The Official Newsletter of The National Defense Transportation Association

November 19, 2019

DOD Leaders Address Department Priorities, Great Power Competition

By Sharon Lo Managing Editor, Defense Transportation Journal and The Source

USTRANSCOM’s number one priority is warfighting readiness, said its Commander, General Stephen R. Lyons, USA. He described the command’s purpose, “to project and sustain military power globally at our time and place of choosing.” This ability is a strategic comparative advantage unparalleled by other nations. The strategic comparative advantage created is inextricably linked to USTRANSCOM’s industry partners.

Lyons’s comments were made during his keynote address on the third day of the NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting. The meeting took place October 7-10, 2019, at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.

The reemergence of great power competition has influenced Defense Department strategy and holds significant implications for the Joint Deployment Distribution Enterprise (JDDE). “The warfighting function of sustainment and logistics must be successful under persistent all-domain attack,” said Lyons.

Cyber was one domain that Lyons addressed. Adversaries have targeted commercial partner networks as a means of accessing and disrupting USTRANSCOM’s networks. The General identified specific areas of risk to commercial networks.

Lyons also briefly discussed several areas of interest to the Fall Meeting audience before taking questions. These topics included sealift recapitalization, improvements to household goods movements, aerial refueling, and digital modernization.

Lyons was not the only DOD senior leader to address the Fall Meeting audience. The Honorable Robert H. McMahon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, provided a keynote speech on the second day.

McMahon challenged the audience to think about the future—how will they think differently and how they will behave differently, as well as how they could help DOD think differently.

“We can only preserve peach if the enemy knows that we will prevail in war,” he asserted. The question then becomes how to prove we can prevail to the level necessary for deterrence.

DOD has relied largely on inputs for decision-making. They have added inputs together to drive toward a single solution. But, this model is no longer valid. What was done in the past is irrelevant in this era of great power competition.

Instead, he said, DOD needs to define what it wants to accomplish and work backward toward that goal. McMahon encouraged the audience to let their imaginations run wild on how to achieve these goals, not allowing past experiences to dictate future actions and innovations.

Regarding the future of transportation, McMahon said we must consider if we have the correct assets. Furthermore, we need to determine if those assets are resilient to threats, and if priorities and assets can be shifted.

Ideas once considered absurd, like having a small computer on your wrist, are common now. Thinking differently is what spurred those game-changing concepts and technologies then—and thinking differently is what will spur such innovations in the future as well.

The NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting was a grand celebration of NDTA’s 75 years of service, and we hope to continue the trajectory. We want to request a small favor in the form of a short testimonial from you on your experience as an NDTA member. The purpose of this is to give others a sense of the long-term relationship between industry and DOD that the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA) helps facilitate. We appreciate the value your testimonial would provide. When someone takes the time to recount a positive experience with an organization such as NDTA, it speaks volumes.

Testimonials from members are a valuable and powerful indicator of excellence and trust. We strive to provide such excellence, and as NDTA is celebrating our 75th year as an Association, you are part of that legacy. We are culminating with a drive to hear from you! We appreciate your time to capture the value of the relationship and specifically an issue you remember working through NDTA that resulted in the strengthened partnership. We would like to publish the testimonial, as well as a photo of you in both our newly updated NDTA website and social media sites. We have also created a hashtag (#NDTAMember) for you to use to include on your social media should you wish to. 

If you would like to read some of the testimonials we have received as of yet, visit our website testimonials. To share your experience with NDTA, please email the Director of Public Relations Kimberly Huth ( We request your response NLT December 31, 2020.

We sincerely appreciate you and look forward to working together to solve our Nation’s logistical challenges for many years to come.

FedEx Ground Using Virtual Reality to Train, Retain Workers
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United Airlines Puts Jet Lag to Rest with Timeshifter App Partnership
(United Airlines) United Airlines customers now have a new, scientific way to battle jet lag through a first-of-its-kind partnership with Timeshifter®, an app that outlines the best time to see and avoid light, sleep and enjoy caffeine to adjust quickly to a new time zone.

Truck Driving Safety and Truck Driving Parking Tips
(Tri-State Motor Transit) Commercial trucking is a great way to make a good living for yourself and your family, but it is not without risk. The good news is that trucking does not have to be a high-risk profession. Taking simple safety steps behind the wheel can go a long way toward keeping you and other motorists safe.

Government Executives on AI
(Deloitte) ​As government uses artificial intelligence more, how can the experiences of early adopters guide other public sector organizations?

AIT Worldwide Logistics Debuts Enhancements to Online Tracking
(AIT Worldwide) Transportation management leader, AIT Worldwide Logistics, recently unveiled several improvements to FasTrak, one of its two online tracking systems. “Not only is FasTrak quicker than ever, users can now call up their shipment information within a more modern interface that looks and works great on any mobile device,” said AIT’s Vice President Information Systems, Chris McMillin.

U.S. Postpones Military Exercises with South Korea in Nod Toward North Korea
(Politico) The United States and South Korea have indefinitely postponed a joint military exercise in an “act of goodwill” toward North Korea, according to US Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The move comes even as Japan’s defense minister, whose country feels threatened by repeated North Korean missile launches, told Esper “no one could be optimistic about” changing the North’s behavior.

Mobile Nuclear Power Will Enable a Logistics Revolution for the Army
(War on the Rocks) Future adversaries will certainly concentrate their attacks on fuel supplies as they know that America’s military needs energy to fight effectively. And this energy demand will only grow.

China and US Had ‘Constructive Discussions’ About Phase-One Trade Deal, State Media Says
(CNBC) Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about a phase-one trade deal in a phone call Saturday morning, according to Chinese state media. The two sides had “constructive discussions” about “each other’s core concerns.”

Congress Hunts for Path Out of Spending Stalemate
(The Hill) Top negotiators are set to meet this week to try to break a stalemate over funding the government. Congress has until Nov. 21 to prevent the second shutdown of the year after a 35-day partial closure that ended in February.

‘This Could Get a Little Ugly.’ What to Watch for at the NATO Leaders Summit
(Defense News) When the leaders of the 29 NATO nations gather in London at the start of December, the focus will nominally be on a celebration of the past and a look to the future. But analysts agree that as much as the event is billed as NATO’s 70th birthday, politics could make the situation feel more like a funeral.

Is College Worth It? A Georgetown Study Measures Return on Investment — with Some Surprising Results
(The Washington Post) Is college worth it? Researchers at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce tried to answer that question. Forty years after enrollment, bachelor’s degrees from private colleges have the highest returns on investment. The only two public schools to make that top 10 list are maritime academies.

Should Ships Have Speed Limits?
(Popular Mechanics) This week, officials from the UN will meet to hear proposals to cut shipping industry emissions by introducing speed limits. Some within the industry disagree with the idea of speed limits, but all are united to reduce emissions—they just disagree on how best to do that.

Automation and Technology Could Help Cull the Driver Shortage Next Decade
(FleetOwner) Can self-driving trucks attract more drivers into the industry? That’s the argument of some trucking technology companies as they continue to work toward high levels of automation in freight transport.

The 2019 Top 50 Global Freight Carriers: Growth Continues Despite Trade Tensions
(Transport Topics) The majority of the world’s largest freight carriers expanded their businesses last year as they continued to enjoy strong demand in many key markets, despite an ongoing realignment of international trade agreements.

Rail Industry Sees a Window of Opportunity Amidst Challenges for Over-the-Road Shipping
(Forbes) Demand for rail freight will continue to rise due to increased road congestion, making rail a key enabler for driving a competitive advantage within the supply chain. Yet several major barriers and imbalances exist in the rail transportation network that continue to challenge shippers, carriers, and investors alike.

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