News | Aug. 30, 2017

DLA Troop Support leaders propose surge flexibility, cross-training during strategic planning session

By Jason Kaneshiro DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support senior leaders plotted a path to continue to deliver superior warfighter support during a planning session August 24.

The session also served to gather DLA Troop Support’s input for the new DLA strategic plan, which is expected to be finalized before the end of this year.

“I appreciate your candor to assess where we’re at and where we’re going,” said Army Col. Mark Simerly, DLA Troop Support commander. “Let’s be very mindful about how we use this plan to express our priorities and our way ahead.”

The assembly reviewed the organization’s strengths and identified areas that could be improved to increase the resiliency and effectiveness of the workforce and the flexibility of the organization to respond to spikes in customer demands.

One of Troop Support’s strengths is the forward presence of employees that allows global reach to customers and industry partners. Other strengths include a focus on improving culture and the workforce’s commitment to support the warfighter.

Simerly said he’s been impressed by the level of dedication he’s seen from the workforce.

“You’d expect our veterans and service-connected employees to be passionate about supporting the services,” Simerly said. “What’s remarkable to me are those that have not served in the military, but still have that same passion for servicing the warfighters.”

The assembly agreed that the current way the workforce is organized works well today. But an inability to shift employees to support a surge in demand of a particular commodity could restrict the ability to respond to emergencies.

“We don’t seem to have that flexibility to change that for contingencies or maybe some variations in operations,” said Charles Grabowski, DLA Troop Support internal review director. “Maybe there should be something where we can change the structure temporarily.”

Other areas to improve include expanding opportunities for cross-training, mentoring, and developing management and leadership skills.

Beth McMaster, Business Process Support director, said that the current workforce’s knowledge is largely specialized and that most employees with general knowledge of supply chain operations are near retirement.

“We’re okay in our processes, and people know their job,” McMaster said. “We need to develop some type of cross-process focus.”

John Lightner, DLA Troop Support chief counsel, said that the workforce could also benefit from a greater emphasis on training to develop supervisors that have management and leadership skills.

“I think, at times, people aren’t ready for the leadership responsibility and fall back to what’s comfortable for them, doing the work they had done before becoming a supervisor,” Lightner said.

Discussion notes were distributed to the senior leaders at the close of the planning session to guide the development of DLA Troop Support’s operational imperatives, which will be presented to DLA Headquarters for incorporation in the DLA strategic plan.