Fort Belvoir, Virginia –
Defense Logistics Agency’s warrant officers are few in number, averaging only 17 Army billets and one Marine Corps billet, but their impact is felt throughout the enterprise. Touching almost all activities and locations, DLA’s WOs are critical in supporting commanders, service members and other DLA customers.
Warrant officers, nearly all of whom begin as enlisted service members, are technical specialists in their fields, from legal assistance to veterinary services. They serve in branches such as logistics, aviation, military intelligence, ordnance, transportation, signal and cyber. In the Army, some aviation warrants fly helicopters and planes.
The joint two-year assignment allows WOs to bring their knowledge of military operations and established relationships to DLA. On returning to their units, they bring back an in-depth knowledge of DLA demand forecasting, procurement systems and contracting. All for the benefit of providing and improving warfighter support.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Larry Lyons serves at DLA Energy Pacific at Okinawa, Japan, as a plans and operations officer for a defense fuel support point for bulk-fuel receipt and storage, as well as inventory management and distribution. He oversees six fuel terminals, 78 miles of pipeline, 56 million gallons of bulk fuel storage and the Pacific Command War Reserve in support of all Department of Defense activities in Okinawa.
“I chose to be a warrant officer because I wanted to be a technical subject matter expert in my field,” he said. “As a petroleum systems technician, I’m an expert in fuel, water and the lab testing of fuels.”
“Through progressive levels of expertise in assignments, training and education, we administer, manage, maintain, operate and integrate Army systems and equipment across the full range of Army operations,” he said. “I am the go-between for enlisted service members and commissioned officers. I am the expert adviser to the commissioned officers who come to me for the right answer.”
Lyons serves as a DLA liaison for U.S. military services, elements of the Japan Self-Defense Forces and other island partners, facilitating support of joint fuel requirements and ensuring strategic plans and operations are compliant with U.S. and host nation policies and regulations.
He recently helped a field unit solve a fuels problem that was affecting their trucks and their ability to complete their missions.
“They were having issues with fuel commingling with water and sediment,” Lyons said. “We provided lab sampling equipment and a monthly test of all fuel trucks in their fleet to ensure their fuel was suitable for use.”
He said he also provided expert fuel guidance on sampling and testing of their petroleum vehicles and recommended replacing the filters and recirculating the fuel to ensure this problem didn’t occur again.
While Lyons is involved in fuels delivery, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joseph Giles has served as chief of aerial delivery for DLA Distribution in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, since 2014.
Giles, a WO for 14 years, manages the only aerial delivery warehouse in DLA. As the principal airdrop advisor to the DLA Distribution commander, he provides receipt, storage, control and shipment of over 15,000 mission-critical material-release orders annually for all armed services branches, federal and civilian agencies, foreign military services and multiple combatant commands stateside and overseas. He manages over 850 national stock numbers valued at $450 million and ensures logistical continuity between DLA, the TACOM Integrated Logistics Support Center and the aerial delivery community.
Giles recently helped provide replacements for 200 unserviceable parachutes the 82nd Airborne Division needed to continue its global support mission.
“There wasn’t enough time to turn in unserviceable parachutes and receive replacements with current business rules,” Giles said. “So within one week, we provided a solution where personnel from the 82nd were able to drive to Pennsylvania, turn in the old and get the replacement parachutes to meet their mission deadline.”
Not only do DLA’s WOs help stateside customers, they also deploy wherever DLA has a worldwide presence. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Scott Kjendlie deployed as an operations officer on DLA Support Team–Afghanistan, a position normally reserved for a commissioned officer in the rank of major.
Kjendlie, a WO for 10 years in the armament field, is deputy chief for land customer operations in the Weapon Systems Support Management Division at DLA Land and Maritime, Columbus, Ohio. “We not only provide specific field technical expertise, but we also provide leadership to enlisted and junior officers and serve as our commander’s ‘honest broker’ and ‘ear to the ground’ in terms of the maintenance of our specialized field,” he said.
DLA Troop Support has several WOs in its ranks, including Chief Warrant 3 Jemme Neal, a veterinary food inspector before she became a warrant officer and a food safety officer. Neal initially wanted to be in the officer corps, but the only officers in the veterinary service were veterinarians or warrant officers. She wanted to say focused on food safety, food defense and food quality, so she applied to become a warrant officer.
That way, “I could continue to develop myself as a technician,” Neal said.
“Typically, my job involves developing food inspection and training programs while serving as the technical expert to my commander,” Neal said.
Her specialty has allowed her to travel throughout the Midwest, deploy to Iraq in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn and help DLA provide disaster relief in Haiti and in New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy.
During her DLA assignment in Philadelphia as a consumer safety officer, Neal is issuing food recalls, providing food safety advice and conducting audits of Market Fresh and Prime Vendors in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, to ensure compliance with contractual requirements. As a joint officer, she is also learning the contractual processes to take that knowledge back to the veterinary corps to improve their DLA programs.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eugene Garcia, who works for DLA Troop Support in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a veterinary food safety officer, describes WOs as integrators. Garcia has only been with DLA since July. He’s already making an impact interacting with customers in the field to solve their problems relating to meal rations.
Chief Warrant 3 Kenneth McCutcheon works in biomedical acquisitions with one of DLA Troop Support’s forward-deployed customer support cells in Fort Detrick, Maryland. He’s been a health service maintenance warrant officer nine years and serves in a hybrid position providing customer service support and helping customers develop their requirements.
McCutcheon chose the warrant officer corps because of the leadership opportunities it offered and the impact he felt he would have on the field.
“My role is to understand issues brought to my attention and provide resources [or] information, or [help]develop a plan to solve the problem or further refine it,” he said.
McCutcheon recently finished working on a project with Army Medical Materiel Agency-Defense Health Agency and Keller Army Community Hospital at U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, to replace its computed radiography unit in conjunction with another renewal project.
“They notified us in March that they needed a contract awarded in July for an August delivery and a November go-live time,” he said. “Normally it would take us 8-10 months, but we were able to turn it around in under 90 days.”
He said the collaboration was time sensitive and complex. In addition, McCutcheon said the team was able to capitalize on a parallel Voluntary Incentive Agreement Program through DHA that allowed West Point to upgrade their system at no additional cost.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Arthur Harris works for the Army Team in the Materiel Management Office at DLA Logistics Operations, with DLA’s headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Harris entered the WO ranks in the quartermaster corps to become an expert in the logistics field. Harris is the DLA Army national account manager and an Army readiness officer. He’s a conduit for Army interactions with DLA and its primary-level field activities. He’s also the wholesale logistics point of contact for 427 Army weapon systems and issues affecting Army material readiness.
Harris is working with Department of the Army and the Army Materiel Command on the “All Army Excess” project, to synchronize DLA acceptance of all Army excess equipment as it downsizes.
Most recently, he worked with the Fort Hood, Texas, senior mission commander to help DLA in synchronizing the AAE project. He helped the fort’s organizations divest of excess equipment totaling 243 vehicles and 31,400 other items.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tim Robinson also works at DLA headquarters as a legal administrator in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He oversees the daily activities of the Office of General Counsel, managing office staff and automated systems, as well as budgets and contracting.
Robinson said he joined the WO corps after a friend became a legal administrator. Robinson wanted to stay in the JAG Corps, but he didn’t want to become a lawyer.
“Becoming a WO was the next best thing. I’ve never regretted my decision,” he said. “Although WOs make up less than 3 percent of the Army’s total strength, we have a great responsibility that includes training soldiers, organizing and advising on missions and advancing with our career specialties.”
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Jackson serves in the aviation branch of the Army WO corps at DLA Aviation in Richmond, Virginia, as a readiness officer. He tracks rotary wing aircraft status for the Army fleet and provides the aviation community global logistics support.
While WOs can serve in many capacities, Jackson, an aviation maintenance technician since 2008, said he chose the corps to become an expert in his field and to continue learning as much as he could while executing a broad spectrum of duties.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kevin Ryan also works in Richmond as an aviation readiness officer. Ryan provides a direct link between Army aviation warfighting customers and the DLA Aviation workforce. He said he helps develop continuity to ensure positive, proactive solutions that support DLA’s most important asset, the warfighter.
“I’ve been there, in need of support. It is critical that [DLA] provide outstanding service to those in the fight or to those conducting everyday operations within our aviation community,” he said.
Ryan believes the key to success as a warrant officer is to educate and give sound technical and tactical advice.
“In my position, I have the capability of reaching out to a large spectrum of Army aviation. That isn’t taken lightly. I feel there is a certain responsibility to do my absolute best to support those in need,” he said.
Ryan developed an outreach program where Army personnel travel to the customer to ensure DLA Aviation is meeting their needs.
“If we need to go to a location to improve our support, that is what we are willing to do,” Ryan said.
He’s also incorporated tools he used in previous assignments, like fleet readiness dashboards and performance scorecards, to help DLA’s civilian workforce understand their impact on warfighter support and supply support activity warehouse performance.
As the only Marine Corps warrant officer in DLA, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jacqueline Elazier-Allison occupies one of the newest joint military billets in DLA, joining the staff this past October. She’s attached to the Aviation Customer Focused Intelligence Team in the Marine Corps Customer Relationship Management Cell of the DLA Aviation Customer Operations Directorate. Her job is to enrich historical forecasts with customer requirements.
Elazier-Allison has field experience she brings to DLA from her previous jobs. She has 27 years’ experience in the aviation supply operations career field with 11 years as a warrant officer. She has two combat deployments.
“My level of experience affords me the opportunity to work with and mentor lieutenants and captains,” she said. “It’s all about relationship building and earning respect.”
Whether forecasting demand for aviation support packages, troubleshooting meal rations, solving fuel problems, running a legal office or arranging unique procurement solutions for replacement parachutes, DLA’s WOs are making a big impact and playing a critical role in warfighter support as leaders, mentors and technical experts.
A Little History about the Warrant Officer
According to the Warrant Officer Historical Foundation, the rank of warrant officer is one of the oldest in Western military systems, dating to the founding of the British navy. These sailors, referred to as “boat mates” or “bosun’s mates,” became indispensable to less experienced commissioned officers and were rewarded with a Royal Warrant to set them apart from other sailors, but not violate the strict class system of the time.
In July 1918, the U.S. Congress established the Army Mine Planter Service as part of the Coast Artillery Corps, headquartered at Fort Monroe, Virginia. In doing so, it also established the rank of warrant officer and directed they serve as masters, mates, chief engineers and assistant engineers of each vessel. The vessels were responsible for mine defenses in major ports during World War I. Congress, in 1920, expanded the use of warrant officers in clerical, administrative and band leadership positions.