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News | Feb. 12, 2020

Inside the nerve center of DLA Headquarters

By Guest Editorial Richard "Rick" Alexander DLA Headquarters Agency Synchronization Operations Center

Professional development opportunities come in many forms, shapes and programs.  Last summer I was afforded a volunteer opportunity to be included in a groundbreaking program, representing Defense Logistics Agency Aviation as a liaison officer to the DLA Headquarters Agency Synchronization Operations Center also known as ASOC. 

With the support of my family, beginning in October 2019, I spent several months serving in the “nerve center” of DLA Headquarters in the Andrew T. McNamara Building at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.   

Upon arrival, the learning curve was fast and steep. I went from a place where my whole world revolved around all things “procurement” in the DLA Aviation Strategic Acquisition and Programs Directorate, Strategic Contracting Division, to a place in the stratosphere of DLA where I could see the whole spectrum of activity, and view the impact of our business, inside and outside the organization. From the inner sanctums of the Pentagon to the deserts of the Middle East and to shipping across the globe, the ASOC serves as the eyes of the agency, contributing information to key decision makers across the Defense Department and the whole of government. 

Moving into the Agency Synchronization Operations Center was a move into the heart of DLA Logistics Operations. Over the past several months, I was privileged to be a part of many fascinating activities as I served as one of many sensors in the DLA “brain.”  As one of those sensors, my job was largely a coordinating and information sensing role, probably with a 30/70 split between the two.  I was an eyewitness and sometimes a contributor to the information flow affecting senior leaders’ decision making as they navigated the agency through complex operational environments, evolving crises, and incidents around the world. 

From natural disaster response to global health crisis support management to military support in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, I was part of it all.  Whether DLA is supplying meals to troops for holiday celebrations, fuels to support air and land operations, or repair parts for countless weapon systems, the scope of DLA business effects our warfighters on a global scale and the ASOC personnel continually monitor it all. 

Most of my time was spent absorbing, distilling, and summarizing a very broad swath of data in order to be keenly aware of the DLA Aviation operating environment including elevating system outages for faster visibility; briefing senior DLA leaders about our mapping mission; answering questions about repair parts needed for aircraft on the ground in the in the area of responsibility; participating in global exercise events; and answering countless other request for information in less than 24 hours. This included all the primary elements contained in a daily environment scan, utilization of the DLA Enterprise Dashboard, and especially involved frequent communication between senior leaders at home station in Richmond, Virginia and at the headquarters.  Finally, a key role of the job also involved influencing the way the ASOC does business and shapes the perspectives of senior leaders. As one of a team of the six major subordinate command liaison officers, I had many opportunities to communicate candidly about the tasks we do and how we do them. 

The opportunity to inject Aviation perspectives into these conversations, processes and decisions is valuable for the growth of the ASOC toward future expanded capability and is beneficial to the enterprise. 

My time serving in the ASOC ended Jan. 31, but the intensity of focus and earnest efforts of DLA’s people to make the mission happen worldwide has been on display brilliantly during my time here.  What we do is complicated and far from easy. What we do is often not anchored in certainty. Nevertheless, with selfless devotion and dedication, thousands of people work together to move essential supplies down range into the hands of Americans in harm’s way - no matter where they may be on the planet. I will always be proud to serve with the global DLA team.