Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen assumed command of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command last month. He had previously served as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
As commander of SDDC, Farmen will lead nearly 5,000 active and Reserve military and civilian personnel responsible for planning and executing the surface delivery of supplies and equipment in support of Department of Defense contingencies, exercises and humanitarian aid missions.
What led you to join the military?
My father served in the U.S. Army for 34 years and retired as a Major General, so service runs deep in my family. I was inspired to serve because of him—he remains my teacher, coach, mentor, and friend.
When did you decide you wanted to become an officer?
After my second year of college I committed to being a history major. I didn’t want to teach history or go to law school, so I called my dad and said talk to me about this ROTC program. He told me to visit the department at school and talk to them. I did and the rest is history. I was hooked!
Was there a specific goal in mind when you became an officer?
To serve with honor first and foremost. To be the best leader I could be, pay attention, listen, and learn. As a platoon leader, I was fortunate to have a fantastic first platoon sergeant—he showed me what right looked like and I still find strength in the lessons he taught me.
What is your favorite Army memory?
I wouldn’t say favorite, but the most distinctive was the privilege to serve as a Battalion Commander and lead a Logistics Task Force in combat. Over 1,600 Soldiers were in the formation—earning 778 combat action badges and 27 purple hearts, but we brought everyone home. I am most proud of this.
What can the Soldiers and Civilians of SDDC expect from you?
I am approachable. Leading Soldiers is a privilege—my mission is to earn it every day. It’s all about the team. I’ve got your back, I care, and I will always choose the hard, right way—no gray zones.
What do you expect from the SDDC workforce?
Trust and teamwork. These are not just words, it is our business model. The mindset is this—if we accomplish anything it will be because we did it together! We must be business savvy with a warfighting edge and operationalize this intent daily by striking the right balance. The warfighting edge is our profit margin ... trusted professionals delivering readiness. Surface Warriors!
What advice would you give Soldiers?
Everyone counts, everybody matters. We need 100 percent of our people doing 100 percent of the work. Ensure you do your job and do your part. Our priority is readiness. Operationalize what is means to be a Surface Warrior—it is about being ready, not reacting—hold yourself accountable individually and as part of the team. Be a team player.
What do you look forward to the most?
The entire experience. The opportunity to make a difference and to work with great people. This is all bigger than SDDC—it is about what’s right for our Army, USTRANSCOM, the Joint Force, DoD, and our Nation. I look forward to harvesting the relationships, partnerships, and friendships necessary (as I like to say, the “three ships”) with the entire team of teams that is necessary to support warfighting requirements at the point of need. We will work daily to garner the speed required to fight tonight, fight fast, and thrive in a complex world.
Do you have a leadership philosophy?
People are our strategic advantage. If we get the people piece right everything else falls into place. We will continue striving to create a culture where everyone is treated with dignity and respect and can learn, thrive, and grow to reach their full potential. We must always open the aperture to broad collaboration to build a culture of certainty—founded on trust and transparency.
This culture will spark the bold, innovative ideas, options, and possibilities we need to win in a complex world. Stay ready for today and set the conditions for tomorrow—“together we deliver.”
Our Creed is: We must begin with a commitment to making Character-Readiness-Honor part of our DNA. Simply put, we must continuously strive to become a unit that embodies the conscience and integrity (character) to make the hard, right choices and decisions, whose actions exude and empower the Warrior/Civilian Ethos (readiness), and the (honor) to live up to Army Values—so we execute all missions with excellence as a habit and return with honor. It is our quest to become a professional, power projection machine and ethics-based “team” with a reputation founded on these attributes.
How do you feel about being at Scott AFB?
Excited! I hear nothing but great things about the team here, the people, the communities surrounding SAFB and the whole area. Debbie and I appreciate the warm welcome we have received, and we look forward to making more acquaintances and extending our relationships with everyone. As a rule of thumb, Debbie and I like to live like tourists wherever we go—so we will be out exploring the area and taking it all in.