The Defense Logistics Agency’s representatives to the military’s combatant commands discussed their various assignments at a Combatant Command Liaison Officer Summit March 11-12 at the McNamara Headquarters Complex.
Army Col. Robert Gagnon, director of the Joint Operations Logistics Center, explained liaison officers, or LNOs, work behind the scenes with the agency’s customers on big-picture issues. LNOs have intimate knowledge of the unique needs of various commands and can give valuable insight to what commanders are thinking, he said.
“LNOs serve as the eyes and ears of DLA,” Gagnon said. “We can tailor to commanders’ logistical needs so we’re much more agile and responsive to our customers.” Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dowd, director of DLA Logistics Operations, told the group that they play a crucial role in the agency’s operations.
“We’re really impressed with what you guys are doing out there,” Dowd said. “Back here we may be the nerve center, but out there you guys are really the ones making things happen.”
Dowd praised the LNOs for their ability to respond quickly and assist commanders in making important choices.
“DLA has the ability to shape the outcomes, so it’s important that we get the right information,” he said.
Dowd used an example of how an employee at DLA Disposition Services supplied Dowd with information about material including appliances, generators and miscellaneous equipment in Afghanistan that was slated for demolition. Armed with the information, DLA was able to sell approximately $7 million in gear rather than destroy it.
“That kind of actionable intelligence puts the DLA in good shape,” he said. “You men and women are the eyes and the ears of the agency.”
Dowd said that DLA’s future plans would likely include a sharper focus on domestic and internal issues, like humanitarian aid and disaster relief. At the same time, he said, the agency wants to shed unnecessary inventory and real estate.
“I think we’ll start looking more often at ourselves here, in the U.S.,” he said. “Obsolete storage buildings will be knocked down, disaster operations will continue preparation, and our work with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and [the General Services Administration] will continue.”
Gagnon said the meeting was the first of its kind in four years and served as a chance for the LNOs to network with their peers and share their abilities and experiences.
“The big strengths of gathering this many LNOs together are the sharing of ideas and making sure that everyone is on board with the same vision,” Gagnon said. “Being able to understand that allows them to better represent what DLA is doing for the combatant commanders.”