Breaking up isn’t hard to do, for one USTRANSCOM directorate

Release #130613-1 posted on Jun 18, 2013
Lt. Col. Raymond Cirasa is one of the 212 transportation experts currently working in the in the J5 directorate at USTRANSCOM.  Photo by Bob Fehringer, USTRANSCOM/PA

Lt. Col. Raymond Cirasa is one of the 212 transportation experts currently working in the in the J5 directorate at USTRANSCOM. Photo by Bob Fehringer, USTRANSCOM/PA

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SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – When Col. Paul H. Guemmer, U.S. Transportation Command deputy, J5 and J4, came to the command last year, the divisions’ functions were under a single director and the directorate was called the J5/4. Since then, many things have changed.

“We worked everything from strategy to policy and doctrine to logistics process improvements,” Guemmer said.   “It was a very broad umbrella of what you’d typically find under a J5 and a J4, and it was spread across multiple divisions.”

In October of last year, Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander USTRANSCOM, announced a new strategy in step with the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Strategic Direction to the Joint Force.

The command’s Strategic Plan revealed the need for enhanced communications, efficiencies and core competencies.  It stressed a need to eliminate confusion among internal and external customers by identifying specific roles and responsibilities within the J5/4 directorate.

“With the reorganization, we first set up a new entity, the Enterprise Readiness Center,” Guemmer said.  “One of the divisions, the Intermodal Programs Division which works CRAF (Civil Reserve Air Fleet) and VISA (Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement) issues was rolled under the ERC.  We then augmented (personnel) from around the staff (to staff the ERC).

“Then we took what would be traditionally a COCOM J5 function put it out into a distinct J5 and then we took those functions that would be a typical J4 function or more logistics oriented to split them out into a distinct J4 to kind of draw a distinction between the two areas of work  under Admiral Brown (Rear Adm. Andy Brown, director J5/J4).”

In a nutshell, the J5 directorate now proposes COCOM level strategies, policies and program recommendations to the USTRANSCOM commander while the J4 handles the logistics and policies governing the movement of personnel, supplies and sustainment.

“The crux of the matter, as to why we wanted to split the J5 and J4 was to aid in the efficiency and to eliminate confusion,” said Barry Smithey, USTRANSCOM, Policy and Doctrine Division chief.  “We have better internal and external communication within the command and outside the command with the separation.  J4 does the logistics and policy and procedures versus what the J5 does, which is more of a strategic look at things.”

According to Guemmer, the split also makes it easier for potential customers to know where to get help when needed.

“Part of it is external optics,” Guemmer said.  “How we interact with the Joint Staff and how we interact with other combatant command staffs to have more of a fine J5 function so they know where their contacts are and (to have) a clearly defined J4 function so they know where their contacts are.”

This all should lead to savings in an era of cutbacks.

“The strategic alignment discussions that are going on right now with the directors and General Fraser may have recommendations on how the staff aligns,” Guemmer said.  “I think we have a lot of equities across the staff, and as the budgets get tighter we need to look at how we align so that we get efficiencies, make sure we’re not duplicating work across directorates, and if it makes sense maybe consolidating for some manpower and efficiency savings across the command.  I think there’s a lot more potential for future realignments.”

Savings have are already being realized thanks to the reorganization.

“I think the standup of the Enterprise Readiness Center has really done a lot to change the perception of TRANSCOM with our external customers,” Guemmer said, “and is really starting to draw additional business into TRANSCOM particularly in the area of FMS (foreign military sales) movements.

According to Guemmer, another area that has changed recently is the Distribution Portfolio Management function which was in the J6 and has now been realigned and moved into the J4. It is now known as the Distribution Portfolio Management Coordinator.

“It looks at system changes that the services or DTS (Defense Transportation System) users suggest, from the process point of view to see if it’s worth investing dollars into and making technical changes to our DTS systems,” Guemmer said.

According to Smithey, this is done to involve a more business-focused, business-minded analysis on how we perform technical system changes to ensure a return on investment.

Be assured that the approximately 212 logistics, supply, strategy and operational experts are working to assure present and future customers, in time of war and peace, that USTRANSCOM and its components will deliver.

“I think what we’ve done with the J5/J4 split has gone a long way in assisting folks to know internally and externally what we are responsible for,” Smithey said.  “What our responsibilities are.  I do think the ERC is a great conduit for the commercial industry and the external customers to finally realize they have a place to come into and that entity will work with them to solve their transportation problems.”


                                                            - USTRANSCOM -


"I believe the split is needed and long over due, but I wonder why the J5/4 was created in the first place?"
"What is the difference between the J3 and J4 functions?"
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