As the Defense Logistics Agency Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Albert Miller wrapped up his first 90 days in command, he sat down with public affairs to share some highlights and expectations for the coming year.
What stands out for you as first impressions of DLA Energy?
Everyone I have met has been tremendous in their knowledge. I’m really excited about my time here. DLA Energy has a workforce that is doing amazing things for our nation. It’s not just for the Department of Defense, but our whole of government partners as well – especially when it comes to humanitarian needs. My first week here I got a view of the hurricane recovery relief efforts and what DLA Energy teams do to support response operations. Also, one of my first honors as the commander was to preside over the 2018 DLA Energy Hall of Fame ceremony and recognize the contributions and legacy of four leaders that had a huge impact on the organization.
Recently, the DLA director released the results of the 2018 DLA Culture and Climate Survey. What are some of the DLA Energy-specific results and key takeaways?
The attitude of everyone I encounter validates the results of the climate survey. DLA Energy can take pride in a 22.2 percent increase in the 12 indexes that are measured along with receiving the highest ever index score of 66. Going forward, it’s important to sustain the great culture and create a comprehensive culture action plan that is suitable for the workforce. It’s also vital to measure the impact of the Warfighter support – culture for effectiveness. I want everyone to be satisfied (and happy) and proud to work for DLA Energy. Culture will drive everything – the organization, the command, and
in the end – support to the Warfighter.
Speaking of people and culture, what are some efforts aimed at developing the DLA Energy workforce?
DLA Energy is developing the workforce through the three standing workforce councils - culture council, supervisory council and training council which encourages multi-level transparent communication within our organization. In addition, we introduced the DLA Energy Career Management Portfolio resource and are encouraging DLA Energy nominees for the Executive Development Program – all these efforts are aimed at developing the DLA Energy workforce.
How do you feel your past experience prepares you for the leadership role here as a major subordinate command?
It’s my joint experiences that prepares me, coming from a kinetic environment. At CENTCOM, I saw day to day how DLA Energy’s mission unfolded and the hurdles they had to overcome. It was very valuable to get a DLA perspective in that particular theater. As the chief of plans for the joint staff, I understood how important planning and logistics is to DLA Energy. Most importantly, in my very first assignment in the Air Force as a tanker pilot, I saw the very tactical end of what DLA Energy provides in fuel to joint and coalition partners. For me in my experience, it came full circle from the tactical to the strategic view point.
How does the battle rhythm differ from an operational environment to a staff environment?
Different but the same. I came from an operational assignment in the Middle East as the director, U.S. Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center and the deputy director, CENTCOM Logistics and Engineering Directorate, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where it was very dynamic. Energy is a lot like that with day-to-day mission support operations around the world, as we keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in every theater of the globe. There is an incredible amount of work going on to ensure the services are getting the energy they need to accomplish their mission – whether training or operational. There is also an important deliberate planning piece to ensure we are postured to support the department’s vision and readiness goals and we’re ready to answer the call when it comes to having Energy where it needs to be for our services around the globe.
How does Energy’s Dynamic Operating Plan connect with the agency’s priorities into 2019 of continued Warfighter support, audit support and defense reform?
- Warfighter support will focus heavily on combatant command changing requirements in an efficient and innovative way that drives our energy support to the Warfighter.
- Defense reform initiative will grow through utility contracts. The U.S. Navy has agreed to use an annual contract agent for their utilities that will provide a cost-savings of $2.4 million for the Department of Defense. Additionally, the Air Force is piloting the development of an Energy-as-a-Service program at two bases. To meet their energy needs, DLA Energy can bundle energy to support utilities (infrastructure, maintenance, energy support) in a regulated and non-regulated environment.
- Audit support efforts are working hard to establish a beginning balance for fiscal year 2019. We are providing evidential matter that validates processes at 98 site locations through fiscal year 2018. This goal will reflect DLA Energy as the first in DLA to assert a beginning balance for fiscal year 2019. Additionally DLA Energy is the lead for three Notice of Findings and Recommendations which involve a comprehensive analysis with the responsible office to remediate and correct the NFR.
What is your vision and goals for the organization over the next couple years?
Having the assumption of command and strategic offsite with the region commanders was extremely beneficial right up front. We looked at the strategy map and what was accomplished for last year and what we can expect for the upcoming year. My vision is right in line with the previous DLA Energy vision; we are synchronized with the director’s strategy map for all of DLA which supports the secretary of defense’s top three priorities. We are going to focus on our dynamic operating plan to ensure we have achievable initiatives for the fiscal year with measurable goals to move the enterprise forward. We’re looking forward to being proactive of the Warfighter’s needs and how to support the National Defense Strategy Dynamic Force Employment (PDF). Collaboration is essential for success.
How do you see DLA Energy improving readiness and combat capability for the Warfighter?
Through strategic, deliberate planning for potential contingencies and Warfighter needs. Every single day DLA Energy provides fuel to the services for training and making sure they have it where they need it for war plans. This is our bread and butter, day-to-day operations.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Empowering leadership. I absolutely trust people to do their job. They’re the experts. I want them to be bold and look at the factors and if it’s appropriate for them to make a decision at their level, I want them to do that. If the decision is not at their level, I expect an open dialogue and the need to communicate issues up the chain to the appropriate level to make the decision. We have an incredible workforce that knows their job and knows it better than anybody else. If they are the right person to make a decision, they need to know that I trust them to make the right decision. Maintaining balance is another tenant of mine. We can’t have everyone sprinting through a marathon, we have to maintain balance and not run out of gas. I also can’t overemphasize the importance of respecting everyone’s dignity and working together to achieve goals.
What are your expectations of your senior DLA Energy leaders?
Trust – I absolutely trust my senior leaders. I want them to lead boldly. Make decisions and empower their personnel. That’s how we build our bench of future leaders to step in when we move on. I want them to develop, mentor and empower our younger leaders. We can do this by emphasizing the tools provided in the DLA Energy Career Management Portfolio that outlines a variety of professional growth opportunities both within DLA and across the government to help employees build individual development plans and manage their career.
What are you most looking forward to during your assignment with DLA Energy?
Getting to know the people, and what they need. The more you know the people, the better you understand their issues and the amazing things they are doing. That’s what recharges my battery – it’s not sitting in front of a computer monitor, it’s engaging face-to-face and asking what I can do for them to make their job better. Our employees are our greatest resource and with that in mind, we are committed to providing the skills, tools and supportive resources that empower them to meet the demands of DLA Energy’s current and future mission requirements.
Being a geographically-separated military spouse how do you and your family handle separation, especially with school-aged children?
Technology becomes a double-edged sword. I Facetime my family all the time. I’m only one time zone away compared to being in theater with a 10 hour time difference. Virtually we do some deliberate things like eat dinner together, play cards and have conversations. It is hard, emotionally challenging, while missing important years of my children’s life. My advice for those who deploy is to take a family vacation away from home so you can really connect as a family without distractions. We’ve already made plans like that. It’s also really important to thank the family for their support. The real heroes are the children, they are along for the ride and never had a vote for this lifestyle.
Sounds like you enjoy outdoor activities and recreational sports … what else makes you human?
Family first. Then recreational skeet shooting and scuba diving.
In closing, I’m really excited and couldn’t be more humbled and proud for this opportunity to lead an amazing group of Warfighter supporters, and I look forward to meeting as many people as I can. I look forward to seeing you at the Worldwide Energy Conference scheduled for May 2019. New this year, we will have a venue I like to call “speed dating,” which is a means of networking in a structured environment right at the beginning of the conference. I’m also excited to bring the regional and incoming commanders to the event so both can engage and collaborate.