By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneJuly 2, 2010
REDSTONE ARSENAL-- Col. Robert "Pat" Sullivan prefers looking at things from a service-oriented point of view.
So, when asked what he expects from the more than 600 military, civilian and contractor employees working for the Logistics Support Activity, the organization's new commander changed the question around and asked "What should they expect from me'"
In his view, the answer to both questions is the same.
Offering the best effort each and every day. Caring for subordinates. Serving as a role model. Committing to the job and making it happen. Keeping open lines of communication. Recognizing excellence. For Sullivan, it's these goals that define an organization's leader and its employees.
"There is no room for apathy. Disagreements and agreements are fine. More than anything you have to care about what you are doing and how it is affecting the Soldier," Sullivan said.
"I think every employee should seek to offer their very best. And that's what they should seek from me. We are teammates working toward a common goal and mission. We must do what the Army Materiel Command and what the Army needs us to do. We have a certain skill set and capability, and we should collectively care about the mission and each other, and use our skills and capabilities to achieve the mission."
Sullivan assumed command of LOGSA on June 21 in a ceremony led by AMC deputy commander Lt. Gen. Jim Pillsbury in Bob Jones Auditorium. He assumed command from Geoffrey Embrey, who has been acting director since February when Col. James Rentz retired. Sullivan was accompanied by his wife, Suzanne, and two sons, Robert, who is attending college this fall on an ROTC scholarship; and Cameron, 13.
"Col. Sullivan is a great, dedicated, wonderful colonel who has served as a battle commander for the 82nd Airborne Division," Pillsbury said. "He has done the right thing for Soldiers at all the right places at all the right times. He is going to bring an operational mentality to LOGSA."
Pillsbury said LOGSA is "absolutely necessary for the Army" and "a jewel" of the Army. LOGSA's mission is to serve as the Army's source for logistics data, providing logistics intelligence, life cycle support and technical advice and assistance to the current and future force; and integrating logistics information (force structure, readiness and other logistics data) for worldwide equipment readiness, distribution analysis, and asset visibility for timely and proactive decision making.
During an interview prior to the ceremony, Sullivan said LOGSA was the organization he aspired to following his association with LOGSA while serving as commander of the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade in Operation Iraqi Freedom and then as special assistant to the commander of the Army Materiel Command in the area of strategic communications.
"I really was exposed to what the entire AMC organization had to provide and the organization that provided me more support than any other was LOGSA," Sullivan said of his OIF command.
"LOGSA is a brain trust of logistics knowledge. It represents the best of the Army in logistics processing and data management. The way it responds to needs and provides the tools, instruments and processes is just incredible. So I wanted to come here and I made it known. I didn't know if it was the best for the Army, but I liked the idea of coming to LOGSA. It is an organization that works at the highest level strategically and the lowest level tactically."
But before his career brought Sullivan to LOGSA, he served as a senior service college fellow at Columbia University. He has also served in five deployments and in numerous command positions, many with the 82nd Airborne Division, during his 24-year Army career.
Sullivan was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation from Eastern Kentucky University in 1985. His college career included simultaneous service in the Army Reserve and the university's ROTC program.
"At the time, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I had been a Boy Scout, an Eagle Scout actually. So that Army thing looked really interesting. My fraternity brothers were also in ROTC. I saw it as a good way to make money and stay out of trouble," Sullivan recalled.
"But then I realized I really liked what I was doing in ROTC. Everything was fun. It was a great experience."
Although he hoped for an Army career as a combat arms officer, the Army had other plans. He commissioned in the Quartermaster Corps, and was assigned for 18 months to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"It was there that I really found my place. I had a few good role models," he said. Those role models included now Gen. Ann Dunwoody and retired Maj. Gen. Carl Freeman, both Quartermaster Corps officers.
"I loved the adventure, the challenge, the well-developed and great role models. I found out I really enjoyed providing support to those who require it, for Soldiers on the front line each and every day."
The first platoon Sullivan commanded was in charge of providing parachute rigging. It involved 120 Soldiers producing more than 600 parachutes per day in support of an entire division - 16,000 paratroopers - of the 82nd. It took 25 minutes to pack each parachute.
"It was a growing experience. It was a tremendous responsibility to provide life saving devices and life saving equipment to our Soldiers," he said. "From there, my career continued in a progression of jobs. The Army is good at progressing responsibilities and careers in a manner that is aligned to a Soldier's own personal growth."
During Operation Desert Storm/Shield, Sullivan supported the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne as commander of C Company, 407th Supply and Transport Battalion. Between 2001 and 2006, he served in the 82nd in various assignments, including chief of the Division Materiel Management Center, senior staff logistics officer and deputy commander of the division's Support Command.
When the 82nd deployed in 2003-04, he served as chief of staff for the division's Rear Command Post and commander of the 782nd Main Support Battalion.
"While I was with the 82nd, we became very proficient on how units deployed, redeployed and reset. We had the processes in place and the people ready to go to support the Soldier so that the war fighter could focus on the fight," he said.
Even though his new position doesn't involve a deployment, Sullivan said the work of LOGSA employees has a direct impact on the front line.
"This organization has more relevance than ever," he said. "As we draw down and go through the Army Forces Generation (life cycle) process, LOGSA provides incredible tools to help oversee and manage the process."
Sullivan likes to refer to LOGSA employees as government servants, focusing on their impact on the greater Army community.
"There's a connection between the government servant and the Soldier on the battlefield.
There's an interdependency, a great web that has been woven," he said. "Your contribution as a government servant carries forward all the way to the battlefield."
As the leader of those government servants, Sullivan hopes to have an impact on creating a more fluid and efficient logistics environment as LOGSA makes its best contributions yet to the Army and the war fighter.
"We need to think about how the future environment will look and move toward that," he said. "We have to make sure we have the resources we need to facilitate between today's needs and future needs. We must remain good stewards of taxpayer money and help protect our investment by managing data, developing processes and tools, and developing business rules that support our investment."
For example, the Army has $18 billion worth of property - or 592,000 items - that move from one unit to another or are retrograded for transfer to Afghanistan. That property is managed through data systems and processes developed by LOGSA. The organization provides logistical support to 200,000 troops in Iraq as they downsize to 80,000 and the growth of upwards of 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.
The team built between LOGSA's government servants and Soldiers is a natural, Sullivan said, because "the values of our civilian work force are absolutely congruent with Army values. We are one big collective family because of similar values.
"From an organizational perspective, all of us at LOGSA will take ownership of our goals and collectively work toward those goals in support of the Army and the Soldier."