Warfighting By, With, & Through Our Ports

Jun 16, 2020 | DTJ Online

“This is a warfighting forum,” said MG Stephen Farmen, USA, Commanding General of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC). “If we go to war, we’re going to fight by, with, and through our strategic seaports.”

His comments came during closing remarks at the 2019 Conference on America’s Ports, presented by NDTA and Christopher Newport University’s (CNU) Center for American Studies and in conjunction with SDDC, the US Maritime Administration (MARAD), and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). The event was held on the CNU campus in Newport News, Virginia, April 30-May 2, 2019. The conference brings together US government and industry subject matter experts in logistics and transportation to examine the challenges associated with the dynamic force employment of forces and equipment in support of US national security objectives.

This year’s event, the Surface Force Projection Conference (SFPC): Enabling Dynamic Force Employment Through Global Port Readiness, has a revised format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Webinars will take place July 29-30, 2020, featuring the four SFPC keynote speakers. These webinars will be followed by three in-person panels to be held during the NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting, as part of the Transportation Academy, October 5-8, 2020, in St. Louis, Missouri.

“Everything we’re here to do in the last two days was to enable warfighting readiness and build the comprehensive readiness necessary, the capability and capacity, in order to make that happen,” said MG Farmen. And, vital to making that happen are the strategic seaports which bring together the modes and players needed to accomplish the common purpose of moving, deploying, and sustaining the Armed Forces to deliver readiness and lethality at “S.P.E.E.D.”

Referencing a quote by (then) Secretary of Defense Gen James Mattis, USMC (Ret.), that “if you can’t move, you’re not lethal,” MG Farmen emphasized the importance of troops being able to get what they need, when and where needed. MG Farmen uses the acronym S.P.E.E.D. at SDDC as the way to accomplish this effectively.

The S in S.P.E.E.D. stands for being strategic in execution. In other words, being anticipatory and thinking through problems in advance. If delivering at S.P.E.E.D. is being achieved, the P, which stands for projecting power, is being accomplished. The first E is enabling warfighting readiness, which is the number one priority of US Transportation Command Commander Gen Stephen Lyons, USA, and is the number one obligation for SDDC and its partners. The second E stands for being experts in intermodal operations. Being experts in their crafts is what will allow SDDC to deliver the D, which stands for dynamic force employment, a necessity in today’s dynamic environment.

“We’re going to fight by, with, and through our ports,” MG Farmen reiterated. “And then it’s going to be sustained by, with, and through the ports. So, not only are we deploying and projecting at the time and place of our choosing, we’ve got to sustain it by, with, and through our ports—and we’ve got to make sure we can do that effectively.”

For more information on the Surface Force Projection Conference, visit www.ndtahq.com/events/ports-conference/.

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