Commentary: First-time deployee expands logistics and leadership knowledge

By Jajuan Evans, chief, Systems and Procedures Branch Procurement Process Support Directorate, DLA Aviation

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(Editor’s Note: Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Public Affairs Office recently learned that several DLA Aviation employees would be overlapping their deployments on DLA Support Team-Afghanistan. Below is Jajuan Evans’ commentary on his deployment experience. Evans deployed as a DLA Liaison Officer for Headquarters of Operations Resolute Support in Kabul, Afghanistan from August 2018 to February 2019. Back stateside, he serves as chief, Systems and Procedures Branch, Procurement Process Support Directorate, DLA Aviation.)

I first heard about DLA Support Team deployment opportunities from a co-worker.  I decided to deploy for both professional and personal reasons. I wanted the opportunity to support the warfighter on a more direct level, and saw this as a way to expand my knowledge of logistics and leadership. In addition, there were financial benefits.

The first day I arrived in country I was introduced to the DLA Support Team in Bagram, Afghanistan. I was invited to eat dinner with the DST deputy commander in the dining facility, and was pleasantly surprised by how good the food was.

That evening, I spent the night in a containerized housing unit for the first time; with an hour and a half or so of that night spent in a bunker due to what I will refer to as local fireworks.

The first day on the job was fairly easy. I spent most of the day meeting team members and getting settled in to my desk area. I quickly learned that my mission was to represent DLA in anyway necessary to ensure our customers’ logistical needs were supported.

I served as a DLA liaison officer for Headquarters Resolute Support in Kabul, Afghanistan. This position was truly liaison in every sense of the word. My primary role was to be the focal point for DLA within the military logistics cell in which I was embedded.  I reported directly to the Deputy Chief of Staff Support Directorate, working under Air Force Brig. Gen. Martin Chapin,  who was the chief of the Logistics Cell and also a former DLA Energy commander. On a daily basis, I tracked food and fuel stock levels to ensure the required days of supply were maintained, and participated in any discussions requiring DLA support. I communicated with our DST Team in Bagram regularly to gather and share any information regarding critical logistical issues.

Every team member is important and what we all do contributes to a successful DST Team. In my position, I helped ensure cohesiveness and communication among the many logistics and operations channels that impact mission objectives in country.

I really enjoyed working on a NATO base and having the opportunity to interact with coalition forces from several NATO supporting countries.

This position allowed me to gain a better understanding of the logistics life cycle. The most satisfying aspect of the job was the ability to impact combat logistics in a real time environment. I assisted the headquarters, director of logistics in resolving issues regarding the use of DLA Disposition Services to dispose of NATO funded equipment. This resulted in demilitarization and disposal of 14 vehicles. I participated on an International Agreements and Customs Coordination Cell and Afghanistan Ministry of Interior working group to implement the new dry goods procedures using the Automated System for Customs Data. I also coordinated the expedited procurement of critical safety equipment at the request of the deputy chief of staff support director.  

Interacting directly with warfighters has been the most eye-opening experience. Their sacrifices deserve the upmost respect.

I would suggest to my fellow co-workers considering deployment to be prepared for long but rewarding work hours.