FORT LEE, VA, UNITED STATES
Story by Onyx Taylor-Catterson
FORT LEE, Va. (Dec. 16, 2021) – Recapping a busy year that included support of the Afghan evacuation mission and the first steps toward potentially renaming Fort Lee, the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command conducted a town hall for CASCOM personnel at Larkin Hall, Dec. 13.
Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, and CASCOM’s senior leadership team hosted the session in which many participated virtually and in-person attendance was limited to 50 individuals. It was the first town hall for him since taking command on July 9 of this year.
Presenters used a year-in-review video to set the stage for the discussion. Many of the images shown in the running photomontage depicted the foremost event of the year – the 120-day mission of providing basic life support needs for Afghan evacuees while they completed processing for resettlement into the U.S.
Fort Lee was the first installation tapped by the Department of Defense – through U.S. Northern Command and in support of the departments of State and Homeland Security – to engage in the mission initially titled Operation Allies Refuge and later redubbed as Operation Allies Welcome.
“[We] really wrote the book for the rest of the Army, the rest of the DoD, as we began the mission and it migrated to other places,” Simerly later briefed. “Essentially, we led the effort throughout, being the first to accomplish many things including the first to close it out in a responsible manner.”
A recap slide shown at the town hall painted the broad picture – the standup of Task Force Eagle over two-weeks at the end of July; synchronization of four government departments, five military branches and five non-governmental organizations, receipt and delivery of over 200 pallets of donations, and 3,108 Afghans received, processed and onward moved from Fort Lee.
Other achievements would certainly pale in comparison to OAR/OAW, but they did not seem the least bit diminished as Simerly proudly laid them out for the audience. He highlighted the Army Logistics University’s success in redesigning the basic officer leadership course and creating a blended NCO common core program of instruction.
Simerly noted how Col. Clydea Prichard-Brown, commander of the 59th Ordnance Brigade, has gained DoD and Army recognition for the Female Mentoring and Morale Program she created.
He commended the Quartermaster Corps’ efforts in spearheading advancements in food modernization including the rollout of Outpost food trucks and establishing information kiosks and credit card machines in “Warrior Restaurants” (vice dining facilities) across the Army. The QM team also published a series of “how-to-handbooks” for distribution to the force.
Continuing on, the commanding general turned his attention to the Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and the achievement of publishing FM 1-0, the flagship doctrine for all fundamental principles and concepts for Army Human Resources Support doctrine.
The Transportation Corps received a nod for opening the Transportation Pavilion at Fort Lee and making improvements to the common tactical truck documents and Leader-Follower operational testing.
U.S. Army Garrison Fort Lee not only played a pivotal role in facilitating OAF/OAW functions, but also tackled the monumentally important work of gathering requested data for the DoD Naming Commission. Furthermore, in an effort to foster and grow partnerships with the local community, the team implemented the Good Neighbor Program, which provides an opportunity to recognize those who champion local community support of military personnel and their families.
Summing up the major contributions of the organization as a whole, Simerly noted how the CASCOM G-3/5/7 team published nine doctrinal publications and, working with Kenner Army Health Clinic, efficiently executed COVID-19 vaccine distribution among the installation’s military population.
The commander also took a moment to look ahead as he presented the CASCOM22 campaign plan that identifies three major “lines of effort:” People, Develop Sustainment Professionals and Modernization. From those, 13 objectives will serve as building blocks to achieve the desired end state of positioning CASCOM to be a “cross-functionally integrated, People first organization operating in a collaborative manner to accomplish directed requirements while setting the stage for future sustainment force modernization and training.”
The foundational documents for the CASCOM22 plan is Army TRADOC Campaign Plan 3.0 and the Army Strategic Planning System.
The CASCOM22 campaign plan is the road map for a mission to “train, educate and develop adaptive Sustainment professionals for the total force while generating, synchronizing and integrating innovative Army and Joint Sustainment capabilities, concepts and doctrine to sustain LSCO in a Multi-Domain Operation environment and enable the Waypoint Force through FY-22 activities and events.”
“This is a people first organization,” said Simerly. “We will always lead with people in our efforts. That’s the foundation of the Army. It’s the foundation of who we are and what we do.”
In the final question and answer segment of the Town Hall, Simerly solicited staff feedback to both in-person and virtual attendees. One popular topic was an update pertaining to CASCOM’s new telework policy. Deputy to the Commanding General Scott McConnell explained that the policy is being developed and he appreciates the teams’ patience. Other questions focused on holiday block leave, COVID-19 protocols, the Naming Commission, Lee Gate and housing renovations.
Simerly emphasized that CASCOM team members don’t have to wait for a town hall to ask questions or offer suggestions or recommendations about the organization. His preference is for individuals to “speak up sooner, rather than later.”
“Surveys are one way to communicate,” he said, “but there’s a whole host of other ways, to include the most direct ones – email, phone call or a visit to my office using the open door policy or the access afforded to leaders in this room.”
In closing, the commanding general said he wants all staff members to assist in building and being a part of a positive command climate.
“What does a positive command climate mean?” Simerly posed. “It’s a workplace or an organizational unit where people are all treated with dignity and respect all the time. It’s not too much to ask or to expect. [It’s an environment] where people feel safe; where people are developed to the fullest potential; where people are challenged to achieve excellence, and they hold themselves accountable in [those pursuits] and help others to achieve excellence. It’s where leaders consistently [apply the principles] of discipline.”
The next CASCOM staff town hall is set for March 15, 2022.
CASCOM is one of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s major subordinate commands that provides training and education for Sustainment professionals, both military and Department of Army civilians at all leadership levels, develops and implements capabilities, concepts, and doctrine, and executes functional proponency to enable the Army’s Sustainment Warfighting Function.
For more information, visit https://cascom.army.mil or https://www.facebook.com/USACASCOM.