Agency’s first forum with Corps of Engineers proves successful

By Dianne Ryder

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The director of the Defense Logistics Agency welcomed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DLA leaders to the inaugural USACE/DLA Day at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Sept. 28, to explore mutual goals and capabilities.

“Obviously, being inside the Army, I have a tremendous appreciation for what engineers bring both to the battlefields and the civil works side of the house,” said Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams. “I’m excited about this event even more than the other forums we’ve had – largely because I think it’s an area of such untapped potential.”

As Williams introduced Army Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, commanding general of USACE, he spoke of potential synergies between the two organizations and the opportunity for further relationship growth.

“I think there’s a great deal that we are already doing, but … there’s even more that you can learn from us and that we can learn and do for you,” Williams said. “I hope today to tease out some of those potential areas of mutual interest.”

Semonite thanked Williams and said he appreciated all the work that went into planning the event.

“This started out as a concept with one of your deputies and I, and it really has built into a great opportunity,” Semonite said. “I don’t know about everything that DLA brings to the fight. We want to know more about what you bring and what you deliver, and we want to make sure you understand what we do and what we deliver.”

This year, USACE has completed $34 billion in construction, he added.

“We’re building in 110 different countries,” he said. “But at the end of the day, what’s more important than [constructing] a building, building a harbor, or building a dam somewhere is building a relationship.”

Semonite expressed his concern for keeping the forum on the calendar as a recurring meeting, since both his and Williams’ plans are often overcome by other events. He also suggested USACE and DLA may not be relying on each other as much as they should in support of the defense department and the nation.

“We can’t afford to be inefficient,” Semonite said. “We have to figure out how to lean on each other, to be stronger … working side-by-side, not trying to go out on our own.”

Discussion topics included: “USACE 101,” and “DLA 101,” which provided attendees a better understanding of each organizations’ mission; opportunities for prime vendor support and warehousing; USACE civil works operations; maintenance, repair and operations; and review of taskers.

At the end of the session, Williams said the day exceeded his expectations.

“What has impressed me today is the real similarities between your organization and ours,” he said to Semonite. “We really do have a lot of the same challenges.”

Williams compared USACE to a holistic defense entity rather than one focused solely on the Army.

“We typically only do these service days with our [military] services … but I really believe the Corps of Engineers rises to that level,” he said. “My recommendation is that we maintain this forum, because I think the opportunities are too great.”

Semonite was equally enthusiastic, suggesting that USACE host DLA leaders in 6 months.

“In our organization, people are making smart decisions to go with DLA, because it’s a good value,” he said. “I’m going to challenge my guys to continue to find that value and … to lean on you as much as we can.”