A Conversation with Army Brig. Gen. Mark T. Simerly

By DLA Public Affairs

PRINT  |  E-MAIL
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, DLA Troop Support commander, opens a meeting with DLA Troop Support senior leaders last summer in Philadelphia, which led to recommendations published in the 2019 DLA Troop Support Campaign Plan.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, DLA Troop Support commander, opens a meeting with DLA Troop Support senior leaders last summer in Philadelphia, which led to recommendations published in the 2019 DLA Troop Support Campaign Plan.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, DLA Troop Support commander, opens a meeting with DLA Troop Support senior leaders last summer in Philadelphia, which led to recommendations published in the 2019 DLA Troop Support Campaign Plan.
180809-D-XL571-001
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, DLA Troop Support commander, opens a meeting with DLA Troop Support senior leaders last summer in Philadelphia, which led to recommendations published in the 2019 DLA Troop Support Campaign Plan.
Photo By: John Dwyer III
VIRIN: 190101-D-YE683-018
What is DLA Troop Support? Why the name “Troop Support”? 

Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support is responsible for supporting our warfighting service members with their critical daily requirements everywhere across the globe. Simply put, we support America’s troops. 


We support individual service members with materials that touch their daily lives, including food, uniforms, medical supplies, protective equipment and industrial hardware. Our responsibility is to deliver optimal, global supply-chain solutions to enable ready, lethal warfighters and our other valued partners. 

Our workforce takes tremendous pride in DLA Troop Support’s warfighter support mission. In Philadelphia, we have a legacy of warfighter support tracing back to 1799 and the first federal arsenal. We’ve directly supported every conflict our nation has taken part in since. 

Our strong, passionate and patriotic team has been developed over time based on our historical legacy, our culture, our mission and the unique skillsets in the areas from which we recruit. That tradition and pride in supporting the warfighter reaches across the globe through our teammates in our regional commands: DLA Troop Support Pacific and DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa

Our passion is clear when reading the comments from our workforce in the DLA Culture and Climate Survey. When asked what we do well as an organization, nearly 70 percent of responders answered, “support the warfighter.” Our orientation is to relentlessly satisfy warfighter requirements, and that’s ingrained in our culture. 

Who are DLA Troop Support’s key partners, and how does DLA Troop Support collaborate with them to support the warfighter?
We see three categories of partners for DLA Troop Support. The first category is the warfighters we support — our customers. We actively collaborate with them to understand their requirements through routine, persistent engagement with key leaders and materiel planners. 

Another category of partners is our industry partners, who possess the capacity and the responsibility to deliver the items required by the warfighters, in many cases, directly on the battlefield. We collaborate with them in a very deliberate manner to ensure we understand their challenges and their capability and to communicate what we anticipate our warfighting partners will need.

Our partners across the DLA and Joint Logistics Enterprise compose the third category. DLA Troop Support cannot operate independently. We have linkages to all of our other major subordinate commands and can only optimize support to the warfighters through effective collaboration with our partners at the MSCs and at DLA Headquarters. We’re also closely tied to other Department of Defense and governmental entities with whom we share support roles, such as U.S. Transportation Command, the Defense Health Agency, service materiel commands, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security and others. 

While DLA Troop Support has unique responsibilities and mission sets within DLA, we rely on the entire DLA team to deliver the best solutions. The stronger our ability to share lessons learned, collaboratively tailor solutions and help our DLA partners understand their role in support of our supply chains and mission, the better warfighter support we’re able to deliver. 

How is DLA Troop Support preparing for future sustainment challenges?
The services are all at an inflection point in their modernization strategies, which means DLA Troop Support must posture itself now to anticipate their emerging requirements to compete in a more complex, dynamic and lethal warfighting environment.

This means we have a common responsibility to take the time to think clearly about future warfighter sustainment requirements. We must understand the way our warfighters express their future sustainment requirements, how our industry partners see potential materiel solutions they may have access to in the future, and how our partners in academia and in the science domain are developing new capabilities we can leverage for future sustainment solutions.

One way we’re setting conditions for the DLA Troop Support workforce to think, learn, analyze, implement and communicate future supply-chain solutions is through our Campaign of Learning. Through the CoL, we’re executing a series of learning events to help us understand the key challenges and conditions of the future sustainment environment. We’re conducting those learning events with subject matter experts, leading thinkers in the realm of warfighting, in the realm of science and technology, and in the realm of industry. We’ve also implemented a professional reading series to provoke thought and dialogue regarding future sustainment challenges and solutions. 

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, DLA Troop Support commander, conducted a staff ride in September at Valley Forge National Historical Park, where service members learned about the Continental Army’s battlefield logistics, living conditions, fighting tactics and key leaders during the Revolutionary War.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, DLA Troop Support commander, conducted a staff ride in September at Valley Forge National Historical Park, where service members learned about the Continental Army’s battlefield logistics, living conditions, fighting tactics and key leaders during the Revolutionary War.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, DLA Troop Support commander, conducted a staff ride in September at Valley Forge National Historical Park, where service members learned about the Continental Army’s battlefield logistics, living conditions, fighting tactics and key leaders during the Revolutionary War.
181030-D-DH167-003
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, DLA Troop Support commander, conducted a staff ride in September at Valley Forge National Historical Park, where service members learned about the Continental Army’s battlefield logistics, living conditions, fighting tactics and key leaders during the Revolutionary War.
Photo By: Alexandria Brimage-Gray
VIRIN: 190101-D-YE683-019
How is DLA Troop Support evolving with the increase in demand from the warfighter and other customers?

We see the services increasing their operations tempo, resulting in greater demands to generate and sustain readiness. That means we’ve got to be able to deliver more with our current capability. We’ve got to be smart about the way we do that, such as by developing improved automated tools to allow us to better anticipate and plan for requirements and be able to deliver them more effectively and efficiently.

Improved automation can save time, provide greater accuracy, speed delivery, and reduce the administrative lead time and the manual touches from our workforce. We also look to automation to increase our ability to collaborate with our partners and achieve audibility. 

One of the things that makes DLA Troop Support different is our history of taking unique, challenging sustainment requirements and developing innovative ways to meet them without adding cost, time or personnel and yet improving the level of our support.

As we see increasing demands for greater levels of support, both for warfighters and federal government partners, we have to change as well. We’ve had to do it in an agile manner that allows us to be anticipatory and predictive as to what those future requirements may be.

There is great potential for us to innovate in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced and additive manufacturing, and distributed ledger technology. 

What do you see as DLA Troop Support’s future sustainment challenges? What capabilities must we develop to meet those challenges to continue delivering solutions to warfighters and whole-of-government partners?
The future operating environment is going to offer challenges in multiple domains. As warfighters are contested in the air, sea, ground, cyber and space domains, DLA Troop Support will also be challenged to support them in those domains.

It’s incumbent on us to understand those domain challenges and how we can help overcome them by sustaining their operations in an assured manner.

Our global supply-chain solutions bridge commercial and military capabilities, and will be contested from factory to foxhole. We need to understand how we can best procure, position and distribute our capabilities on future battlefields. 

A key vulnerability we need to understand today is the cyber threat to the networks we rely on, which may no longer be trusted or protected. We have to account for the cyber threat and establish supply-chain security, especially within our complex networks that include our industry partners. We all have a role in becoming more cyber fluent so that we understand the cybersecurity implications of the decisions we make from all our workstations. 

Do you have any advice for your fellow logisticians?
First, I’d ask every logistician to constantly keep in mind why we exist: to serve the warfighter. This means that we need to understand and embrace our supporting role. 

Second, as leaders we have an obligation to lead in a positive manner in order to build teams and develop our teammates. There are several key characteristics of positive leadership. And for me, it comes down to three things: trust, discipline and commitment.

We all have an obligation to build, share and maintain trust in our organizations. Trust is the lifeblood of our profession and is truly the bedrock of all we do. Today trust is the essential ingredient for arriving at smarter, more affordable and more collaborative solutions. The way we support our customers is based on trust, on being the best stewards of resources we can be and providing the best support possible. 

When it comes to discipline, it’s incumbent on us all to accomplish the mission with honor and in accordance with our values. Discipline guides us to lead by example and to always treat each other with dignity and respect. 

We should also be committed to team excellence and committed to team success. If we’re successful as a team, then the warfighters are going to be successful in their mission. Finally, we have to be committed to customer satisfaction, the ultimate measure of our success.