touched on the improvement in transition support, not just into the civilian sector but the importance in having discussions with Soldiers to consider serving in the Reserve or Guard following active duty.
Russell homed in on the importance of building and maintaining trust between leaders and Soldiers. He reinforced his point by sharing a personal story from a town hall he had attended in the past when he asked a Soldier why he continues to serve. The Soldier responded rather matter-of-factly that no one had given him a reason to stop serving. Here, Russell emphasized that leaders are continuously watched and how they too are a factor to the retention of Soldiers.
Finally, all the senior speakers shared the importance on how sustainment fits in the joint mission and how leaders need to begin thinking of how we [Army] can work with the other components, including the U.S Air Force and the U.S. Navy, to fill any capabilities gaps that are discovered.
The three leaders top enlisted advisors, including Command Sgt. Maj. Albert E. Richardson Jr., 1st TSC, Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge C. Escobedo, ASC, and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian J. Morrison, SDDC, along with Command Sgt. Maj. Ricardo M. Saunders, 143rd ESC, also interacted and shared information, and experience with the assembled group.