FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
As the world slowly moves back to a semblance of normal, over 50 Defense Logistics Agency Joint Reserve Force leaders gathered to discuss the importance of readiness during their Annual Leadership Review at the McNamara Headquarters Complex June 10-12.
After two years of primarily virtual meetings, the in-person ALR allowed for candid discussion, networking, and direct communication between services and joint-team leaders within the major subordinate commands. By highlighting accomplishments and challenges faced over the past year, the JRF looks to become a better prepared team, JRF Director Navy Rear Adm. Grafton Chase said during opening remarks.
“It’s great to be back together – grip-and-grin with someone you don’t know, learn about them and what they do. That’s the most important thing about meeting face-to-face,” Chase said. “Senior leaders don’t know everything, but we should know who to call. That’s the point of networking. Develop your network, so when a problem does arise, you know who to contact in the team.”
JRF members played an integral role in the success of DLA’s mission in the past year, DLA Vice Director Brad Bunn said . From providing 3,900 workdays of mission support in areas like the Agency Synchronization and Operations Center to helping reduce National Stock Number fraud by $2.7 million , DLA reservists understand that the daily support they provide affects warfighter readiness.
“It's easy to get hyper-focused when you're still in the fight,” Bunn said during the ALR. “The purpose of these events is to reset the larger big picture of where the agency fits in the bigger picture.
“Since 9/11, over 2,100 DLA reservists have deployed on behalf of DLA. Just this year so far, 47 personnel have been deployed. That's a pretty significant number given how small the force is. Within DLA, when we have a need, whether it's a contingency or we need to mobilize people, we call the reserve force.”
With a mission to provide DLA with trained and deployment-ready reservists, it’s critical that members of the JRF place readiness at the forefront, in and out of uniform, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka O'Neal said. Readiness is often overlooked, with the assumption that it is constantly attended to, O’Neal continued.
“I don't like assumptions. I like to know verifiable information,” O'Neal said, adding that DLA has 663 reservists 512 active-duty members. “Now, isn't that something? My reserve components outweigh the workforce of my active-duty component personnel. That information is extremely important to me because if I don’t have the active force, where do we go?
“A lot of you are professionals in at least two positions and some maybe even three. So when I speak about readiness, not only do I speak from a uniform perspective — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Guardians — I speak from a family perspective as well. They have to be ready too. Our job is to support the nation. When duty calls, that is what we do.”
With Chase’s time as the JRF director coming to an end June 24 he stressed the importance of becoming a predictive leader through critical thinking and learning.
“If the president authorizes 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000 troops to move in a particular area, what are they going to need?” Chase asked. “Troop Support is going to be busy feeding them, Distribution is going to be busy and you need fuel to move the troops, so DLA Energy is going to be busy too. When world events are happening, we need to pay attention. Being able to anticipate and prepare for things, instead of being reactive, is important as a leader.”
Leaders were encouraged to return to their units after the event with open discussion in mind. Chase said they should never underestimate their influence, and in a joint environment, working as one unit is critical to mission success.
“It's a team effort,” Chase said. “Based on my experience of rowing, no matter how good you may be, everybody crosses the line at the same time.”