We would like to express our sincere appreciation to our volunteers, attendees, program participants, exhibitors, and sponsors for helping to make the 64th Annual NDTA Forum and Expo such a success!
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As a long time supporter and admirer of the National Defense Transportation Association, I congratulate everyone involved in putting together yet another great national conference this year. National Harbor was a particularly good place to have the event, given its proximity to the government and clear visuals of the importance of waterways, highways, railways, and airways. The excellent presentations and discussions, as well as the participation of professionals from every part of the transportation enterprise--in its broadest sense--and from around the world, reflect the relevance and importance of the work pursued and accomplished by transportation professionals. 1 also would like to offer my compliments to Deputy Secretary Porcari for his valuable insights at NDTA and the great support the Department of Transportation provides to our nation and our service members in harm's way every day.
Amongst all the strengths of our nation, our transportation and logistics professionals-are true strategic assets. Our nation and the world are both better and safer as a result of your dedication and many accomplishments. NDTA is a key partner in our community and enabler of enhanced national security. The hard work and great sacrifices of many NDTA members and organizations are critical enablers of our operations--and the preservation of service members' lives as well as fueling the engines of our national prosperity and continuing the promise of our nations future.
With the privilege of writing this article, I also want to specifically congratulate my friend and colleague LTG Chris Christianson for the great remarks he offered at the opening day's plenary session at this year's conference. (Editor's note: if you did not get to hear his great talk, it is available on the NDTA website and reprinted in the magazine on pages 25-27.) As always, Chris offered up an important and achievable vision for all of us. He not only outlined the challenges of the future, but also provided important and provocative ideas on how we individually and collectively can, and must, build stronger and better capabilities to provide safety, security, stability, agility, capability, and adaptability in the challenging environment we will inevitably face in the years ahead. Americans have a proven history of being able to leverage our agility to advantage in periods of dynamic change. We have a great opportunity to do this once again in the times ahead--our ability to progress demands a strategic mindset.
I would like to offer a few ideas based on the concepts Chris outlined as to how NDTA and members can help us collectively move forward toward the vision he and many of the other distinguished speakers articulated at the conference. I believe there are several actions that we can take both as organizations and individuals over the short- to mid-term to improve our ability to support our nation. I am always impressed with the resourcefulness, initiative and can-do spirit of NDTA and its members and hope to encourage us all o take advantage of the opportunity to meet the challenges we will face.
I believe we need to look for and develop solutions to our transportation, distribution, and supply chain challenges that address impact across the entire enterprise. It does us little good, and can even do harm to our overall effectiveness, to work on problems in isolation that do not work to eliminate stovepipes. We all know this intuitively, and our commercial partners are continually making great strides to streamline their operations and offer improvements that provide better performance at reduced cost. The Department of Defense needs to be better at analytically and operationally understanding the value and supply chains with a view toward performance and cost. We need to better invest in and apply RDT&E knowledge and leverage both the advanced technologies that are producing benefits and the organizational, cultural, and process changes that enable these advances to improve effectiveness and efficiency. The government and the commercial sectors need to work together closely in collaboration across the entire supply chain.
On the government side we need to be better customers--in two ways. First, we need to make sure we clearly articulate our requirements and work together with industry to ensure that we are communicating with one another. Making sure our intentions are transparent to all support providers, both government and commercial, and listening to their ideas on how we can get the best possible service at the lowest cost just makes sense. The second way we need to be better customers is to be demanding of our support providers--both government and commercial. Once we have articulated our requirements, we need to make sure we receive the service we have requested--that is our job and our obligation.
The entire logistics community needs to work together to look at the best solutions over the total system or operational cost--we need to understand and look at the long-term costs of decisions we make. There will always be times when immediate operational requirements call for making trade-offs between the short and long term, but these must always be consciously and carefully considered. Global risk management demands that we look at the big picture across both space and time; as is obvious to all, we do not live or operate in a world of unconstrained resources.
The leaders of the "system"--public and private--should take this opportunity in America's present moment to engage in meaningful public conversation about strategic transportation, logistics, ports, and distribution improvements as well as workforce development and investment in our professionals that will ensure our national vibrancy and strategic relevance.
The leaders of the NDTA community have an opportunity to commit themselves to the development of the future generations of leadership for our community. As LTG Christianson highlighted in his remarks, the environment that out nation will face in the years ahead will require not only great leadership, but also creative, flexible, adaptive, and holistic approaches to both responding to challenges and building the capabilities that ensure our security in the years ahead. Attracting, developing, and retaining the young men and women that will grow to meet these challenges is our most important responsibility. As the President of National Defense University I am so impressed with the talent, dedication, and enthusiasm of the men and women I see every day on our campus who will lead our nation in the years ahead. I am also deeply aware of the magnitude of the tasks that will be set before them. I know they are up to the challenges ahead, but we must do everything we can to help them prepare themselves.
We need your candid feedback and involvement in organizations such as NDTA--your voice and views are invaluable. We need to leverage your experience--many of you have held key leadership positions within our community. We need you to talk and write and advocate; there is great value in the public discourse itself. Above all, we need to continuously build a sense of community among ourselves; as Chris noted, developing common outcomes that we all agree to is the key to making significant improvements and responding to the admittedly daunting challenges that face us.
Again, congratulations to NDTA for its continued service to the engine of our nation and for all that it does in support of our military.
Vice Admiral Ann E. Rondeau, USN
President, National Defense University
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the US Government.
The 64th NDTA Annual Logistics and Transportation Forum & Expo got underway on September 18 with an impressive display. The Honor Guard from Washington, DC, Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department paraded "Colors," and a surprise appearance was made by General George Washington (a.k.a. LTG Kenneth Wykle, USA Ret.) and a retinue of Secret Service Agents. The Honorable John D. Porcari, Deputy Secretary, US DOT, and LTG Claude Christianson, USA (Ret.), Director, Center for Joint & Strategic Logistics National Defense University were on hand to deliver opening remarks to a record-breaking crowd of more than 1500 Forum attendees to the Gaylord National Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.
WE'VE GOT THE TIGER BY THE TAIL Integrated Solutions from the DOT
The Honorable John D. Porcari
Deputy Secretary, US DOT
The Honorable John D. Porcari, Deputy Secretary, US Department of Transportation (DOT), paid tribute to the troops in opening remarks. "They keep us safe, and they keep goods and people moving freely," he said. The Deputy Secretary also thanked NDTA members for their dedicated service on behalf of Secretary of Transportation, Raymond LaHood, for shouldering duties of transportation and logistics in support of the warfighter.
Porcari continued, noting that the DOT and NDTA have much in common. Both see the country's infrastructure as a means to safeguard our Nation's economy and security. Both recognize that an integrated transportation system is a vital element in supplying the warfighter, and both see the challenge in balancing improvements, budgets, and repairs to stay on track. Supply chain solutions that are inter-modal and that are interconnected would ensure what's...