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An Interview with Rear Adm. Pete Stamatopoulos

March 10, 2021
VIRIN: 210310-N-ZY219-0164

How relevant is NAVSUP and the Supply Corps today and into the future?

It is my privilege to have this interview with you and to discuss the important role the Navy Supply Corps plays in securing peace and prosperity in the 21st century. Having the honor to serve 32 years in Navy, Joint and Allied commands the world over, I can say with confidence that our Nation, Allies and Joint Force consider the U.S. Navy’s maritime logistics prowess to be a pillar of global stability and critical to assuring the commercial, political and military access we all rely upon. You have much to be proud of, for it’s through maritime logistics enablement that we achieve our national defense and security goals.

As the global security environment continues to shift and resources are constrained, Navy leadership has come to appreciate, more than ever, the value of the Naval Supply Systems Command’s (NAVSUP) global reach and the professional and technical expertise our Supply Corps and Enlisted community bring to the fight. We must never become complacent, and our contributions to Fleet readiness, sustaining the force, managing global supplier networks and taking care of Sailors and their families must always deliver results.

Logistics in the 21st Century is increasingly global and intensely competitive. It demands our very best leadership, engagement, and alignment from a whole-of-Navy approach. The Supply Corps and Naval Supply Systems Command are a powerful enabler for Navy and the Joint Force. Our presence is felt from the tactical edge in afloat and expeditionary units, across the operational level of war in Geographic and Naval Component Commands, and spans deep and broad throughout Navy readiness generation, supply chain, life cycle logistics and acquisition organizations. In a sense, we are the Navy’s neural-nodes for end-to-end supply chain performance and warfighting sustainment, bringing a unique blend of warfighting and business acumen to the table. Together, we have the most comprehensive view of maritime logistics. I only see our capability, capacity and brand getting stronger.

How did your previous experiences prepare you to serve as Commander, NAVSUP, and 49th Chief of Supply Corps?

I would have to say that it all began in the Navy Supply Corps School, which patterned a way of thinking around the essence of our motto “Ready for Sea”–which really describes our Supply Corps mission and culture of being totally focused on logistical support to the Fleet, and more recently the Joint Force. The meaning of “Ready for Sea” formed the foundation of my core commitment to the operating forces and the necessity for high standards, high performance and accountability. This, along with a growth mindset, served me well in a variety of experience tours in submarine, surface, and aviation units, expeditionary, operational logistics staffs, Type and Hardware Systems Commands, Numbered Fleets, OPNAV, and Joint Staffs.

Along the journey, I witnessed a sea of changes in technology, tactics, doctrine, policy, business practices, and profound changes in geopolitics, economy, technology, the operating environment and the precarious balance of regional and global power shifts. I took advantage of education, training and self-study whenever I could, and I learned the value of diversity, inclusion, integrity, competence, moral courage, teamwork, and the power of trust and confidence. Through all these experiential tours, I gained a much broader and outward focus. I learned to appreciate the forces of competition, the value and upward potential in “embracing the red”, the importance of hunting for leverage, respect we must have for one another, and respect we must have for change if we are to keep getting better.

Occasionally I’m asked if I like being the “Commander” of NAVSUP and “The Chief” of Supply Corps… I can honestly say that I didn’t set a course and speed for this destination; however, now that I arrived, I cannot imagine being in a better place. I’m where I want to be, doing exactly what the Navy has prepared me to do–to represent and lead the dedicated men and women of the Naval Supply Systems Command and Supply Corps, who continue to dedicate themselves to protecting our nation.

What are your priorities as Commander, NAVSUP, and 49th Chief of Supply Corps?

My priorities are simple and centered on winning. They can be distilled into four powerful words, which when unpacked and understood, will unlock an enormous amount of good for each of us, our Navy and the Joint Force – simply said they are Mission, Integrity, Agility and Excellence. This is really important, so let me explain.

Mission - it's all about the mission.

Together, NAVSUP and the Navy Supply Corps have many great missions to perform! We are Fleet-focused, global postured, relevant and always “Ready for Sea.” We conduct and enable supply chain management, acquisition sustainment and operational logistics activities with our mission partners to generate readiness and sustain naval forces worldwide to deter and win decisively. This is what I believe to be NAVSUP’s competitive advantage and the Supply Corps’ winning proposition.

Integrity - It's our Gold Standard.

Honest and trusted teams are a must for mission accomplishment. It is integral to great power competition and winning in the complex digital and disinformation environment, inherent in 21st Century hybrid warfare. I think of integrity as a dynamic and living entity; it grows or diminishes with every action you take, making it the most indispensable element in your professional life, and therefore, it must be preserved and protected at all costs. Integrity, as a value for the Supply Corps and NAVSUP, must be uncompromising.

Agility–Always learning, adapting, and teaching to advance the mission.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of how volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous the operating environment actually is. To survive and thrive in a competitive environment, winning once is not enough–to learn, focus, align, adapt, and advance. For example, Navy supply chains are large, complex, costly, untimely, and do not generate sufficient readiness. To meet these challenges head on requires our individual and collective agility in what I call “intelligent adaptation”–to build better, stronger and more resilient supply chains to enable us to win as the environment changes around us. Agility is never being complacent or embracing the status quo, rather, it is inviting of contrary views to advance our mission.

Excellence – unrivaled acquisition, supply chain, logistics and operational expertise to achieve mission success.

As Supply Corps Officers and NAVSUP employees, we must strive relentlessly for excellence. I value an open, transparent, and competitive environment where trust and “fearless communication” drives us to achieve our full potential by achieving mission success. Complacency and the status quo have no place because we are all about winning, getting to great and delivering high-impact results to our Navy, Joint and Allied mission partners.

Why is Navy implementing NSS-Supply, and what is the goal?

As Navy has worked together to drive improved readiness outcomes across the force, we’ve seen that our supply chains are not universally performing at the levels required to sustain the mission performance we demand. I saw a clear opportunity to close the gap to that standard.

To create the supply chain performance we need, it’s imperative that we align and manage supply chains differently, no longer accepting uncoordinated and fragmented decision making. To drive that outcome with a sense of urgency, I proposed a new design approach to VCNO called Naval Sustainment System – Supply (NSS-Supply) to drive end-to-end Navy supply chain reform. VCNO embraced the approach and announced the initiation of NSS-Supply on 19 Oct 20, which complements Navy’s broader NSS and Performance-to-Plan (P2P) focus.

To hold ourselves (Navy) accountable, we will measure ourselves using an enterprise Supply Effectiveness Figure of Merit (SeFOM), which will serve as our North Star goal. This metric will quantify the supply chain’s readiness value – a fundamental shift in evaluating our supply system. The SeFOM quantifies supply effectiveness through the value of readiness per dollar invested. We will use this measurement to drive smarter decision-making and better trade-offs when allocating resources.

VIRIN: 210310-N-XZ219-0353

Exactly what is Naval Sustainment System (NSS) and how does it differ from Performance-to-Plan (P2P)?

P2P is a top down continuous monitoring process and mindset to accelerate Navy performance improvement through data driven decision-making and the rigorous application of commonsense business insights and practices. Think of it as aligning operations, activities and investments necessary to realize the performance we plan, program and budget for. For example, P2P-Aviation and NSS-Aviation are being driven by Fleet metrics and the very specific ‘North Star’ metric of producing 341 Mission Capable FA-18 Rhinos.

Naval Sustainment System (NSS) is a bottom up combination of commercial best practices, process improvements, governance and oversight to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies within available means. Think of NSS-Aviation and the establishment of the Maintenance Operations Cell (MOC)/ Aircraft on Ground (AOG) cell to drive step change increases in operations, activities and processes. The NSS-Aviation worked hard to increase from 269 Mission Capable FA-18 Rhinos in 2017, to realize and maintain on average 341 MC Rhinos in 2020.

Both P2P and NSS rely on trust, transparency, data and “embracing the red”, hunting for leverage and output metrics that are linked to clear targets with strategic impact. They also rely on high performance teams that are dedicated to getting into the details, are forward looking and able to converge on a plan to drive greater readiness and affordability. NSS-Supply and P2P logistics must do the same.

How is NSS-Supply different from previous approaches to supply chain logistics?

NSS-Supply spans across the broader Navy to review upstream and downstream supply chain inputs that drive readiness, which is the overarching goal. While previous efforts have attempted to improve readiness, this approach is more holistic in improving Navy’s end-to-end supply chain effectiveness.

Who are the key participants of NSS-Supply?

The key participants of NSS-Supply are NAVSUP’s mission partners. These include, but are not limited to, OPNAV, FLEET, TYCOMs, NAVSEA, NAVAIR, NAVWAR, DLA and our commercial providers. As the supported command, our role requires us to look deep and broad into how we orchestrate, integrate, and synchronize supply chains within other TYCOM led P2P / NSS efforts, SYSCOMS, and organic and commercial repair activities.

Do you have any closing thoughts or comments?

Yes…over the years, some may recall hearing me say, “If you’re not teaching, you’re not learning.” So if this interview were a lesson, I would summarize as follows:

  • We are each charged to produce high-impact and measurable mission outcomes. In order to do so we must be aggressive, action-oriented, smart and courageous.
  • Don’t sit around and watch what happens, or worse, wonder what happens…be part of the larger team and get out there virtually (over MS Teams) or in person (wearing a mask/social distancing) and make things happen for mission success!
  • Winning is comparable and measurable. Be forward looking– establish clear target outcomes that have Fleet readiness impact – converge on a plan and EMBRACE THE RED!
  • Get into the details, data, find leverage, measure, elevate barriers and continuously assess if you’re “on plan” or “off-plan.” Always think Fleet “mission” before product lines & services.

I say again, we should never be complacent, nor should we embrace the status quo. Remember YOU and YOUR TEAMS are empowered to do your job, support the mission and to win!

Do Good

Do Right

Do What is Honorable.