By Lt. Alexis Travis, Food Service Instructor, Navy Supply Corps School
On Jan. 17, Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS) had the honor of hosting Rear Adm. Paul Verrastro, director of Logistics, U.S. European Command; Rear Adm. Chip Chase, liaison, Fleet Supply, Logistics and Ordnance, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet; Rear Adm. Kevin Jones, commander, Defense Logistics Agency Distribution; and Mr. Kurt Wendelken, SES, assistant commander for Supply Chain Technology and Systems Integration, NAVSUP, for a roundtable.
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Piloting the first phase of NSCS’ Modernized Training Delivery Initiative, nearly 150 officers followed along on iPads as leaders explained effects of great power competition and how the current geo-political environment impacts Europe & Africa’s dynamic logistics landscape. Left to right: Rear Adm. Paul Verrastro, Rear Adm. Chip Chase, Rear Adm. Kevin Jones, SES Mr. Kurt Wendelken –photo by Lt. Stephen Astafan
With more than 100 junior officers in attendance, the panel discussed topics ranging from European and African deterrence to community advice. The method of delivery is what made this roundtable different, for the first time at NSCS, everyone in the room had an iPad.
This may seem simple, but it’s a milestone for the schoolhouse.
“We’ve always done things one of two ways; we either printed dozens or even hundreds of pages, or we would stare at a static projection. Now, we’ve found the middle ground that lets people engage with the material and the brief simultaneously,” explained Capt. Nick Rapley, commanding officer of NSCS.
Most impressive of all, the bill for establishing the new mobile device program was zero dollars.
“A few months ago we were idly chatting with another command on base who jokingly asked if we, as supply officers (SUPPOs), would help them dispose of their old iPads,” said Basic Qualifications Course Instructor, Lt. Adam Johnson. “We saw an opportunity to start something new at the command.”
This kind of innovation has become the norm at NSCS and aligns the school with the Chief of Naval Operation’s initiatives for training.
Clear communication is one of the hurdles the schoolhouse has encountered. Although “supply” is a local dialect at NSCS, speaking technology doesn’t come as naturally. “We may all hear the same words,” Rear Adm. Verrastro explained during the brief, “but it doesn’t mean we’re all hearing the same message.”
Rear Adm. Verrastro was referencing speaking supply to other communities, but his point also stands for the mobile device program.
It’s with the help of leaders and subject matter experts like Mr. Wendelken, that NSCS has been able to make real progress on new ideas that will pay dividends in the future.
“You give your fellow warfighters options by finding ethical ways to get to yes,” said Mr. Wendelken about the role of SUPPOs in the fleet, adding later that this includes people in his position supporting the innovation and ideas of subordinate commands.
“This is supply, we stick together. There is always a lifeline,” commented Rear Adm. Chase.
Nowhere is that more relevant than at NSCS, with diverse staff and reach to nearly every command the Navy has, the answers are here.
The other benefit to the schoolhouse has been supportive leadership identifying what questions to ask and what barriers to tackle. With support from the Center for Service Support (CSS), NSCS’s immediate superior in command, the schoolhouse is looking ahead at new ideas. We are taking this opportunity to get creative and fall forward as we provide better learning environments for our students.
During the brief, Rear Adm. Jones gave advice to ensigns currently assigned to the schoolhouse.
“What you as logisticians have to bring to your boss is options.”
The mobile device initiative is doing just that for NSCS.
We are logisticians and we offer options. We are at the beginning of a new way of communicating with our students and graduates so that the fleet is ready to fight, ready to sustain, and Ready for Sea.