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NEWS | Dec. 6, 2022

SDDC leaders meet to increase understanding, determine way forward

By Frederick Rice Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command

The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command held its semi-annual Senior Leader Forum at the Force Flow Conference Center here November 19 through 21, 2022.

Maj. Gen. Gavin A. Lawrence, SDDC commanding general, hosted the event for commanders and senior enlisted leaders from each of SDDC’s active and Reserve component transportation brigades and SDDC headquarters staff. The theme for the event was Building Capabilities and Capacity for SDDC 2030.

The purpose of the event was to build a team that is ready to support the joint force globally in competition and conflict by ensuring all participants leave the conference having a shared understanding of SDDC’s common purpose.

“SDDC is a global command,” said Lawrence. “It is important to take the time to come together to understand the friction points we need to work through and determine the direction we need to take in the future.”

Throughout the forum, the team focused on identifying command requirements, reviewing the campaign plan, and developing the command’s way forward.

“This forum is more than just information on briefing slides,” added Lawrence. “I’m interested in having substantive discussions and an energetic exchange of ideas that will increase our common understanding and renew our focus and attention.”

According to Maj. Fred Teeter, chief of Lawrence’s Commander’s Action Group and lead planner for the event, the Senior Leader Forum is a key element of SDDC’s Total Force Integration efforts.

“By bringing together the command teams and staff from both SDDC’s active force and U.S. Army Reserve unit, the Deployment Support Command, for three full days of face-to-face discussion, we can have the tough conversations that wouldn’t translate as well over the phone or via a virtual conference,” said Teeter.

Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Rachel Humphrey, DSC commanding general, agreed that the forum provided an important opportunity for coordination.

“The DSC provides approximately 80 percent of the uniformed workforce supporting SDDC operations, so it is absolutely critical to have a shared understanding between the two commands,” said Humphrey.

“As the force provider, the DSC must accurately understand the complex environment in which SDDC operates,” continued Humphrey, “and it is important that we develop those partnerships with the staff and supported commands prior to the ‘time of need.’”

While Humphrey only recently assumed command of the DSC this past October, she has relationships with the SDDC staff already in place from her previous command of the DSC’s 1190th Transportation Brigade.

“The forum is a great opportunity to enhance existing relationships and build new ones,” said Humphrey. “I’ve been impressed with the caliber of all of the leaders and staff here, especially their ability to think critically and recommend creative solutions to challenging problems.”

In addition to operations collaboration, the forum provided opportunities for leaders to discuss the command’s most valuable resource, its people.

“By collaborating, we are able to ensure our readiness, training, professional development, and talent management decisions are aligned with the commanding general’s vision and intent,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brian J. Morrison, SDDC’s senior enlisted leader.

Another key element of the forum was the addition of breakout sessions, allowing command teams to meet individually with representatives from the SDDC headquarters staff directorates.

“Participation of our primary and special staff directors is a critical part of the forum’s success. Coming together here lets us work critical staff issues with command leadership that are much better suited to face-to-face interactions,” said Clay Carter, SDDC’s Personnel and Manpower director.

“Being able to directly interface with our active and Reserve component command teams is invaluable,” said Safety director Elias Cantu, “because we’re able to really discuss how we can improve the support we provide to them.”

Equal Employment Opportunity director Kevin Kirkpatrick concurred. “The insights gained during the forum provide an improved organizational sight picture that will allow me to better align my staff support with senior leader decisions.”

Brigade command team participants also found great value in attending the forum.

Col. Robert Kellam, commander of SDDC’s Germany-based 598th Transportation Brigade, said he and his senior enlisted leader both appreciated the opportunities the forum provided.

“It’s all about improving relationships and creating a shared understanding with the headquarters staff and our brigade counterparts,” said Kellam.

“The significance of meeting with both our Reserve and active component counterparts cannot be overstated,” added U.S. Army Reserve Col. William Robertson, commander of the DSC’s 1190th Transportation Brigade. “The forum also allowed Reserve command teams to gain a greater understanding of expectations about how the DSC can best support SDDC missions around the globe,” added Robertson.

A highlight of the senior leader forum was a visit on the final day from the senior leaders of U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Air Force Gen. Jaqueline Van Ovost and U.S. Navy Fleet Master Chief Donald O. Myrick, both of whom addressed forum participants.

“We are the best in the world at what we do, and SDDC delivers success time after time, day after day, and it matters,” said Van Ovost.

By the end of the forum, the leaders from across the command had a way forward and a shared understanding of SDDC’s common purpose.

“This was time well spent as we continue to drive SDDC to the next level,” said Lawrence.

The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command provides integrated and synchronized global deployment and distribution capabilities to the point of need, delivering innovative transportation solutions on time, on target, every time. As both the Army service component command to USTRANSCOM and a major subordinate command to U.S. Army Materiel Command, SDDC connects and synchronizes surface warfighting requirements through distribution network nodes to the point of need, responsively projecting power and delivering desired effects in support of combatant commands and the total joint force.