KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany –
The commander of Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support was in familiar territory when he addressed the workforce in Kaiserslautern, Germany Aug. 28.
“I have to tell you that I’m on more familiar terrain here than I am in Philadelphia,” Army Col. Mark Simerly told DLA Troop Support Europe and Africa employees during a town hall. “And Germany is one of the best places to live and work.”
As an Army brat, Simerly lived in Augsburg and later Frankfurt, where he graduated from high school.
The commander also had two previous assignments in Germany, serving with the 3rd and 1st Infantry Divisions.
He thanked the workforce for “the remarkable things you do and how well you do them” in a theater that entails a broad number of mission sets supporting customers in a large, dispersed geographical area that ranges from Europe to the African horn.
He also described the three things he expects from employees and of himself: trust, discipline and commitment.
“We all have an obligation to build, share and maintain trust in our organizations,” he said. “It’s truly the bedrock of what we do. The way we support our customers is based on trust, on being the best stewards we can be in providing the best support possible.”
He said that loyalty to the team and its mission is also a component of trust.
“When it comes to discipline, it’s incumbent on us all to accomplish the mission the right way and do it with honor in accordance with our values,” he said. “Lead by example and treat everybody with dignity and respect – always – that’s a given.”
Simerly encouraged the workforce to commit to team success through excellence and engaged leadership.
“Demand the best from yourself and others,” he said. “Hold each other accountable for mission performance, as well as treating the team in the appropriate way.”
He then described the importance of positive leadership to team success.
“Positive leadership produces results unlike any other kind of leadership. It recognizes outstandingcontributions, encourages initiative, innovation, risk taking and does not foster a zero-defect environment,” he said.
Simerly encouraged employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance, to focus on their own well-being and their families’. Taking care for subordinates is equally important, he said.
“One of the ways we do that is through counseling,” Simerly said. “Explain your expectations of them and your understanding of their role, and have that dialogue back and forth routinely on performance.”
Lastly, the commander reminded employees that serving the warfighter is “why we’re here.”
“We’re here to produce an effect in the operational force,” he said. “And if we’re not doing that, then everything we do is not producing the return on investment the nation has made in our organization.”
At the close of the town hall, Simerly asked for feedback from the audience on issues that he should know about and how leadership can assist.
One question was about the turnover in key Subsistence positions that is causing a loss of institutional knowledge and continuity.
Simerly responded that leadership is reviewing options, to include staggered rotation times, long-term schedules and temporarily filling positions in Germany with employees from Troop Support in Philadelphia until permanent replacements are hired.