MSG Half-Mast dropped by Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), the first home of PS Magazine, to interview Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Kristie L. Brady, the senior enlisted advisor for the Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) and the senior APG CSM. CSM Brady assumed her current duties on June 25, 2020.
Raised in Ethan, South Dakota, CSM Brady entered active duty in 1992 as an Information Systems Operator-Analyst (25B). During her 30 years of service, CSM Brady has served in a variety of command and staff positions to include G6 Sergeant Major and Organizational Development Sergeant Major, Washington, D.C.; 3rd Joint Communications Squadron Sergeant Major and J3 Operations Sergeant Major, Joint Communications Support Element. Her most recent assignment was as the brigade CSM for the Joint Communications Support Element (Airborne), Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (MacDill AFB, FL). She has a B.S. from Strayer University and an M.S. from the University of Charleston, West Virginia.
: CSM Brady, I appreciate your time. My roots are here at APG, so it’s a pleasure to visit again. Please describe the role that CECOM plays in supporting the warfighter.
: A great introduction to CECOM can be seen right here by watching this excellent video:
I will try to give you a quick snapshot, but I assure you—with the diverse mission that CECOM has—it could take days to share all that we do and offer! What a great opportunity for me to share with your readers some understanding of how our efforts are directly impacting the Warfighter and unit readiness.
CECOM’s scope of the Army’s fleet includes all things electronics; command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems; and medical readiness and it generates effects across supply, training, and readiness within the unit status report (USR) components in the Army. As most probably know, the USR is a monthly reporting tool used by leaders to determine readiness. Here are the functions within CECOM that help to achieve the highest ratings in readiness….
Our Integrated Logistics Readiness Center (ILSC) provides and supplies global logistics solutions to enable Army units with the parts they require to keep equipment operating; they also train Soldiers and provide Technical Manuals (TMs) on how best to operate that equipment, as well as assist Soldiers with fixing the equipment if needed.
Our Software Engineering Center or SEC, fields software by developing, providing, integrating, and maintaining Army command, cyber, medical, logistics and business software. Soldiers should definitely check out the repository at: https://cecom.sw.csd.disa.mil/Login/Login.aspx
, where they can download system patches for the systems they maintain; it’s a great tool to keep systems up-to-date, cyber-compliant and operational.
Our Central Technical Support Facility or CTSF, located at Fort Hood, Texas, ensures that new equipment and software fielded in the Army is interoperable when integrating with current or older systems. Once the testing is complete, the CTSF will report test results to the DA G6 on whether or not the systems are interoperable with the rest of the Army’s fleet and ready for use.
The US Army Information Systems Engineering Command or ISEC, located at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, provides engineering support not only to Soldiers, Army posts and units, but across the DOD. Think about how Verizon or AT&T works for you at home; this is what ISEC does for the Army. That’s an understatement, because they do so much more!
Likewise, CECOM’s Tobyhanna Army Depot or TYAD, located in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, is the go-to source for C5ISR depot repair not only for Army systems, but for systems and equipment from across the joint force.
Last, and certainly not least, our newest subordinate command, Army Medical Logistics Command (AMLC), located at Fort Detrick, Maryland, manages the global medical supply chain and medical materiel readiness across the total force. All Class VIII supplies, medical equipment support and vaccines such as flu shots, COVID vaccinations and testing are delivered from this very robust command!
Of course, that is just the tip of the iceberg of the incredible support CECOM’s global force of Soldiers, civilians and contractors provide to our Soldiers and to Joint Warfighters whenever, wherever they need it.
: As CECOM’s senior enlisted adviser, what are your priorities and what do you find yourself speaking to the CG about most?
CSM Brady: Our People – Army Readiness – Soldier Training – and Transition to Sustainment – in that order. All of these together are about how we, CECOM, can assist with bridging the gap in modernization to sustainment.
But that first priority – People – is what I think about every day; how I can help contribute to the well-being of the wonderful Soldiers and civilians of the CECOM family. I have a program here that helps focus on just that well-being. It’s called the SOUL of CECOM: Selflessness, Ownership, Unity and Larger purpose.
Selflessness is putting individual needs aside for the greater good of the team. Ownership is fulfilling your role by knowing your job well and performing it consistently, so that others do not have to do it, and giving 100% all the time. Unity is having a common understanding and rallying around your mission and vision through open communication and positive conflict resolution. Larger purpose is contributing to the wider community in a lasting and significant way that ultimately impacts our warfighters.
Focusing on Selflessness, Ownership and Unity as “what” we do, and Larger Purpose as “why” we do it, is how we will achieve the larger purpose as a team.
To assist with this program, I added a component called VOTE, to assist with timely feedback, development, sharing and communicating with all employees. VOTE stands for Voice of the Employee and can be captured in multiple ways, such as: venues or forums such as our established command-wide councils; diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I); junior advisory council; human capital; peer-to-peer program; and many more! The ways in which we encourage employees to VOTE are through DOD- and Army-directed surveys, ‘Ask the Commander,' CSM Corner, email and open door policy, to name just a few.
Are there any readiness trends that CECOM is tracking that suggests Soldiers are doing things especially well or, conversely, that there’s room for improvement in the way they care for their C5ISR equipment?
CSM Brady: I would like to share some observations. Over the last 20 years, we took the time away from our maintainers through frequent deployments and resets. Units had to shift priorities from maintenance to quick-cycle resets and as a result lost the skills to do the maintenance required. The turnover was so rapid that many systems did not get to the depot for overhauls, parts replaced and/or fully transition new equipment to sustainment. Army Materiel Command (AMC) C5ISR logistics assistance representatives (LARs) supporting CECOM systems and equipment did much of the work maintainers really had no time for.
As the Army transitions to the regionally-aligned readiness and modernization model, or REARMM, proficiency in Soldier dash-10-, dash-20-level skills must be put back to use. The modernization arm of that model means that there will be many new systems for Soldiers to learn. The challenge will be MOS convergence at scale as we move into a more agile Army.
I like to use the analogy of buying a car when I explain sustainment. Over its lifetime, or lifecycle, you will spend most of your money on upkeep and maintenance. Well that’s what lifecycle support or sustainment is...taking care of all that equipment after it's been fielded to the units.
Finally, let me close by saying we provide C5ISR support to the Army’s 31+4 signature modernization efforts, and it's critical that we engage with Army Futures Command (AFC) and the Cross-Functional Teams (CFTs) to bridge the gap between modernization and sustainment in all compos.
What advice would you give junior Soldiers regarding their role in sustaining personal and unit readiness?
CSM Brady: Soldiers must use -10 and -20 series TMs. We must provide heavy command emphasis and priority for Soldiers to PMCS IAW the appropriate TM (as supplemented by PS Magazine, of course!). The end result will be fewer trouble tickets, higher readiness rates and greater Soldier training and proficiency on equipment. The Army maintenance standards are defined in AR 750-1 para 3-2. Place emphasis on standards-based training in all that you do, and hold your teams accountable to do what it is required – inspect what you expect - all the time!
Ensure you are keeping all software on these systems up to date. Software, like hardware maintenance, requires periodic updates (quarterly for example). This ties to the SEC’s software repository and the Cyber Readiness Framework (CRF) objectives. Software is everywhere, on ALL hardware, which is why HQDA is tying it to the USR for total equipment readiness.
Finally, and frankly the most important advice is to take care of yourself, first and foremost. Holistic health and fitness (H2F) encompasses all aspects of human performance and health—physical, sleep, nutrition, and spiritual and mental resilience. Practice this every day and, if you’re a leader, place an emphasis on your Soldiers doing the same; in short, take care of each other. This can be accomplished by making it your priority, leading by example and supporting your Soldiers to do the same. It’s just like the airline safety announcement when they say, “put your mask on first before assisting other passengers.” Take care of yourself and take care of each other—this is OUR Squad.
: In your Army.mil feature, you mentioned Master Sgt. Brenda Kadet as a mentor of yours. You were also quoted as saying, "Every Soldier should have at least one mentor to help them grow as a Soldier and leader." What would you say are the most important qualities in a mentor?
CSM Brady: Great question, and something I am very passionate about. I would not be where I am today without the many mentors, from all backgrounds, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, civilians, contractors and family that have supported me. The best way to explain this to my younger Soldiers is to think about it as an audience of supporters as you stand on stage throughout your career. In that audience, you have leaders, peers, subordinates and trusted colleagues that you have come across throughout your career—all with varying degrees of experiences and backgrounds. These folks that make up your audience are the ones you can call on at any moment of need, depending on the situation in which you find yourself.
The most impactful mentors are those who exhibit these qualities: they’re available no matter the time of day; they listen more and talk less; they push you to be your best and challenge you just a little more than you might be comfortable with; they provide the right feedback and perspective—at the right time; and they tell you things you don’t want to hear. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the many mentors that I have had over the course of my career!
“Greatness isn’t born, it’s grown” – Daniel Coyle said in The Talent Code. Mentors are an absolute necessity in the development of our Soldiers. Our future leaders and their leadership depend on them.