FORT KNOX, Ky - Command teams from across the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) gathered at Fort Knox's Harris Hall for a command conference June 29 and 30.

The commanders and their senior enlisted advisors came from the 7th Sustainment Brigade at Fort Eustis, Va., the 49th Quartermaster Group at Fort Lee, Va., and the 233rd Transportation Company and 3d ESC headquarters on Fort Knox. This was the first time the command teams from all 3d ESC units gathered at Fort Knox for a commander's conference.

The leaders discussed the issues and challenges facing the 3d ESC, one of the Army's three active duty expeditionary sustainment commands, and the importance of ensuring the command's units are ready to deploy when called.

"Forget all the bells and whistles out there. Let's get back to the basics," said 3d ESC commander, Brig. Gen. Robin Akin, a Nashville, Tn. native, during the conference's opening session.

Akin talked about the need to keep Soldiers ready for deployment, emphasizing physical training and weapons qualification.

A major topic at the conference was the ARFORGEN training model. ARFORGEN stands for Army Force Generation and is the system by which the Army rotates units for deployment, making sure each unit has adequate time at home station to retrain and refit before deploying again.

According to 3d ESC Chief of Staff, Col. Marvin Whitaker, every 3d ESC unit is currently at some point in the ARFORGEN process, making this conference all the more important.

"This commander's conference was the first time we all saw the big board, the moving pieces, the complexity of the moving pieces and the complexity of the issues that have to be worked," said Whitaker, a native of Black, Ala.

Ten 3d ESC units of various sizes are scheduled to deploy over the next 12 months and the 3d ESC headquarters' recent deployments are helping the command prepare its subordinate units for their deployments.

3d ESC deputy commander, Col. Jarrold Reeves, spoke at the conference about the command's 15-month deployment to Iraq, its no-notice deployment to Haiti and how those experiences have led the command to focus on training for full spectrum operations.

"We're balancing what we did in Haiti against what we did in Iraq," said Reeves, a native of Avondale Estates, Ga.

During the two-day conference, the commanders and their staffs also discussed the command's long range training calendar and the recent Forces Command Training Synchronization and Resourcing Conference. Each of the 3d ESC's brigades and selected staff sections then briefed topics of interest across the command. The commanders also attended a break-out session hosted by Akin, while their sergeants major and first sergeants attended a session with the 3d ESC command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Willie Tennant.

In the closing session, Tennant, a native of Pleasantville, N.J., talked to the command teams about the importance of certain personnel requirements to deploying units. He stressed the need to have equal opportunity representatives, sexual assault response coordinators, unit victim advocates and unit prevention leaders trained and in place prior to deploying. Tennant also offered himself as a resource to the 3d ESC's subordinate units.

"I'm here for you, you're not here for me, so use me," said Tennant.

Akin described the commander's conference as "a phenomenal success" and said she appreciated the opportunity to get together with all her subordinate command teams.

"[We were] able to mentor, teach and coach. Can't do that from a distance," said Akin.


Story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Dave McClain, 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) public affairs. For queries, contact 3d Sustainment Command Public Affairs at (502) 624-8601. For high-resolution photos and stories by the 3d Sustainment Command, please contact the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System at (678) 421-6612 or access them online at