The New Home of the Corps

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Excerpts from remarks made at the May 26, 1966, “Mess Night,” held in Washington, D.C., to honor the Naval Supply Systems Command.

BY REAR ADMIRAL H. J. GOLDBERG, SC, USN COMMANDER, NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEMS COMMAND

It is with mixed emotions and a deep sense of humility that, as the last Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, I accept this flag of our former Corps’ home – but it will be with an equally deep sense of pride then I present it to the Truxtun-Decatur Museum where it will continue to fly in honor of the long and glorious history of the Bureau.

For the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts has served our Navy and Corps well. Under the leadership of a long line of illustrious predecessors, the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts has been the organization most responsible for the integration of heterogeneous supply efforts into a unified Navy Supply System responsive to our Navy’s requirements. And, equally, if not more important, BuSandA has provided the home for our Corps – a home in which those family responsibilities of acquisition, training pride and career planning were coordinated to produce the cohesive body of business and financial managers that comprise the Supply Corps today.

But as an organization, BuSandA’s life was subject to the same element that gave it birth – change. As the philosopher said, “there is nothing permanent except change.” And as Disraeli added, “change is inevitable in a progressive country.”

It was change in management thinking that led in 1842 to the creation of the Bureau of Provisions and Clothing. The progressive expansion of that Bureau’s responsibilities dictated changing its name to the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts in 1892. Now, nearly 3/4 of a century later, the need to align organization with weapons system and project management concepts has once again dictated a change – the demise of BuSandA and the birth of the Naval Supply Systems Command.

Just as the Bureau’s role in the Navy changed and grew, so has the role of the Supply Corps – from purveyors, to pursers, to paymasters, to business and financial managers.

So much for the past, for the future it is important that the Corps continues to have a home, and continues to grow in capacity to serve out Navy and nation. The Naval Supply Systems Command Headquarters provides the required home.

To enhance our Corps’ capacity to serve – to keep pace with the growing importance and integration of logistics; the trend to stronger centralized direction of logistics operations; the trend toward civilianization [of Vietnam]; and the rapid technological advances which are reshaping the face of logistics – to keep pace with all of these trends, a set of long-range objectives for our Corps is necessary.

So, under my personal direction I have established a committee and hired a consulting firm to undertake four principle tasks:

  • To study the future trends of business and logistics management in the armed services;
  • To study the proper role and responsibilities of the Navy Supply Corps in that management;
  • To develop a statement of Supply Corps objectives related to that role; and
  • To develop action plans to achieve the objectives.

The Supply Corps objectives study is an “all hands” effort which is important, not only to the Corps, but the Navy. Therefore, with all my heart I solicit the participation of every officer from ensign to admiral and I am counting upon each of you to pass the word. We need the thoughts and ideas of as many members of the Corps as possible. I assure you they will be given full consideration and the sooner they are received, the more consideration they can receive. Your clear channel to participating in this work is to send your thoughts in writing to OP [Office of Personnel].

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The mere setting of objectives will go a long way to achieving them – for while organizational change is inevitable, the destiny of the Supply Corps is not. As Tennyson said, “man is master of his fate.”

The burden of proof is on us to live up to Vice Admiral Galantin’s opinion when he said that: “the progressive outlook, the quest for improvements which mark the Supply Corps, indicate that far into the future, the U.S. Navy will lead both in the science of logistics and in the art of logistics.”

In the final analysis, the future of the Supply Corps will be a function of the capability, dedication and performance of each and every man in the Corps, and this is why I chose to hold this “mess night” – this traditional dining-in ceremony which officers over the centuries have held to symbolize their dedication to the service of their country.

I think it is essential that this “mess night’ be a night of rededication of the Corps, that we reaffirm our motto, “Ready for Sea,” that we honor the successor of that flag by being truly worthy of our new home, our Navy and our nation.

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May/June 2016