By Cmdr. Jeremy Rollins, Operations and Planning OIC, USTRANSCOM CVOID-19 Response Cell
United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) faced uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country. The unwavering commitment to provide unrestricted customer support while maximizing telework, tracing/tracking member’s sicknesses, and updating/developing pandemic response plans was the foundation from which USTRANSCOM operated.
The Navy’s Reserve force, particularly the Supply Corps, played a key role in providing support to USTRANSCOM over the last several months. In March, Cmdr. Eric Chitwood was asked to join an operations planning team (OPT) with the primary mission of developing courses of action that would give USTRANSCOM options to deter and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise. Members of various backgrounds and experience, including subject matter experts and representatives of the various Joint directorates within the organization comprised the OPT. Grateful for the valuable lessons that OPT participation provided, Chitwood stated: “How the COAs were vetted through the process of war gaming provided to me a valuable learning experience that I will be able to draw upon in future situations.”
In April, Cmdr. Jeremy Rollins was asked to join USTRANSCOM’s COVID-19 Response Cell (TSHRC). The TSHRC was tasked with mitigating the COVID-19 threat by protecting the USTRANSCOM workforce to ensure uninterrupted support to the global mobility mission. Its purpose was to lead planning and response of force health protection measures for USTRANSCOM and Surface Deployment and Distribution Command headquarters personnel assigned to Scott Air Force Base and serve as central coordination point with external agencies and entities for COVID-19 related matters.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to work in a cross-functional, Joint service environment solving critical issues affecting our traditional workplace model,” said Rollins. “The team reacted quickly to meet telework guidelines, and medical tracing procedures. Shortly thereafter, we engaged in a variety of operational planning to support future plans.”
Both Rollins and Chitwood were impressed with the adaptive workforce and operational focus at USTRANSCOM in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The current pandemic is unlike the traditional adversary that the command was accustomed to fighting against, yet USTRANSCOM was up to the task of developing plans to 1) support and protect the local workforce, and 2) provide critical support to the global warfighter.
NOTE: Cmdr. Eric Chitwood is a member of the Joint Transportation Reserve Unit, a component of USTRANCOM. Cmdr. Jeremy Rollins is a member of DFAS Columbus Reserve Unit 209.