News | Aug. 4, 2017

Stay fit, involved, ready, DLA director urges service members at military breakfast

By John Bell

Military service members on duty at the Defense Logistics Agency headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, participated in a day of fellowship, fitness and focus on the mission Aug. 4, during the director’s first DLA 5K Run, Military Breakfast and Picnic.

The day began with an early-morning 5K run led by the command team of DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams and Navy Command Master Chief Shaun Brahmsteadt, the agency’s senior enlisted leader.

About 100 members from all branches of the services at the McNamara Headquarters Complex participated. Although the event was not timed, the first-place finishers were Navy Lt. Cdr. Ryan Stickel for the men and Army Sgt. 1st Class Yadriana Kavitz for the women.

According to Brahmsteadt, the run will become a quarterly event.

Following the run, Williams spoke at the breakfast and presented his trademark “Ya Done Good” award certificate to Navy Capt. Daniel Pionk. Pionk recently volunteered to serve on two Funeral Honors Details, each one returning to family the remains of a sailor killed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Pionk presented an American flag to the family members of the two sailors, who hailed from his home state of Minnesota.

As the director addressed the group, he emphasized things DLA’s 517 military service members should keep in mind as they serve at DLA — and announced new things in store for the agency this year.

He began by urging military members not to relax their grooming or fitness standards while deployed to DLA. “We are all professionals, but oftentimes when people work outside their services, they have a tendency to relax,” Williams said. “But DLA is not a place where you come to take a knee.”

In fact, he suggested that those in uniform at the agency hold themselves to an even higher standard; with so few military at DLA, each is even more visible as a representative of his or her service, the director noted.

This is all the more important, given that “anyone in this room could still be deployed on a moment’s notice,” Williams said, recalling that DLA has been asked to help with fast-breaking disaster relief and humanitarian assistance efforts in recent years.

“No one should have to tell us to be ready,” he added.

That readiness also means staying fit, Williams noted. In a joint environment with no regular military formations, “it’s easy to have every intention to get to the [gym] but just not make it,” he said. “But I for one will not have a lot of empathy or sympathy for those who don’t meet the [fitness] standards.”

The general also urged service members to make sure they don’t sit on the sidelines. “Don’t accept the idea that you should not be involved,” Williams said. “Take full advantage of this joint experience. And that means taking advantage of these high-level discussions. I expect you to be involved.”

Williams offered the group a look at changes in store for the agency, starting with the Strategic Plan. “I was extraordinarily impressed” with the existing plan, he said. But given the rapid pace of change in the world, a new plan will be released in mid-November, following two upcoming meetings with the Executive Board in the meantime.

The new plan, Williams said, will put greater focus on DLA’s whole-of-government support. “We are and always will be a Warfighter First agency,” he said. “But we cannot ignore the emerging prominence” of DLA’s critical support to other federal agencies.

“Twenty percent of our sales are to organizations not associated with the military services, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” the director noted.

That interagency support is related to the second area Williams said will also see more focus in the new Strategic Plan: Rapid and expeditionary deployments.

The general also reminded his fellow service members of the importance of stepping up, no matter your rank. The level of individual initiative “is one thing that separates our military from every other military in the world,” Williams observed.

He recounted a visit to a U.S. military dental clinic in Afghanistan on a Sunday, finding the only staff on duty was a single private first class — a hygienist. She had given the dentist, a captain, the day off.

“Who’s in charge?” Williams recalled asking.

“Sir, I’m in charge” was the answer.

That “take charge” mentality exists across the U.S. military, through all ranks and branches, Williams noted. “One person really does make a difference.”

The director’s final announcement was of the upcoming DLA Ball, scheduled for Nov. 16. He encouraged all present to attend in uniform.

“This is about our service to the nation — that you represent thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the field, who we don’t ever want to forget. So I know you will be proud to put on that uniform,” he said.

The audience responded with a resounding cheer.

“You are a huge part of the heart and soul of this agency,” the director said. “Your services sent you to get the joint experience but also to bring the combat flavor to DLA."