News | Aug. 29, 2017

Director on Disposition: “small but mighty”

By Jake Joy

DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams made his first trip to Battle Creek, Michigan, Aug. 24 to receive a DLA Disposition Services organizational overview and facilities tour.

He said that his understanding and appreciation for the “small but mighty” part of the agency had steadily grown for the past few years.

“My respect for you is through the roof,” Williams said, citing the intense workload he observed at DLA Disposition Services sites in Afghanistan during the drawdown period of 2014. “I looked at the loads and loads of equipment that went to Disposition yards. There’s no way that [mass redeployment] happens without what you all did.”

He said that it was specifically because of the agency’s high-visibility support during the past decade in places like Iraq and Afghanistan that military planners at the highest level were finally considering and including their disposition needs earlier in the planning cycle.

“You’re now being considered at the very beginning of the operation,” Williams said. “It speaks to your impact. You’ve taken the level of your visibility and importance to a whole different level.”

He also called out the organization for its recent and ongoing assistance with Army equipment divestiture projects.

“Your efforts have been tremendously and greatly appreciated” in surging people to divestiture locations, he said. “An absolute home run, because of the over-and-above-the-line support you all have provided.”

In addition to the all hands event where he introduced himself, talked about the agency’s future and took questions from the workforce at large, he also spent hours receiving briefs on everything from an overview of the disposition lifecycle to more detailed explanations of sales figures, safety performance and ongoing network optimization efforts. On Network Optimization, Williams stressed the need for comprehensive, steady communications with any potentially displaced employees and said the organization needed to continue to do everything it could to minimize impact and “treat people right.”

He praised the organization’s culture, saying that he detected a highly confident field operation whose specialists felt they could reach back to headquarters with an expectation of full support. He said maintaining a positive work climate is “a total team effort,” and that when people do all the little things that go into creating a positive culture, then “the mission takes care of itself.”

In addition to Williams’ first visit to DLA Disposition Services’ headquarters, he ventured to the nearby Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, where he received a brief from regional Guard leadership on their partnership with DLA on exercises like the annual Overseas Contingency Operations Readiness Training, or “OCORT,” and the recent U.S. Transportation Command-led “Turbo Distribution” exercise.

While at the base, he also got a good look at the disposition training classroom, mock warehouse and skills-testing facilities where new employees and future deployment personnel receive instruction on skills like ammunition abatement, cutting, shearing, crushing and shredding operations, material handling equipment training and property receipt.

Williams ended his visit with equipment demonstrations and briefs on how the agency’s deployable civilians and its reserve military contingent train together and expect to deploy together with the ability to arrive almost anywhere in the world and set up a fully functional disposition yard within a week. He said the training and well-developed planning process made him want to deploy.

“I’m ready,” he said. “This has got me fired up.”