By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — More than 120 leaders from two-dozen military organizations across 13 states gathered here March 27-28 for the first-ever 99th Regional Support Command Customer Support Conference.
The two-day conference was hosted by Maj. Gen. William Monk III, commanding general of the Army Reserve's 99th RSC.
"The 99th Regional Support Command exists for one reason, and that is to support you and the Soldiers you have in your commands," Monk told the crowd gathered inside the Maj. John P. Pryor Memorial U.S. Army Reserve Center, headquarters of the 99th RSC.
The 99th RSC was activated in September 2008, replacing the former 77th, 94th and 99th Regional Readiness Commands in accordance with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure plan. As part of this restructuring, the 99th RSC lost command and control of the units it supports, a function previously held by the RRCs.
"At that time, we were very much consolidating operations from the RRCs into my fledgling RSC staff, very much a time of transition and change," Monk explained.
The RSC's newly defined mission was to provide administrative, logistical, facilities management, and other base-operations support to the more than 46,000 Army Reserve Soldiers, 400 headquarters units and 300 facilities in its 13-state area of responsibility, which stretches from Maine to Virginia, while leaving the command-and-control function to the newly established Army Reserve Operational and Functional Commands.
Increasing awareness of this new relationship and cooperation between the 99th RSC and the units it supports were the driving forces behind the Customer Support Conference.
Monk outlined four goals he intended to achieve during the conference: To inform supported units of the 99th RSC's capabilities, to listen to the supported units' needs, to connect his staff with supported units' staffs, and to collaborate with supported units.
"To inform, that's the principle goal," he explained, "to inform you of what we can do, what we can't do, and how we are going about that."
To that end, representatives from the 99th RSC's Directorate of Human Resources, Command Surgeon's Office, Directorate of Logistics, Legislative Liaison Office, Directorate of Resource Management, Directorate of Information Management, Directorate of Public Works, Directorate of Emergency Services, Chaplain Office, Public Affairs Office, and Plans, Analysis and Integration Office briefed the audience on their ability to offer them support.
"The second goal is to listen," Monk continued. "Primarily, that's my guys listening to you as our customers, to make sure that we are supporting you in the ways you need...to listen to your issues, your questions, your concerns, and make sure that we are supporting you the best we can."
Monk said that the RSC is taking steps to track its success in offering customer support, including using the Interactive Customer Evaluation program, a Web-based tool that collects feedback throughout the Department of Defense on services provided and allows managers to monitor customer satisfaction levels through reports and submitted comments.
"Interactive Customer Evaluation is an online method by which you, our customers, can submit comments, suggestions and feedback on the support that we are providing you," Monk explained. "This is an important part of how we make sure we are providing support to you."
The third goal of the conference, according to Monk, was to link 99th RSC staff members to those in supported units.
"I wanted to use this opportunity to connect your staffs with mine, and to connect you and your staffs to some of the resources available to you outside the RSC," Monk said.
On the first point, Monk praised his staff as capable and willing to help.
"Principally, they are here to support my internal operations," he explained. "However, in all cases where you need help, in terms of not having sufficient resources of your own or subject-matter expertise, they are all prepared to fulfill that role to the extent that they can.
"Those who are here are highly qualified, highly motivated and they're doing the job and doing it great," he added.
As for resources available outside the RSC, several representatives from outside organizations spoke during the conference, including Cindy Lass of the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center at Fort McCoy, Wis., Brig. Gen. Razz Waff, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command at St. Louis, and N.Y. Army Reserve Ambassador Norbert Rappl of the U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador Program.
Additionally, representatives from organizations such as the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Reserve Officers Association, Association of the United States Army, Senior Army Reserve Commanders Association and Employment Partnership Office were on hand to answer questions and build connections.
"Lastly," Monk said, "is for us to collaborate. The opportunity is here to talk with the providers and customers and to identify ways for us to be able to do business better, all with the goal of supporting our Soldiers — that's what we're all about.
"We are still figuring out the specifics of how we derive that support in terms of relative roles and responsibilities between what you all do, what my guys do, how we interact and how we perform our missions," Monk continued. "The focus and emphasis is on collaboration and to work through problems as opposed to getting stuck on the fact that there is a problem."
At the conference's conclusion, Monk encouraged attendees to complete After Action Review questionnaire cards, which would not only offer feedback on the success of this conference, but on the need for and frequency of any future customer-support conferences.
"This is a journey," he concluded. "Not a command relationship, but a support relationship and a collaborative effort."