Defense Working Group visits Columbus DLA installation

By Craig M. Rader DLA Land and Maritime

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Members of the Central Ohio Defense Working Group held their quarterly meeting at Defense Supply Center Columbus for a firsthand look at the installation’s contributions to global defense and its local economic impact.

The Mar. 3 roundtable discussion included members of local and state political offices, civic leaders, non-profit representatives and military stakeholders. The meetings usually rotate among the participants’ sites and facilities. Topics included improving public-private partnerships, infrastructure development and workforce challenges and opportunities.

The group’s purpose is to bring members of the defense community together to ensure employers have everything they need to successfully complete their mission, said Steve Tugend, chairman of the Columbus Region Defense Group.

“There’s a major ‘behind-the-scenes’ impact that central Ohio has on the defense community, both nationally and globally,” Tugend said. “There are a number of agencies at this installation alone (DSCC) that significantly contribute to national defense and it’s astonishing to consider their global influence in supporting the warfighter.”

Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime has the largest presence on the installation, with more than 2,500 military and civilian employees. Defense Finance and Accounting Service makes up the majority of the rest of DSCC’s workforce.  

DFAS Columbus supports military services and large buying commands within the Department of Defense such as the Air Force and Army materiel commands, through contract payments and accounting.

Land and Maritime provides logistics support for the Armed Forces, which includes purchasing materiel, monitoring inventory levels, maintaining technical data and assuring quality conformance on more than 2 million spare and repair parts.  

Some of the attendees asked how federal executive orders had affected operations at DSCC, including retention and recruitment of qualified applicants. Since many positions at DLA and DFAS require specific job skills in addition to a security background check, the hiring process can often take much longer than private sector positions.

DLA Land and Maritime Chief of Staff Griff Warren said the agency’s robust internship program alleviates some of the challenges currently facing the federal workforce. Participants can receive full-time positions at competitive salaries after successful completion of the agency’s 2-year Pathways to Career Excellence (PaCE) program.

Site Director Dan Bell said the installation security forces’ ability to adapt to changing demands has also greatly contributed to the continuity of operations at DSCC, and he commended the workforce. He said many of the law enforcement officers, safety coordinators and firefighters are veterans and remain thoroughly committed to warfighter support.

“The best asset we have in Columbus is a workforce that respects the uniform and respects the American flag,” Tugend said. “It’s important for this group to meet frequently so we can continue our support for our defense community, and identify ways to improve that support.”

The meeting concluded with a driving tour around the installation, visiting storage and disposition facilities, police and fire prevention assets, Ohio National Guard and other military support offices at DSCC.