Assignment with DLA Troop Support broadens soldier’s perspective

By Shawn J. Jones DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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When Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Timothy Hagans arrived at the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support in December 2013 for a career broadening assignment, he said he wasn’t sure what to expect. But he knew it wouldn’t be like the first 25 years of his military career.

“I soon realized the assignment would be challenging,” said Hagans, a food service technician serving in DLA Troop Support’s Subsistence supply chain.

And that’s exactly what a broadening assignment is supposed be.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Donaldson, who manages the broadening program for Army food advisors, said broadening assignments allow soldiers to gain knowledge and skills that complement those they acquired through Army service.

“Serving at DLA Troop Support allows CW4 Hagans to gain a wider view of how the Army is supported globally from a holistic view and supports his development in preparing him for assignments of greater responsibility when he returns back to the Army,” Donaldson said.

Subsistence professionals at DLA Troop Support manage the supply chain that ensures the military services have access to food and food service equipment.

Donaldson said Hagans’ tour at DLA Troop Support is also valuable because Hagans has been able to serve in a liaison-like role, facilitating communication between DLA Troop Support and the Army.

“He is able to help the Army’s major commands communicate with DLA Troop Support on how we receive support from them,” Donaldson said. “He also helps in the continued education process of the DLA Troop Support staff that might not be familiar with the Army way of doing business.”

Army Lt. Col. Abel Young, the Subsistence director, said Hagans and other Army warrant officers help the supply chain strike a balance between meeting day-to-day demands and sustaining the warfighters’ operational readiness.

“He has been the catalyst in enhancing our flexibility, agility and anticipatory capabilities necessary in providing the warfighter and the American people phenomenal food service,” Young said. 

Broadening assignments force service members to work outside their normal professional channels, Donaldson said.

“Since this was my first time in a predominately civilian organization and in a strategic environment, I would say that my biggest challenge was getting integrated and understanding who was who and who did what in the organization,” Hagans said.

He overcame the challenge by being proactive.

To better integrate with Troop Support’s people and processes, Hagans said he made a concerted effort to ask a lot of questions and stay connected to the organization’s current issues by ensuring he was included on all relevant email distribution lists.

Additionally, the broadening assignment exposed Hagans to the food service operations of the other military branches. As a member of DLA Troop Support’s Integrated Food Service initiative, he was exposed to food service programs of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard.

During the assignment, Hagans also contributed to disaster relief operations. Most recently, he assisted with Defense support to civil authorities operations in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. He worked with FEMA personnel to plan the distribution of food and water supplies from commercial vendors.

Overall, DLA Troop Support provided more than 100 million meals as part of relief efforts. Hagans assessed timelines and risk related to production and distribution, and consolidated reports to inform Troop Support leadership.

Hagans said his Troop Support co-workers’ response to the hurricanes made a favorable and lasting impression on him.

“I’ve seen DLA Troop Support employees diligently work hours and hours to ensure customers’ requirements are met and products are at the right place at the right time,” he said. “The end result was a successful and efficient disaster relief mission.”

Going forward, Hagans said he expects his broadening experience to pay dividends.

“I’m confident I will leave here with the necessary skills to plan and support food operations in complex environments, at home and abroad,” he said. “Simply put, DLA Troop Support has been one of the most rewarding assignments of my career.”