National Defense Transportation Association and United States Transportation Command’s fall meeting opened, October 31, bringing together military and industry leaders from across the globe to discuss current trends and logistics challenges.

Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, U.S. Transcom commander, delivered a keynote speech that addressed current threats to logistics, emphasized readiness and stressed the importance of creating decision advantage to successfully operate in a contested logistics environment.

“To remain effective in the future, we must adapt now while we have the opportunity to act,” Van Ovost said. “We must help leaders at all echelons preserve time and create better options — a decision advantage.”

Van Ovost cited teamwork between the military, commercial industry and our nation’s allies and partners as a critical piece to affecting change.

“The underlying might to accelerating change through the inflection point, is all of us,” she said. “By, with and through our commercial teammates, and allies and partners, we are underwriting the lethality of our combined forces.”

Continuing to stress the importance of collaborating, Van Ovost said, “Government and industry collaboration is needed to accelerate [change]. Our collaboration is at the heart of acceleration or stagnation – it’s the heart of whether we achieve a decision advantage.”

Van Ovost also highlighted the need for fleet recapitalization, noting the aging state of the U.S. government’s surge sealift ships, saying, “In ten years, more than 50% will reach their end of service life.”

Patient movement, the Joint Transportation Management System and Transcom’s new role as the Defense Department’s single manager for global bulk fuel were also key topics during the generals’ remarks encouraged innovation and new thinking at every opportunity.

Van Ovost said, “[That people with] innovative visions, passion to fulfill them and fearless dedication to win are the ones who will help us achieve the impossible.” She proceeded to recognize Mike Sacco, former president of the Seafarers International Union of North America.

“[Mike Sacco] is one of those people who has been critical to all of us in achieving the impossible,” Van Ovost said. “Mike is a true American Patriot…Thank you for being a terrific team player to Transcom, the [Joint Deployment Distribution Enterprise] and our nation.”

For his contributions, Van Ovost presented Sacco with the Pegasus Award, which honors individuals or groups as strong proponents of Transcom and its mission. Though he was unable to receive the award in person, the current SIU President, Dave Heindel, accepted it on Sacco’s behalf.

In closing, Van Ovost reiterated the words of Air Force Gen. CQ. Brown, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Our nation needs us ready to fight today’s battles while preparing for tomorrow’s war.” In these words, lay the essence of her message: A call for readiness, resilience and the critical role of trust in shaping a formidable defense posture.

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