Bridging The Gap… Activated for an Operational Afloat Assignment

 Only four short years ago, I wore the “crow” of a First Class Petty Officer, mobilized in support of contingency operations at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, Africa. 

Lt. j.g. Steven Archer works with the MSC Customer Service team, researching ENG parts requirements with ABE2 Boykin, IC3 Pelovitz, and EM3Baltazar.

 Today, standing on the flight deck of “America’s Flagship” USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), I proudly wear the silver bar of a Lieutenant Junior Grade supporting two separate departments.  I have had an amazing ride the past four years; my story is not the typical one when you think of a Mustang in the wardroom of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier.  

 As a Logistics Specialist First Class Petty Officer, I was the Materials Readiness Coordinator for the J4 logistics branch of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), where I was fortunate enough to work shoulder to shoulder with some of the best supply officers in the Navy.  These officers ultimately became my inspiration for pursuing a commission as a Navy Reserve officer.  While on mobilization, I made the choice to explore a program known as Reserve Direct Commissioning.  Upon my return stateside, I first learned that I was selected for Chief, and subsequently learned of my selection to receive a commission as a Supply Corps officer.  It was a proud time for me, but more importantly, I was grateful I had taken the time and effort to put in a package.

  I was fortunate that the Navy Reserve was allowing certain officers to attend the six-month active duty Basic Qualification Course (BQC) as opposed to the traditional two-year course for Reservists that involve a mix of classroom and self-paced classes.  I arrived in Newport, R.I. in May 2011 to study the fine art of Navy logistics alongside my active duty counterparts.  A full third of my BQC class was made up of Navy Reserve officers (3105).  The blend of active and Reserve officers provided a unique opportunity to draw from the many experiences that reservists bring from their civilian career fields.  For example, a case study would be presented for the class to generate solutions.  The dynamic of recent Officer Candidate School (OCS) graduates and Navy Reservists with significant experience in the civilian workforce provided a practical perspective along with the innovative ideas formulated during recent college courses.  I believe it enhanced the educational experience.

 After BQC, I returned home to Texas to apply what I had learned in my new Reserve assignment at the local detachment of Commander, Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) Det 310, Fort Worth, Texas.  Still craving a challenge, I elected to apply for a 3105 “Division Officer Afloat” opportunity.  While serving at sea is not always practical for Reservists with full-time jobs, it is still very competitive and billet availability is scarce.  In September 2012, I received word that I was selected for three-year recall to serve as a Division officer aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

Lt. j.g. Steven Archer stands on the flight deck of “America’s Flagship,” and looks off into the horizon.

 Looking back now, it is hard to believe how quickly my path from being a Petty Officer to a Division Officer unfolded.  I would have never imagined how far I would come in such a short time. 

 Today, I have two job titles … I am the Supply Customer Service (S-1A) Division officer and the Maintenance Support Center (MSC) Division officer working for the Chief Engineer.  You would not know I am a Reservist unless you asked.  I fulfill all the same requirements and have the same duties and responsibilities as my active component peers.  Within the Supply Department, I manage the government-commercial purchase card (GCPC) program , expediting more than $2 million annually in critical repair parts and consumables to ensure that REAGAN is mission ready at all times.  Within the Engineering Department, I play an active role in the troubleshooting and research of degraded equipment, working side by side with maintainers to identify, track, and deliver the specific repair parts they need. 

 My third and less documented role is being the liaison between Supply Department and Engineering Department, breaking down traditional barriers by bringing awareness to the logisticians expediting requirements, while at the same time providing insight to the maintainers on the intricacies of the Navy Supply system.  This is a unique position as I am the only division officer on board that reports to two different Head of Departments (HOD).  I have the unique opportunity to blend both my military and civilian expertise in order to deliver solutions to everyday issues that routinely slow down the requisition process, adding hours or even days to preventative and corrective maintenance efforts due to logistic constraints.   I regularly fall back on my civilian foundation as a Business Solutions Architect where I would maximize efficiencies by mapping out scalable solutions to issues between technical experts and end users.  In my current role, the logisticians are my technical experts, and the maintenance personnel are my end users.  This strong relationship ensures Ronald Reagan is one of the most ready and capable carriers in the fleet.

 I have worn a Navy uniform for almost my entire adult life because I have enjoyed the camaraderie, self-satisfaction, sense of pride, and level of support provided to my family.  In the near future, I hope to join the ranks of the Full Time Support (FTS) force, because I desire to share my experiences and help junior Reserve Sailors with the same ambitions.  I hope to motivate those around me to strive for the next challenge and increase their technical knowledge and real world exposure.  At the same time, I desire to keep moving the Navy forward into the next generation of warfare in which expeditionary and littoral combat are keys to defending our national interests. 

 The Navy will need a diverse range of experiences to meet the logistical challenges posed by this new era of operations.  My journey has taken me on a path I wouldn’t have predicted and that has only made me stronger and wiser.  I can’t wait to see where it takes me next!

By Lt. j.g. Steven Archer

S-1A Division Officer, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)

–usn—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture ties to the sentence, I play an active role in the

troubleshooting and research of degraded equipment, working side by side

with maintainers to identify, track, and deliver the specific repair parts

they need”.

 

The first picture is of me standing on the flight deck looking off into the

horizon. I used this to tie to the second sentence in the opening paragraph,

“Today, standing on the flight deck of “America’s Flagship”, the USS RONALD

REAGAN”.

 

The second picture is of me