FORT BRAGG, N.C. (August 17, 2012) Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces Command hosted a Civilian Human Resources Workforce Planning Training Conference here, Aug. 14-15.

The majority of the 45 attendees included FORSCOM section and subordinate commands' representatives who have the responsibility for Human Resources among other duties within their respective organizations.

The main goal of the event was to ensure they left functionally trained on workforce planning and understood their roles in the establishment and maintenance of a workforce plan.

The subordinate command's human resources personnel have been given as much authority as possible, noted Ronna R. Garrett, the FORSCOM director of Human Resources; and the workforce planning responsibilities fall on those Human Resource advisors and their unit commanders.

Garrett defined workforce planning as a systematic approach to:

• Determining staff needs
• Analyzing the current workforce
• Addressing gaps in numbers and competencies
• Ensuring continuity in mission critical occupations

"All of which is a critical part of ensuring organizational effectiveness and putting the right person in the right place at the right time," Garrett said.

The FORSCOM Civilian Corps consists more than 13,000 positions and is an integral part of the success of the FORSCOM team, she pointed out. She acknowledged that workforce planning for those employees is challenging -- balancing individual development with operational demands and creating an integrated human capital management system with the authorities and tools to achieve its goals.

The first day of the conference covered training on topics such as diversity in the workplace, human resource development, workforce shaping and FORSCOM manpower/funding in Fiscal Year 2012 and beyond.

Day two was dedicated to workforce planning breakout sessions with FORSCOM HR mentors. The resulting local workforce plans will be fed into the fiscal year 2013-2017 FORSCOM Human Capital Plan.

Caron Jackson, a supervisory, personnel and manpower specialist with the 20th Support Command, found the breakout sessions "immensely useful."

"We took data for our employees such as retirement eligibility, race/national origin, their (job) series to come up with statistical data to determine how many people may be retiring in key positions and what we need to focus on over the next four or five years about making sure we have plans in place so that if a key person retires we have someone to replace him or her," Jackson said.

"This conference opened my eyes to a few things I need to be paying attention to," said Robert Freckleton, chief of manpower and management division of the I Corps G-8 (Resource Management). "In particular, the breakout sessions identified critical information for upcoming manpower cuts and helped us focus on all the details we need to be focusing on."

He added that the informal networking the conference offered was just as important for him as the formal training. He also found the offer of continued mentoring from the FORSCOM Human Resources team very welcome.

"Probably the best part was the brainstorming opportunities that I had talking with people from other units who are in like positions -- hearing some of the strategies they use that I'm going to try to implement and sharing some of what I know and imparted that they may find useful," said Rebekah Hilgenberg, manpower and management division chief with the Mission Support Element G-8 at Fort Bliss, Texas, who is facing upcoming retirements or vacancies within her organization.

Eric E. Porter, the FORSCOM assistant deputy chief of staff for G-1 (Personnel), wrapped up the conference by congratulating the attendees on what they had accomplished, discussing the challenges they face in the upcoming years, and encouraging them to continue interfacing with the FORSCOM HR staff for support.

He emphasized that each of them will play a critically important role for the Army in shaping the civilian workforce of the future and preventing talent loss.

Before making his closing remarks, Porter had listened as a representative from each of the various FORSCOM sections and subordinate units spoke about the initial workforce plan they had drafted for their particular organization during the breakout sessions.