Executive Briefing: August 28, 2020

‘We Didn’t Miss a Beat,’ Shull tells American Logistics Association

TheExchangePost.com

On Aug. 25, the ALA held a virtual Teams conference with AAFES. At this conference, Tom Shull and his team highlighted the extraordinary efforts that AAFES has taken through its Disaster Support Group to cope with these major disasters in North Carolina, Florida and Puerto Rico. We suspect that at AAFES headquarters, the disaster support group is already mobilizing for hurricane Laura.  READ MORE

Congratulations in order as commissaries break records for food donations. Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) patrons and employees once again led this year’s Department of Defense (DOD) contributions to the annual Feds Feed Families campaign by collecting nearly 2.3 million pounds of food and personal hygiene items. The previous donations record for DeCA’s donations was 1.6 million pounds in 2015. That’s 90 percent of all food donations from DoD programs. Randy Eller, DeCA’s logistics director, reported that nearly 27,000 bags of food were provided by patrons and employees. The record donations come as some advocates in Congress cite growing hunger problem for military families. 

Unsung heroes—Navy Lodges. ALA salutes the management and employees of the Navy Lodge Program. During the pandemic, these folks have gone over and above the call of duty to take care of sailors and their families who have been quarantined. Working with the CDC and Defense health people, they rolled out the “Shipshape and Squared Away” program that provided protective measures and meals at all lodges. Hat’s off to Chris Settelen, VP of NEXCOM’s Lodge program and his wonderful team. The Lodge program is in addition to the NEX Quarantine Support Program that provides goods and services to sailors and families to include downrange. 

Defense health care debate and implications for resale programs. There a big debate going on in the Pentagon over the future of the military health care system. This has implications on commissary are exchange programs in several respects. First, if more health care facilities are … READ MORE


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Pentagon and Military News

Consumer worries over COVID-19 head back up, report says

Grocery Drive

Worry about the impact of the pandemic is rising among consumers in the United States, with concern about the coronavirus nearly back to the level recorded in March, according to a survey of consumer attitudes conducted by Dunnhumby. The data science company’s Worry Index is now at 29%, an increase of 6% from the firm’s June survey and just below the 30% point it reached at the start of the pandemic.

Trump’s second-term plan includes stopping ‘endless’ wars, boosting military support

Military Times
President Donald Trump released a 50-point second-term agenda on Sunday which vows to maintain American military might and “wipe out” terrorist groups overseas but also to stop the country’s involvement in “endless wars.”

VP Pence credits Trump with rebuilding the military, fixing VA in reelection pitch

Military Times
Vice President Mike Pence lauded President Donald Trump for rebuilding the military, fixing the Department of Veterans Affairs and strengthening America’s national security in his Republican convention speech.

Rising military personnel costs may mean future cuts in troop numbers

Military Times
Despite White House and Pentagon suggestions that military end strength should continue to grow in coming years, the total number of personnel is likely to stay flat or start shrinking due to budget pressures on the Defense Department, according to a new financial analysis.

South Korea warns lockdown may be necessary amid coronavirus resurgence; six more troops test positive

Stars & Stripes

South Korean President Moon Jae-in warned a lockdown may be necessary as 266 new coronavirus cases were reported Monday, a sharp drop from the previous day but the 11th consecutive day the number was in triple digits.

Military on Guam enters health condition ‘Charlie’ as island’s coronavirus cases surge

Stars & Stripes

An upswing in new coronavirus cases on Guam has prompted the military there to increase its health protection condition, Joint Region Marianas announced Thursday. 

Background investigations: How to get a security clearance for a federal job

Federal Times

Working in the federal government — or as a contractor who performs work on behalf of an agency — means going through at least one background investigation to determine if a candidate is a suitable fit for federal employment, but the extent of that investigation can vary widely. 


INDUSTRY NEWS

Can brands become trusted consumer resources? 

Consumers are more concerned about social values now than they were in 2009, including social tolerance and equality, according to GfK survey data, and 35% trust brands to tell the truth compared to 25% who say the same about the government. READ MORE

Walmart to extend operating hours cut by pandemic 

Walmart will begin offering expanded operating hours this week at 85% of its US stores, changing closing time from 8:30 to 10 p.m. The retailer had cut its hours when the pandemic started in March to give associates more time to clean, restock store shelves and adhere to new safety protocols.


RESALE NEWS:

Feds Feed Families: Commissary patrons, employees donate record 2.3M pounds

New ‘Digital Garrison’ app takes FMWR, AAFES info mobile | GUIDON

Exchange’s Exclusive Brands Bring Exclusive Savings for Military Families 


 Mark your Calendar

Date                                               Event                                              More Information

Pending Coordination                NEX-MCX Virtual Update                           TBD

Pending Coordination                AAFES-Industry Virtual Work Shop’s          TBD

October 19, 2020                        ALA National (Virtual) Convention              Virtual Event

 

From the desk of the ALA President: August 4, 2020

Defense Commissary Agency director might get some more help and provide more industry interface. 

William F. Moore, poses for his official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va, Nov. 06, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by William Pratt)

Following the announcement of Mr. Bill Moore, the new DeCA Director, a position description is circulating in industry and the Pentagon for an employee to “advise and drive the DeCA leadership to embrace and pursue reform within the enterprise.”

The draft announcement says that the employee would “capitalize on outside expertise in the grocery industry and the respective Associations that support the supply chain and marketing industries.”

The description goes on to say the person would: “Establish professional contacts with high-level executives and representatives of industry partners, trade and professional associations, veterans and military service organizations, and special interest, constituent, and advocacy groups.”

“The candidate would also meet with industry experts to discuss innovations in the grocery business, and the impact COVIV-19 had on the industry and how DeCA can position itself to take advantage of industry and consumer shopping pattern changes.  The job calls for a person to: ensure business activities produce results and be “consistent with the overall strategy and mission of the agency and various studies (i.e. achieve the mandated savings targets currently set at 23.7%).”

“The candidate would also maintain a deep knowledge of the markets and grocery/retail industries.”

It’s unclear how the new position would be placed in the current DeCA structure, although our sources say that the person, if hired, would work directly with the DeCA director.

If the position is filled, ALA will engage to represent member interests, including continuing to present to DeCA expertise and developments within industry that can benefit the agency and the patrons.

ALA is planning to meet this month with the new leadership of the commissary agency.

Germany troop reductions to affect exchange and commissary operations, costing commissaries and exchanges tens of millions of dollars.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tony R. Ritter)

The moves will cost commissaries and exchanges at a time when the pandemic is already costing the exchanges hundreds of millions of dollars if not north of $1 billion in added pandemic costs and losses in revenue as operations are curtailed or closed and shoppers for high margin items are dropping.  A new $30 million, 54,000 square foot commissary opened in 2016 at Spangdahlem, and a new exchange opened just eight years ago.

ALA’s position is that the troops should not pay the costs of strategic relocations of forces out of either commissary surcharge or nonappropriated funds and Congress has passed legislation to allow funds that are generated from the disposal of commissaries and exchanges to be put back into the funding source from which they originated.  We’ll be pressing policy-makers to recognize this obligation.

After President Trump criticized Germany for not paying their “fair share,” the Pentagon announced that it is removing 11,900 personnel from Germany and ending the Spangdahlem Air Force Base mission.  6,400 troops would return to the U.S. and the remainder will be sent elsewhere in Europe with a large number going to Italy.  The biggest effect will have at Spangdahlem AFB where 5,000 personnel are located and plans to add more forces to the base were cancelled.  Plans were underway to move around 2,500 forces from Mildenhall AFB in the U.K.

Some forces will move to the Black Sea region and some to Poland. Overall, there are reports that the DoD is rethinking its brick-and-mortar infrastructure fearing that permanent bases could be vulnerable to attack in what Defense Secretary Mark Esper called “dynamic force employment.” The Air Force will be investing in other bases in Poland, Estonia and Romania.   There already are 4,000 troops in Poland and plans are to up this number to 5,500.  An agreement was just reached between Poland and the U.S. and could post more troops in Poznan and Drawsko Pomorskie.  There are also plans for an Air Force logistics center and another base near the German border.  Ramstein AFB would be unaffected.

European Command will be moving its headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Belgium including 600 military and 300 civilians.  24,000 troops would remain in Germany after the moves.  4,500 troops based in Vilsack will come back to the United States.  The Special Operations Command and the African Command will also move from Stuttgart.

A Joint Forces color guard stand at attention before the U.S. Africa Command change-of-command ceremony at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

The moves are being debated in Congress where several amendments to block the moves were voted down during deliberations over the fiscal year 2021 Defense bills.  The House Armed Services Committee chairman Adam Smith is questioning the moves while the Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe supports the moves.  The House bill included a measure requiring advance notice of moves and assessments on cost and National security, the Senate had no such measure and they’ll be working out differences in the conference on the FY 2021 Defense Bill.  The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said that the conference on the two bills won’t be complete until after the election.  Usually, strategic moves such as this are not able to be blocked by Congress.

Timing for all of the moves is still uncertain as it takes months to get logistics and agreements in place along with realigning or building facilities.  Estimates of total cost are around $10 billion.  Also moving the forces from Spangdahlem AFB to Aviano, Italy will require major facility upgrades.

And, in case you haven’t heard, there’s an election coming up and a change in Administration would affect both the scope and timing of the European moves.

We’ll keep you posted.

Coming up:

  • What’s going on with curbside service and delivery in exchanges and commissaries and with delivery and curbside at commercial businesses outside the gate?
  • What’s going on with efforts to get funding relief to assist the exchanges and MWR programs to weather the pandemic?