'Wagonmaster' leaders get away to get things done

By Staff Sgt. Rob Strain
15th Sus. Bde. Public Affairs

MARBLE FALLS, Texas — The leaders and Families of the headquarters and battalions of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), gathered Feb. 20 in Marble Falls, Texas, for a planning conference in preparation for the brigade’s upcoming deployment.

The conference had three objectives: to have fun, to look beyond the horizon, and to understand that change is coming, said Greenville, Ala. native Col. Larry Phelps, the brigade’s commander.

Phelps said it was important for the leaders to get away from their phones and email in order to focus on the future, especially what lies beyond the preparations for deployment.

The conference’s first speaker, Mark Gorkin, a New York native psychotherapist, talked to the Soldiers and their families about sources of stress and ways to manage it.

Gorkin said a lot of stress stems from issues of control and communication.

He cited some airline crashes from the 1990s, in which it was determined that the co-pilot knew there was danger, but was afraid to speak up and correct the more senior pilot, who was in control of the plane.

Gorkin had the leaders and Families break into small groups, where they participated in a number of activities, such as coming up with nicknames for each other, or telling one member that they really messed up a presentation.

The goal was to make everyone more comfortable in those sometimes awkward situations as well as bring everyone closer together as a team, Gorkin explained.

“The language we use and the way we think really translates into how we see ourselves and the rest of the world,” Gorkin said.

Later in the day, the brigade’s leaders sat down together in order to plan the realignment of logistics forces on Fort Hood known as Provider Shift, while their families had some time to discuss family readiness and rear detachment operations.

According to Phelps, the alignment of logistics forces across the Army requires a sustainment brigade to move to Fort Bliss, Texas. Currently, the 15th SB is scheduled to move following the upcoming deployment.

Although the details of the move are not yet known, Phelps aims to ensure there is communication with each Soldier and Family member about the move, in order to quell rumors and avoid confusion about the process.

To finish the conference, Maj. Alanna Cook, the rear detachment commander for the 4th Sustainment Brigade, briefed the leaders of the 15th SB on lessons learned during her tenure as the brigade’s rear detachment commander as well as expectations of the brigade’s rear detachment during the deployment.


Brig. Gen. Paul Wentz (photo)
Brig. Gen. Paul Wentz, commanding general, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), talks to leaders and Families of the 15th Sustainment Brigade during the brigade's offsite conference in Marble Falls, Texas, Feb. 20. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Rob Strain, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)

Mark Gorkin (photo)
Mark Gorkin, a psychotherapist from New York, speaks with leaders and Families from the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Feb. 20 during the brigade's offsite conference in Marble Falls, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Rob Strain, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)