VICKSBURG, Ms –
Eleven command teams from across the 412th Theater Engineer Command (TEC) gathered in-person and virtually to focus on the way ahead for all Army Reserve engineer assets in the 20 states east of the Mississippi River. The Senior Leaders Summit (SLS) was held Nov. 13-15 at the Decatur Army Reserve Center in Georgia.
Maj. Gen. Stephen Strand, commander, 412th TEC, addressed the importance of caring for people and their Families and expanded on current and future training and readiness requirements while mitigating the risk posed by COVID-19.
Strand emphasized safely accomplishing all tasks in the current COVID-19 environment while describing the summit as a crucial event that readies his trained engineer units to move forward in support of the latest Army Reserve objectives.
“Leaders need development and education opportunities regardless of seniority,” said Strand. “This event focused on the senior leaders of the 412th TEC, who lead 1/8 of the US Army's Tactical and Operational Engineer units and Soldiers.”
The attendees were charged with taking lessons learned back to their Soldiers to ensure they were prepared for future operations.
“We are building the Army of tomorrow,” said Strand. “So let's make those next generation of leaders better than all of us leading today.”
Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, the Chief of Army Reserve, and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command, addressed people as the number one priority for the force, and discussed the way ahead as the Army Reserve adjusts to new mobilization requirements and works to fill shortfalls of mid-grades in both enlisted and commissioned personnel.
“We're short mid-grade officers and NCOs,” said Daniels. “When we get to the sergeant and captain ranks, we don't have enough Soldiers that are continuing to serve at those levels.”
Daniels advocated that simplified administrative processes, constant talent management and better mentoring of junior enlisted and commissioned Soldiers will resolve those issues and retain those crucial ranks.
“It's what can we do to help those processes be better, so those experiences are better,” said Daniels. “So the company commander isn't spending time filling out packets and pushing papers all the time. The intent is to just do those requirements and reviews that need to be done without doing a lot of additive work.”
Strand echoed Daniels’ virtual counsel to the commands’ leadership about the urgency of adapting processes, particularly in the current environment.
“As the Army is always evolving and changing to meet the new threats or improving efficiency or capability, we need regular updates from those most senior leaders to ensure we are all moving in the same direction,” said Strand.
With a total of 37 service members and three civilians attending, the SLS strictly adhered to COVID safety protocols at all times. Masked Soldiers and hand sanitizers decorated the sea of laptops and atmosphere of near-constant briefs about upcoming policies and procedures.
The 412th TEC also hosted a Senior Spouses Seminar, 14 Nov., with 12 spouses of the command- and brigade-level teams, to include Claire Strand, wife of the 412th TEC commander, who attended in person, and Daniels’ husband, John McCarthy, who addressed the seminar virtually.
“Everything right now is harder and takes longer,” said, Claire Strand, regarding the weekend’s events. “Sharing their (attendees) precious time and energy is a spirit to be proud of.”