BY JILL BOLDEN, SUPPLY CORPS ASSISTANT CAREER COUNSELOR
AND LT. JORDAN STEPHENS, SC, USN, ACCESSIONS OFFICER
On any given day, the Office of Supply Corps Personnel (OP) in Millington, Tennessee is a bustle of activity – the constant ringing of telephones, the frenzied typing of new orders, the noticeable pacing of detailers across the room connected to their headsets in earnest negotiation. Each event is a small reminder that every detail matters. For anyone who may be unfamiliar with the intricacies of the detailing process, the OP environment may certainly seem chaotic. Cmdr. Chris Newell, the “pit boss,” explains the often hectic balancing act of life as a detailer. “You learn to appreciate the dynamic nature of this job. We have to adapt and adjust to whatever comes our way, because we know that the fleet depends on it. We have jobs that need to be filled, ones that sustain our ships and our operational units. The fleet owns these jobs; we identify and manage the human capital, the assets to properly fill these jobs.”
Manning the Fleet
Through constant communication and transparency with constituents, the detailing team at OP tackles every morning the same – head on. The pit boss (O4 detailer), together with the lieutenant (Lt.) operational, Lt. shore, and ensign detailers plan, advise, negotiate, and assign orders with the dual aim of finding a solution that optimizes fleet effectiveness and recognizes individual personal needs and career desires. From the detailing perspective, it is important to emphasize that from the first operational assignment after graduating Basic Qualification Course, to the first shore assignment, through every step of a junior officer’s career, the importance of officer development and strategic personnel management are essential components to the effective “manning” of the fleet. There exists a shared responsibility and a mutual understanding between officers and detailers when it comes to meeting the needs of our Navy’s operational units. The detailing team relies on open and honest conversations with their constituents to fill billets that align with their prospective career ambitions and personal needs. “It is OP’s job to support the warfighter by providing technically proficient, appropriately assigned, experienced logisticians,” Lt. Operational Detailer Lt. Cmdr. Mike Augustine explained. “We have to be trusted advocates for our constituents in order to achieve that objective.” As a junior officer, in the ranks of O-1 to O-4, understanding the positions in the “pit” will only serve to help you as you plan your next career move.
Career Engagement and Education
Members of the Officer Plans Division (P3) sit outside the “pit”. Here, the Supply Corps active duty career counselor, assistant career counselor, Reserve career counselor, and accessions officer work together to provide constituents the most up-to-date community information, administer pertinent records maintenance and general queries, and help counsel and advise officers as they consider a career in the Supply Corps. The P3 team also administers the eSUPPO mobile application, OP monthly report, Navy Supply Corps Officers Directory, Training With Industry Program, Personnel Exchange Program, and plays a critical role in constructing the Supply Corps Roadshow messaging and presentation. As you might imagine, the diversity of experience in our community makes tailoring individual advice challenging. Each officer is unique with circumstances and situations that require thoughtful scrutiny and response. An officer’s personal needs and desires, concurrent with published community-valued milestones, serve as the foundation for career guidance and counsel provided by the P3 team. As officers begin to shape their careers and develop valued Supply Corps skillsets, it is important to understand the many options that exist in our community and how they can build the proficiency and competency necessary for promotion. Active Duty Supply Corps Career Counselor Lt. Cmdr. Kirk Engler stresses the idea that “focus and subject matter expertise are required to create the fully functional specialists we need to meet the demands of the operational environment. It is our job to let our officers know what’s out there for them.”
The office of the Supply Corps officer community manager (OCM) is located in a separate building as part of the Community Management Command (BUPERS-3). The OCM, Cmdr. Cielo Almanza, and his deputy Beth Schudel, are primarily responsible for managing the Supply Corps officer inventory and billet structure. The health of our community depends on a strategic approach to create (accessions), develop (manage), and promote our officers. Not unlike a supply chain management process, the OCM ensures that there is a sufficient inventory of officers at the correct pay grade and skillset to meet the Navy’s requirements. The proper development and protection of human capital inventory allows for a more effective distribution of our officers across the globe, and provides our community with the necessary tools needed to win the fight. Though the BUPERS-3 team and PERS 4412 (OP) are separate organizations with unique and specific missions, they are equally critical to the successful management of Navy’s human resources.
Building Future Leaders
Managing personnel and creating a foundation for future operational success means much more to the OP team than filling an open billet or assignment. We must ensure the Supply Corps is smartly developing the next generation of leaders for the community, experts who are able to step into the most challenging assignments and not only be successful but significantly improve the organization. It is the aim of OP to educate, inform, and encourage officers regarding their careers as they progress through the ranks. Certain community-valued experience, achievements and milestones remain fundamental pillars for shaping any successful Supply Corps career. Understanding these valued achievements and striving for sustained superior performance will serve to benefit not only each individual officer, but our community as a whole. Keep your options open, inform yourself of all that is available to you, and call your detailers early and often!