BY LT. CMDR. ADAM HAMILTON, SC, USN NAVY SUPPLY CORPS SCHOOL
During a late spring week in Newport, Rhode Island, over 25 Supply Corps officers, senior enlisted, and community stakeholders gathered at the Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS) with a single objective – to review schoolhouse training and ensure it is current and fleet relevant. Over a four-day period, NSCS staff worked alongside senior Supply Corps officers and subject matter experts, representing fleets, type commanders (TYCOMs) and agencies, to recommend curricula enhancements. The NSCS Board of Visitors (BoV) resembled biennial Fleet Support Review (FSR), held years ago when NSCS was still in Athens, Georgia. Much like the FSR, the BoV proved to be a valuable forum for validating training requirements and identifying opportunities to improve Supply Officer (SUPPO) training.
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Senior Supply Corps leaders gathered in Newport, Rhode Island, for the BoV.
The overarching purpose of the NSCS BoV was to ensure that NSCS curricula and processes were aligned with the vision of Supply Corps leadership; that they optimize personal and professional development; and, most importantly, that they meet fleet readiness requirements. The BoV augmented existing processes that are in place to validate individual NSCS courses by operating under a different paradigm – examining Supply Corps officer core competency training as a continuum from accession through senior officer afloat department head. The BoV membership included a principals group composed of senior Supply Corps officers (O-6s) from stakeholder commands and an advisory group composed of action officers, senior enlisted, and senior civilians. This robust and diverse participation from a broad range of fleet experts, was crucial for ensuring different perspectives and fleet experiences were represented.
A significant amount of planning and preparation was invested into the BoV. Beginning in February 2017 and leading up to the event, NSCS hosted weekly advisory group drumbeat sessions, each focusing on a different curriculum. The advisory group closely examined the training students are exposed to in the Basic Qualification Course (BQC), Supply Officer Department Head Course (SODHC), Senior Supply Officer Department Head Course (SR SODHC), Introduction to Expeditionary Logistics, and the Joint Aviation and Supply Maintenance Material Management course. After 11 drumbeat sessions in which 50 fleet advisory group members representing 14 agencies participated, a broad range of recommended enhancements to NSCS training were identified and prepared for presentation to the BoV.
The initial days of the BoV were dedicated to the advisory group’s closer examination of schoolhouse curricula and refinement of the previous session’s findings. The final two days focused on providing senior leadership with an overview of course training materials, as well as the presentation of the advisory group’s recommended training improvements. The principals group, comprised of 11 senior fleet and TYCOM Supply Corps captains, connected the recommended modifications to curricula and collectively addressed fleet trends and shared ideas about SUPPO pipeline training writ large.
One of the many highlights of the event was an open forum between the senior Supply Corps officers and BQC students. Students were able to ask questions and seek guidance on topics ranging from leadership challenges to the expectations of junior officers afloat. The students relished this opportunity to engage in open dialogue with seasoned officers representing many years of successful naval service.
The BoV culminated with 44 training improvements identified for further inclusion into curricula. The training enhancements varied from emphasizing current fleet trends to the creation of entirely new lesson topics. BoV members validated existing BQC, SODHC, and SR SODHC training on critical topics such as husbanding service provider and financial improvement and audit readiness, with only minor updates. Further, the proposal to create completely new training topics – such as the management of an afloat hazardous materials operation – was an agreed upon action to enhance BQC training.
The value such a forum brings is clear. Assembling fleet stakeholders together in an intimate environment to examine training improves the quality of students’ learning experiences, and by extension, fleet readiness; but the work is not finished. The advisory group will continue quarterly drumbeats to ensure the improvements to training are implemented. Working closely with fleet stakeholders and the Center for Service Support, NSCS will ensure that the new training actions are properly codified into course material. By gathering Supply Corps community leaders and increasing stakeholder engagement, a more robust examination of training requirements was executed, considerably enhancing training and, more importantly, significantly enhancing fleet readiness for years to come.