Regional operations directorates adapt to changes amid USASAC reorganization

By Sarah ZalerApril 23, 2024

Regional operations directorates adapt to changes amid USASAC reorganization
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC) personnel discuss upcoming changes to the organization during a training session March 20, 2024, in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. USASAC's reorganization aims to create efficiencies, balance the workload across the command and focus on its core mission of supporting allies and partners. (U.S. Army photo by Kim Capehart) (Photo Credit: Kimberley Capehart) VIEW ORIGINAL
Regional operations directorates adapt to changes amid USASAC reorganization
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Koren Scates, U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC) division chief, illustrates possible changes to the regional operations directorates structure during a reorganization workshop at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Jan. 9-11, 2024. USASAC's reorganization aims to create efficiencies, balance the workload across the command and focus on its core mission of supporting allies and partners. (U.S. Army photo by Kim Capehart) (Photo Credit: Kimberley Capehart) VIEW ORIGINAL

NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. — After ending fiscal year 2023 with a record $35.8 billion in foreign military sales (FMS), business is clearly not slowing down for the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC). To evolve with the current FMS caseload and international security environment, USASAC recognized an organizational change was not only needed, but long overdue.

A workforce study, followed by command-wide working groups, identified several areas of the organization where functions and processes could be realigned to create efficiencies, balance the workload across the command and focus on its core mission of supporting allies and partners.

One of the main areas where change was needed was the Regional Operations Directorates (RO), which develop and execute FMS cases to provide Army materiel to foreign partners. The ROs are divided into regions that align with U.S. geographic combatant commands and consist of CENTCOM, EUCOM/AFRICOM and INDOPACOM/SOUTHCOM/NORTHCOM.

Before the restructuring officially took effect April 1, 2024, USASAC RO personnel were organized based on segments of the process. Case development was handled at the Redstone Arsenal (RSA), Alabama, headquarters while case execution took place in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. Now, each RO is organized based on teams who are focused on specific countries, and the teams will be more cross-functional to cover both development and execution.

“It’s definitely a change, but it’s also a change that is very partner focused, and that’s who our business is,” said Dr. Myra Gray, USASAC deputy to the commanding general. “Our business is not just running a process and filling out paperwork and doing our little piece. Our business is a relationship with our partners. This helps our teams be more capable and ready for whatever comes up — whatever surge comes up — to be able to address it.”

To aid in the cross-functionality of the teams, new branch chief positions have been added to every division.

“Previously, in our development side, we only had division chiefs and they were spread all over the place,” said Gray. “They had to know everything about every country in their division, and it was quite a lot, and they didn’t have time to go deep. There was no layer of branch chiefs to help carry portions of that load.”

In the new structure, each branch chief will now be focused on their specific set of partner nations, and within the branches, the nations will be further subdivided amongst the teams. This setup will improve communication and information flow as the process moves from development to execution, resulting in greater support and responsiveness to the partners.

“The idea is so everything about the partner can be addressed by an entire team, and the focus of the team is on the partner, not just a piece of the process,” said Gray.

CENTCOM division chief Koren Scates, who has worked case execution for 16 years and managed the whole portfolio of middle eastern countries, will now manage a much smaller group of countries but must learn functions of case development as well. She realizes it’s a big change for everyone and that it will take time to adjust.

“It’s really fresh, so people are getting acclimated to new supervision and different types of oversight,” said Scates. “So, it’s a little rocky at the beginning, just making sure your team is all on the same page. But I do think the benefits will be cohesiveness. You’re going to have a better team dynamic than before.”

The changes and additional branch chief positions also offer more career development and promotion opportunities for RO personnel, and could potentially lead to location-independent positions, meaning the job can be performed either in RSA or New Cumberland.

“We want our employees to have growth, to be able to learn all aspects of the security assistance process and not just be pigeon-holed into doing one thing,” said Gray. “So, this is actually helpful for them because it helps them learn and grow and take on more responsibilities. Not everybody is going to know how to do everything up front — there will be a learning process as we develop people — but there are opportunities.”

Despite the inherent growing pains that come with organizational change, Scates acknowledged the change was a long time coming.

“We’ve operated the same way for decades and that’s not normal in any typical business,” said Scates. “Any business would’ve changed their model within this timeframe because you evolve, things change, your optics change, and change is necessary.”

The command-wide changes were not made hastily, and working groups explored several options for what a reorganization should look like. Scates was part of those discussions, where they examined every aspect of case management to see what functions could be centralized or shifted to different staff sections.

“We really did look at the entire command to see how we’re functioning currently and how there could be efficiencies met — which was the consolidation of several functions,” said Scates. “The former G9 was stood down, the former G4 is a little bit different structure now, and those functions were consolidated drastically.”

Some functions, like supply discrepancy reports and case closure, were determined to be a unique part of the process that should be pulled from the RO responsibilities.

“That is now something we are going to do - a pilot of centralization of those two functions,” said Scates. “There’s a team now, the Security Assistance Support Directorate, that took over those two functions. So, now the CCM (country case management) team doesn’t have to do that anymore, which could lighten up their workload a little bit and take some of the pressure off them because those are two pretty big processes.”

This shifting and consolidation of functions created several vacancies across the command, which allowed for the new branch chief positions in the ROs. Scates is hopeful the changes will streamline the process and improve work-life balance for RO personnel. She also said she appreciates the transparency of the command team for their commitment to continually reassess and evaluate the effectiveness of the reorganization, and make changes as necessary.

“This time next year we will probably need to make some adjustments, but we were long overdue for a fundamental look at how we do business and build ourselves that way from the ground up,” said Gray.

Acknowledging the challenges that come with a change of this magnitude, Gray hopes USASAC teammates will embrace the challenge.

“Change is hard, especially for folks who have been doing the same thing, but I would ask that everybody give this a chance because it’s not going to be without its hiccups. There’s going to be a learning curve for everybody but give it a chance because the future is very bright, and this is going to help us to evolve into becoming the very best we can be in today’s environment with today’s technology.”