EUCOM J4 and SDDC 598th Deployment and Distribution Workshop reinstituted.
"A lot has happened in the time since the last workshop in 2002: war in Iraq, formation of the EUCOM Deployment & Distribution Operations Center, and closure of Rhein-Main Air Base to name a few. It is now time to recap some of these events, consider the lessons learned, and look forward toward the future," said D'Angelo, the USEUCOM host during the welcome ceremony.
"Our theme this year, 'Beyond the Port--Transforming Transportation,' focuses on technological, organizational, and other changes to which transporters throughout the European area of operations find themselves adapting to our theater's growth in accommodating 'end-to-end' distribution process. These initiatives have made us smarter and more cross-organizationally skilled, but also has placed emphasis on the need to work together to provide better support to the warfighter," said Stanley, the SDDC 598th Transportation Group host.
The theme was chosen because of the increased role both organizations have assumed in the EUCOM theater of operations since the last workshop in 2002. During this time the Military Traffic and Management Command (MTMC) changed its name to the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) to better reflect its new role as the distribution process owner for surface transportation from fort to foxhole. EUCOM has undergone changes as well, recently transforming the Joint Movement Center (JMC) into the EDDOC to coordinate deployment and distribution operations across the theater.
The stage was set for a gathering of industry and military theater deployment and distribution leaders to meet in this tiny Bavarian village nestled in the foothills of the German Alps.
The workshop opened with keynote speeches by Maj. Gen. Charles W. Fletcher, Jr., commander of SDDC, and Rear Adm. Michael J. Lyden, Director of Logistics and Security Assistance, HQ USEUCOM. These senior leaders informed the workshop attendees about the transportation and distribution challenges that lie ahead as we simultaneously fight a global war on terror and attempt to transform the theater.
"We are on the threshold of truly changing the way we perform logistics in the theater," Lyden said. He continued by addressing the important mission of distributing cargo beyond the port and the cooperation between the EUCOM J4 and SDDC that will make the mission a success.
Fletcher underlined the importance of quality communication between the transporter and the customer. He illustrated this with an example of the U.S. Civil War where cargo was re-ordered up to three times before it arrived. Then with a "satellite view" he showed the audience the broad scheme of SDDC transportation and distribution activities around the globe.
The core of the workshop activities was a series of diverse panels and working groups organized by the joint EUCOM/598th workshop staff. A total of six different panels were offered. The Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Lessons Learned, Container Management, and Inland Transportation workshop panels scored very well with participants Other panels such as Sustainment Cargo, Air Transportation, and NATO/ISAF panels also received high marks from the conference attendees.
All panels offered an opportunity for subject matter experts to present material and then discuss that material with the audience. Additionally, a day was spent in working groups formed to discuss and generate solutions to issues like customs clearance, container management, the EDDOC, sustainment cargo, and transportation systems. Both the panel and working group sessions served to enlighten the 300 transportation and logistics professionals from commands all over Europe and the United States on the initiatives military transporters in Europe are undertaking to meet customers' needs.
One goal of the workshop planners was to bring the military and its commercial partners together to discuss deployment and distribution issues. This aim was highly visible throughout the week, with industry leaders sitting on panels and the opportunity for our users to speak with commercial representatives in the exhibit hall. The exhibit hall was the showcase for our industry partners and was filled with booths from 12 companies and agencies all sharing information about their business.
"Most attendees I've talked with were impressed with not only the relevance of the topics we placed on the table, but the quality of discussions and debates that took place," said Stanley. "Several issues identified will be worked out between EUCOM J4 and the 598th Transportation Group. Others will be passed along to our national partners to work at the strategic level. The plan now is to collate the information gathered, develop a way ahead, assign responsibility for the issues raised and come together again on a periodic basis to track the progress that is being made.
"We won't wait for another three-plus years to discuss the relevant issues that affect the way we deploy and sustain forces not only in this theater, but around the globe."
During the closing ceremony on Friday, D'Angelo thanked all the attendees for their contributions and promised that this would mark the beginning of increased cooperation and sharing of information to insure the relevancy of theater deployment and distribution processes. "We have listened and together with your support we will give the warfighter what he needs, when he needs it."
In total, some 20 different activities/commands were involved in the conference which included participants from all of the components, NATO partners, as well as representatives from the commercial industry who are critical to the success of any theater deployment and distribution strategy/program. D'Angelo and Stanley both expressed their gratitude and pledged their commands' support to use these annual conferences as a springboard to improve support to the warfighter.
Keynote addresses, panel and working group briefings are available on the workshop website: http://cidss2.sddc.army.mil/598thworkshop.nsf
Bram de Jong, Command Affairs Officer 598th Transportation Group