By Keith DesboisJuly 2, 2010
RICHMOND, VA (July 1, 2010) - "Resetting for the future - people, materiel and technology" was the theme of the 2010 Sustainment Commanders' Conference June 21-22 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
Hundreds of senior officers, warrants and noncommissioned officers attended this annual meeting of the minds that drive the sustainment community. They converged to discuss strategies to help make sustaining the force a smoother, more cost effective and customer friendly environment.
This year's symposium included a couple of firsts - a combined chief warrant officers' conference and a sergeants' major forum (see separate article "Senior Sergeants Discuss Sustainment Future" on page 25).
The warrants discussed a variety of topics to include the need for recruiting high quality enlisted Soldiers to sustain their ranks and the challenges that lie ahead for the Warrant Officer Corps. The exchange of ideas was extremely valuable, according to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Wichterman, CASCOM chief of staff for the Command Planning Group, and the combined conference saved time and money.
"In the past, there were Quartermaster, Ordnance and Transportation conferences and the same guest speakers were invited to all three," he said. "We wanted to bring all three branches together and pass the information once, so everybody got the same information."
The sergeants' major forum concentrated on gathering feedback and sharing information about current and future operations in order to continue to grow and develop a professional force capable of accomplishing any mission.
"I felt it was important for the senior NCOs to meet, build relationships and share information to help shape the future," said Command Sgt. Maj. C.C. Jenkins Jr., Combined Arms Support Command, Sustainment Center of Excellence command sergeant major. "Training has to be relevant, rigorous and robust."
Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers, the first CASCOM-SCoE commander, kicked off the Sustainment Commanders' Conference with an overview of the expansion of Fort Lee and new technologies that will help the sustainment community going into the future.
"This is the first time in decades Fort Lee has 'firepower,'" Chambers said in regards to the M1A2 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles being shipped to the Ordnance Campus. The armored equipment will be used to train Soldiers at the new state-of-the-art maintenance facility there.
With the consolidation of the Quartermaster, Ordnance and Transportation schools at Fort Lee, the post will become a true joint training environment as Navy and Air Force students join the Marines and Soldiers currently here, Chambers noted.
"It's overwhelming when you think about the investment the Department of Defense has made in the sustainment community," Chambers said, referring not only to the actions related to the Base Realignment and Closure decision, but also to the establishment of the Sustainment Center of Excellence.
Other presentations included updates on sustainment proponency, senior leader advancement and assignments, the evolution of sustainment forces and an overview of recent command post exercises that tested interoperability, communication and other force support functions.
The symposium preceded the annual Association of the U.S. Army Sustainment Symposium and Exposition also held at the convention center.