Reserve members gather for joint leadership review

By Dianne Ryder


While most Defense Logistics Agency employees were gearing up for a weekend respite, more than 75 members of DLA’s Joint Reserve Force gathered at the McNamara Headquarters Complex at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, for their Mid-Year Leadership Review, March 16-18.


The focus was on inspiring all hands to take action to align, drive and execute the DLA Strategic Plan, noted Navy Capt. Roger Musselman, executive officer for the JRF. The reservists also discussed their work in the context of the National Defense Strategy and the J9 Annual Operating Plan, Musselman said, emphasizing “individual readiness, MSC-specific plus regional training and the overall need for continued integration,” he said.


In addition to the joint team leaders from the MSCs, the event brought in the Army team leaders and senior enlisted leaders, said Army Col. Ronnie Davis, the JRF Army Reserve Element chief of staff. “We are normally thought of as ‘augmentees,’ but now we’re regionally aligning our MSC reserves in support of the warfighters,” Davis said.


Davis said the JRF currently has 57 reserve men and women deployed overseas, plus those assigned to DLA headquarters.


The JRF has reserves in all six of the major subordinate commands and at DLA Headquarters, where the JRF is “supporting or providing reserves in DLA Acquisition, the Joint Logistics Operations Center and DLA Energy,” Davis said. Overall, there are 662 reservist billets in JRF across all four branches of service.


The leadership review is also an opportunity for open discussion and networking, said Navy Rear Adm. Deborah Haven, DLA JRF director. Networking opportunities were plentiful at the event, including briefings from senior leaders such as DLA Vice Director Ted Case and Army Brig. Gen. Douglas Cherry, Army Reserve chief of staff for the 76th Operational Response Command in Salt Lake City, Utah.


The big picture was a key point of emphasis, Haven noted, as the JRF members continue “to gain more knowledge about the complexity of DLA and understand the mission, not just from their MSC, but from the overall [enterprise perspective],” she said. “As leaders, they need to be more integrated.”


Objective 2.5 of DLA’s Strategic Plan emphasizes the need to further integrate the JRF, particularly in the expeditionary mission.


“This year marks the first time reservists have been written into the strategic plan,” Haven said. “It actually calls out that we need to have our expeditionary capabilities integrated into the DLA mission.”


In addition to aligning JRF units regionally, reservists are being trained to actively participate in military exercises, Musselman said.


“Part of our plan is to get trained up so our people are better vetted and prepared to assume roles when the call goes up — should it go up,” he said. “We’re aggressively seeking exercise support elements where we can get our people in to learn by being out there on the exercises.”


Haven said there’s an increased focus on reserve members getting first-hand knowledge of training on an exercise. “Going on one of those exercises is the perfect way to flex our muscles to see if we can perform in a simulated wartime environment,” she said. “That’s where the rubber meets the road; they have to learn about the country specifics [and to] understand what the rules of engagement are there on the ground.”


Musselman said in 2017, fewer than 40 reservists supported the exercises. “This year we’re trying to get 157 members out to 19 different exercises.”


There are challenges getting reservists to the locations they’re most needed, but Musselman said the JRF works closely with DLA Logistics Operations planners to review support plans and manpower reviews. For example, the JRF strives to mirror the Rapid Deployment Teams by forming reserve DLA Support Teams, trained to be familiar with a variety of regions and mission requirements. That way, reservists are “more aware and ready to go in support of the mission,” Musselman said. Davis pointed out that while RDTs focus on rapid deployment, the reserves are focused on sustainment capability.


“It’s an information pool, really. The senior leaders are coming in to highlight their unit’s capabilities and efforts to support their respective MSCs,” he said. “We’re ambassadors for the whole agency.”


Musselman agreed. “Every MSC JTL is going to ‘sell’ why they’re the best, and the skill sets they bring — the idea is to broaden the aperture,” he said. “What we’re starting to see is a cross-pollination of support [across the MSCs] and by talking to each other … They get the opportunity to learn about different valuable skill sets that other ones might have that they weren’t aware of.”


Haven said it’s important to “stretch” and energize the reserve members to learn more about their role in DLA’s mission.


“We’re also going to be showing how the National Defense Strategy — which everyone was charged to read ahead — maps to the DLA Strategic Plan,” Haven said. “In the NDS, the word ‘integration’ is used at least 30 times, so that’s what we’re trying to hammer home.”


Haven stressed that many reserve members have civilian careers, reserve careers and families and are active in their communities.


“This is really demanding on them,” Haven noted. “They’ve figured out how to perform at a high level and be highly effective but in a compressed period, and I think that’s what’s so attractive about the reserves,” she said. “They come in, they easily identify the problem — and they get it done.”