BY CAPT. ROBERT WILLIAMS, SC, USN, CORPORATE OPERATIONS; LT. CMDR. DAN O’BRIEN, SC, USN AND LT. CMDR. ALBERT SONON, SC, USN, COMMANDER’S ACTION GROUP NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEMS COMMAND
The 2017 Navy Supply Corps Senior Leadership Symposium was held in Leesburg, Virginia, Nov. 15-17. More than 200 senior leaders participated in this year’s event, including active and Reserve flag officers, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) senior executive service members, captains, and captain selects. The objective was to share perspectives from leaders across the naval supply community, focusing on NAVSUP priorities, professional competency, and improving warfighter support.
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The 2017 Navy Supply Corps Leadership Symposium Attendees
NAVSUP Commander and Chief of Supply Corps Rear Adm. Jonathan A. Yuen welcomed the attendees, and reminded the group about his philosophy that “good ideas come from everywhere; not just anywhere, but everywhere.” This year’s themes–Setting the Strategic Stage, The Changing Environment, and Mentorship–covered a wide variety of topics designed to bolster the camaraderie of the Supply Corps and chart the course for the future. Yuen emphasized the importance of character, competence and commitment to those who wear the oak leaf, regardless of their duty station. He summed up his message of oneness by reiterating, “It doesn’t matter what color name tag you wear, we are here to support the Navy and Joint warfighter.”
In remarks to the captain selects, Yuen discussed their role as “vice presidents” of the Supply Corps. When he asked the group to describe an attribute of a great leader using one word, every response, though varied, focused on character. Yuen stressed that while character is very important, it is not enough. Character leaves an everlasting impression on your team and inspires those who are led, but competency is also critical at the senior officer level.
Setting the Strategic Stage
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations Logistics Programs and Business Operations (OPNAV N41) Director Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos provided a brief on Supply Corps community values, emphasizing senior leadership’s role in growing future leaders of the corps. NAVSUP Vice Commander Michael Madden reminded the attendees of the importance of their leadership to help shape the NAVSUP Enterprise as we continue our reform efforts.
NAVSUP representatives discussed NAVSUP Global Logistics Support re-alignment, and how NAVSUP headquarters will have a more active role in fleet operational and tactical missions. NAVSUP will have direct oversight of the eight NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Centers (FLCs), and each activity will become an Echelon III command. NAVSUP Ammunition and NAVSUP Energy will be realigned as officers-in-charge reporting directly to NAVSUP headquarters.
NAVSUP Judge Advocate General provided a brief regarding ethics and legal matters relevant to the Supply Corps. NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support communicated the value proposition of NAVSUP being the translater of Navy requirements. Stamatopoulos then finished the day by discussing the budget process from the OPNAV perspective.
The Changing Environment
Day two opened with briefs from various logistics support agencies and three overseas NAVSUP FLC commanding officers. Attendees from Defense Logistics Agency and Defense Contract Management Agency discussed how their commands support the warfighter, and how they fit within the logistics sustainment process. Each activity’s unique role in supporting the warfighter complements the others, ensuring requirements are satisfied to meet mission objectives. The NAVSUP FLC commanding officers each gave an environmental scan on issues affecting their areas of responsibility, and how their commands are aligned to support the warfighters in these dynamic times.
Fleet supply officers also shared their perspectives and roles as the logistics leaders within their respective areas of responsibility. Each described the importance of knowing the business and how the logistics and operational dynamics have changed over time. United States Pacific Fleet Logistics, Fleet Supply and Ordnance (N4) Director Rear Adm. John Palmer and U.S. Fleet Forces Command Fleet Ordnance and Supply/Fleet Supply Officer (N41) Director Rear Adm. Jack Moreau discussed how their roles differed, but still focused on customer requirements. Importantly, they noted that fighting in the Pacific Fleet has a completely different set of rules than fighting in the Atlantic Fleet. As the Supply Corps, we need to understand this nuance and what our customers need to win the fight.
The final day featured retired Vice Adm. Keith Lippert, who shared his perspective of mentorship throughout his career, spanning both his military service and his private sector work. He stated that you don’t need a formal mentoring program to make it work. Every individual should find someone he or she respects and feels comfortable discussing personal and professional concerns with.
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Rear Adm. Jonathan Yuen addressed leadership about working together as one.
This was followed by a Training with Industry (TWI) overview brief by four recent program alumni. The TWI program partners with The Home Depot®, Starbucks Coffee Company®, FedEx®, and ExxonMobil™. Each briefer provided their perspectives on the program, what value they derived from the work they did, and how both the Navy and the companies benefited from the experience.
The symposium provided an opportunity for attendees to rethink business as usual, and to look at reform and how we can do things differently in the Supply Corps. Yuen stated, “We are operating in a dynamic and uncertain environment that requires operational readiness at a moment’s notice. And through all of this, we must be readiness generators.”
Yuen expressed that all Supply Corps officers must remember they are naval officers first, and it is imperative to understand their role in the fight. The Supply Corps, one of eight Navy staff corps, stands shoulder-toshoulder with warfighters. It is critical, Yuen noted, for our community to get involved early, understand the requirements, and provide the necessary support because our efforts are critical for logistics sustainment.