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Leaning forward: 167th TSC and DLA conduct key leader engagement

On the invitation of the Alabama National Guard’s 167th Theater Sustainment Command commanding general, Maj. Gen. Don Tatum, a team from the Defense Logistics Agency conducted a key leader engagement at the home of the TSC in Anniston, Alabama, May 18, 2018.

The team, led by David R. Kless, executive director, operations in DLA Logistics Operations, engaged in detailed and in-depth discussions with the command group and staff from the TSC, focusing on the ways the two entities can and should work together to ensure the TSC can fulfill its operational responsibility of providing theater sustainment to the combatant commander.

“There are a lot of things we need to work through,” said Tatum at the beginning of the day. He went on to say that mission-capabilities gaps should be addressed before a crisis or disaster situation. “Let’s do that now.”

“What I don’t want to do is just check boxes,” added Kless. “I want to make sure we answer the gaps we have.”

Tatum focused the engagement on finding ways to incorporate sustainment efficiencies generated by strategic partners like DLA, to ensure the TSC is mission ready and capable of providing the right things to the right place at the right time.

Throughout the day, two key phrases kept repeating: anticipating requirements and leaning forward. Tatum and Kless both stressed that the military logistics community cannot wait for logistics requirements to be requested, but must anticipate the needs of combatant commanders and other supported government agencies by working to find solutions to those requirements before a hurricane or other no-notice event occurs. Many questions began with “how do we…,” as the TSC staff engaged in dialogue with the DLA visitors about how to improve relationships and ways in which the two entities can synchronize efforts to ensure combatant commanders’ theater logistics requirements are met. Two key ways the group identified to meet that goal are through conducting exercises and fostering a continual working relationship. “We need to be talking and engaging with the TSC,” said Bill Lederer, National Guard and Reserve liaison for DLA.

“In a week and a half, we’re going to be in hurricane season,” said Kless. After each disaster, he said there are always people who say “I wish I had known…” “I want to address those things ahead of time.” There’s no perfect answer, he said. “The execution will vary, but the plan should be consistent.”

Currently the 167th TSC supports U.S. Northern Command and works for U.S. Army North when a DoD sustainment response is needed. However, a move is in the works to change the support alignment for the 167th TSC, and some of the discussion was specifically tailored to the 167th’s anticipated change in their support relationship with U.S. Southern Command. “We’re going to roll up our sleeves and get to work to see how we can work together to support US Army South and USSOUTHCOM,” said Col. Eric Sloughfy, 167th TSC support operations officer.

Tatum also stressed that, as the senior National Guard logistics unit (the only National Guard TSC), the 167th has a responsibility to mentor other logistics units. “We need to pull together to decide how we want to grow and nurture the sustainment community across all components.”

This was the first visit from DLA to the 167th headquarters, and Tatum’s first formal engagement with DLA since taking command in December 2017. However, it is not likely to be the last engagement as the DLA team indicated a willingness to return as early as the 167th’s annual training period later this year.

Date Taken: 05.18.2018
Date Posted: 05.20.2018 11:56
Story ID: 277664
Location: ANNISTON, AL, US 

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