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Commander unveils plans for new readiness command: key leaders assemble for conference.

They came from as far as Istanbul, Hawaii and Korea and as nearby as Fort Eustis, Va. But anyone coming to the Woodland's Conference Center in Williamsburg, Va., expecting a vacation found something more similar to what our nation's founding fathers sought as they strove to develop the new nation's strength--solidarity and uniformity in thoughts and vision.

Maj. Gen. Charles W. Fletcher, Jr., commander of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, assembled his key leaders--SDDC subordinate commanders and headquarters staff--as well as our wartraced reserve unit commanders, key non-commissioned officers, strategic mobility partners and deploying unit representatives--for a three-day conference to discuss the command's continuing evolution and expanding mission which includes plans for a new readiness command.

The conference began July 30 as Fletcher unveiled his vision of the new SDDC Command Plan which includes structuring parts of the organization into a Deployment and Distribution Readiness Command (DDRC). The DDRC would command and control all SDDC assigned Army units and provide training and readiness oversight to all Army Reserve Component units performing water terminal, deployment support, container management and movement control operations.

"The partnership of the Active Component with the Reserve Component has never been better," said Fletcher.

Col. Bob Askey, deputy chief of staff for Training, Readiness and Mobilization, agrees and is ready to move forward with the DDRC which will expand SDDC command and control to all Army Reserve Transportation Terminal and Movement Control Structure.

"Our structure needs to be a balanced Active and Reserve Component, but more importantly equipped and trained to the same standard to more effectively support and participate in the rotational expeditionary force," said Askey. "Including Movement Control in the fold gives us the end-to-end capability that we need to execute the Distribution Process Owner mission."

Fletcher's conference goal was to ensure that the group understood how the Command's ongoing transformation would affect them. His aim--to set the command's standards high so operations stand out to meet the command's number one priority--providing only the finest deployment and distribution support to the warfighter.

"The future is now," said Fletcher. "The objective of SDDC is to close the deployment and distribution capability gaps."

Fletcher shared the positive views received from Army leadership supporting the DDRC. Among them were Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, Chief, Army Reserve; Maj. Gen. Richard O. Wightman, Director of Joint Training, HQ Joint Forces Command; and Maj. Gen. Gary L. Border, FORSCOM G-4.

In a July 9 statement, Helmly touted this support: "I support the concept of a functional readiness command within SDDC for select Transportation units 110 percent," said Helmly. "This is absolutely the right thing to do."

Fletcher also stressed the importance of intransit visibility and its effect on how we do business at SDDC.

"It is no longer moving the box," said Fletcher. "It's moving the contents of the box. The DDRC will provide our units with standardized communications and intransit visibility capability."

The importance of training in a joint environment to promote full readiness was also a spotlighted agenda item. The Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS) Operation set for the August timeframe serves as a prime example said Fletcher.

"SDDC is the Joint Task Force Commander of this joint mission," said Fletcher. "Over 800 Sailors, 100 Army personnel, and an Air Force element will be operating a joint mission rehearsal operation."

Lt. Col. Mike Balser, 833d Transportation Battalion commander, understands that moving to a joint capability working with the other services is pivotal to the operation's success as he will go from 833d commander to deputy commander of the JLOTS Joint Task Force. He believes the level of joint cooperation has never been better which will lead to true interoperability.

"We're not in this as an interagency," said Balser. "The partnership has kept us alive."

Fletcher agreed totally.

"There is an awful lot we need to learn from this, and it will go into training guidance for all of you," said Fletcher. "There is much that goes into this to make it all work."

Other key highlights presented by the SDDC commander included realigning groups to Regional Combatant Commands for more effective support, reorganizing the groups and battalions to give them a deployable, expeditionary capability while maintaining routine commercial operations at the ports, a Director of Military Forces-Surface to provide the same strategic to operational distribution C2 as does the existing DIRMOBFOR-Air, and creating an Ammunition Terminal Group to manage ammunition shipments worldwide.

Also discussed was the restationing of the 597th Transportation Group to Fort Eustis that will restore the capabilities in the 597th previously held by the command's former area commands prior to their consolidation at Fort Eustis.

"That is why we moved the 597th Transportation Group up here (to Fort Eustis)," said Fletcher. "So they can C2 the battalions and control the fort to the port."

The day concluded with a special presentation by Col. Bas Oskam, Office of the Chief of Army Reserve, who spoke on the Regional Readiness Command reorganization and a timely General Officer Management Office briefing by Mr. Jerry Erickson, General Officer Management Office, (GOMO), for all 04 and 05 officers.

Spirited, well-planned discussions and workshops also spanned the day, and attendees had the opportunity to discuss with their leader key logistics issues concerning their areas of responsibility.

The attendees also participated in a Rock Drill July 31 at Fort Eustis' Modisett Center. According to Askey, the rock drill focused on the progress being made on developing a common Command Operating Picture with our logistics partners as well as our efforts to include Army movement control structure into the DPO mission.

Systems demonstrations showcasing Battle Command Sustainment Support System, Single Mobility System, Radio Frequency Identification, Worldwide Port System, Transportation Coordinators Automated Information for Movements Systems II and Global Transportation Network were also available for viewing.

A staff ride concluded the conference on August 1 with a Civil War Battle of Williamsburg walking tour hosted by Mike Bellafaire, command historian for SDDC, for commanders, primary staff and senior NCOs.

For Lt. Col. Dave Cook, G7, the staff ride held a special significance as his great-great grandfather was a member of the South Carolina Palmetto Sharpshooters, one of the units that fought in that battle.

"I know my great-great grandfather recovered from wounds in a hospital in Williamsburg during that timeframe," said Cook. "I'm lucky to be here, today."

Askey, who served as conference host, described the conference as a very productive weekend. "All the goals we set forth to accomplish with this conference were met," said Askey.

Again and again, communication was cited as the best part of the conference.

"It is always beneficial to hear the view from the Commander as SDDC evolves," said Col. Robert Oliveras, 597th Transportation Group Commander. "It sets the stage for future planning and execution."

June M. Pagan, Public Affairs Specialist SDDC Operations Center
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Author:Pagan, June M.
Date:Sep 22, 2005
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