LTG Hertling's remarks at the 2012 U.S. Army Europe/Installation Command-Europe Combined Logistics Awards Ceremony
March 8, 2011
By Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, U.S. Army Europe Commanding General
I’d like to start by sharing a quote from a letter Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, sent to his headquarters during the Napoleonic Wars.
It demonstrates the way operational commanders sometimes think when it comes to accountability of supplies during war:
“I received your request to send a detailed inventory of supplies back to London.
“I have dispatched my reports on the character, wit, and ill-temper of every officer. Each item and every coin has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your forgiveness.
“Unfortunately there is one shilling and ninepence missing and there has been a hideous confusion to the number of jars of raspberry jam issued during a sandstorm in western Spain.
“This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are at war with France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in London.
“I request clarification of my instructions so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I interpret that it must be one of two reasons:
“1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London.
“2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.
I shall pursue either one with the best of my ability, but please understand, I cannot do both.”
You see, the Duke of Wellington was a bit of a smartass.
But his quote represents what many of our commanders have been telling many of our logisticians for the last 10 years of conflict: “I can fight a war or I can keep accurate accountability of my equipment – but I can’t do both.”
That has resulted in some huge problems.
We have got to change that. And I’m depending on the logisticians to help the commanders fix those problems.
Those in this group have already started to solve the problems, and you have shown excellence in doing so!
We have a couple of challenges, and I’m asking everyone in this room -- who have already proven how good you are – to recruit as many people as you can to help our Army address these challenges.
Our Army – and our nation! – needs us to account for what we have, to properly use what we’ve been given, and not to ask for more than we need!
With your help, we have already made significant progress in each of these areas.
For example, Task Force Harvest. Many of you participated in this effort to turn in and redistribute excess property.
So far in Fiscal Year 12, Task Force Harvest has reclaimed and redistributed to those units who need it over 3,000 pieces of equipment valued at $25 million. That’s in addition to last year’s total of 29,000 pieces of equipment valued at over $117 million.
The Unit Maintained Equipment (UME) pilot program is a new initiative that our great 12th Combat Aviation Brigade is implementing before their upcoming deployment.
12th CAB’s rear detachment is going to keep and maintain non-deploying vehicles, rather than turn them in under the Left Behind Equipment (LBE) program. This small initiative is expected to save over $5 million in maintenance costs by having all maintenance and services conducted by Soldiers rather than contractors.
There’s a training aspect to this, too, as the program will help improve mechanic and operator proficiency, supporting our “Soldier Core Competencies Initiative.”
These are just two things which contributed to USAREUR returning $74 million to the Department of the Army last year.
That’s $74 million that we gave back – unheard of in my career. No one else is turning in that kind of money.
But we can do more.
We’re using the USAREUR Campaign Plan -- specifically Line of Effort 3, Objective 3.2 (Ensure Efficient and Effective Use of Resources) to look at ways to improve the way we man, equip and sustain the force.
People in this room will be the biggest help in that initiative – the Soldiers and civilians that run our maintenance, supply and distribution facilities -- but also those logisticians in our hospitals, clinics and garrison support offices, and the company- and battalion-level logisticians supporting our key theater enablers.
This is a team sport, and each of you is the most valuable players on the team!
Look deeper inside your organizations and find ways to eliminate “wants” and replace them with “needs.”
Focus on processes – contracting for services, requests for support and ordering supplies – and find ways to do it better and cheaper.
Assess your daily operations to find ways of reducing redundancy and improving efficiency.
And most importantly, share your successes, failures and good ideas with your teammates.
Changing a culture is never easy. So a smart guy – that’s me – has to ask help from those who are already proven winners. That’s you!
Our Army’s going to be OK during these tough economic times, because we have smart folks like you helping change a culture of spending.
But right now, we have a lot of awards to present.
Congratulations – up front – to all the winners!
Strong Soldiers, Strong Teams!