DLA Aviation employees at Ogden welcome new commander

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Public Affairs Office

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In the Landing Ballroom on Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation at Ogden employees gathered July 23 to say farewell to their outgoing commander while welcoming their new commander.

Air Force Brig. Gen. David Sanford officiated the change of command ceremony. It was one of his first official acts since assuming command of DLA Aviation July 9.

Sanford welcomed attendees saying, “[Today’s ceremony] is steeped in tradition, but today is more than just the passing of a flag.  Today highlights the special calling we all chose to be part of…that is the profession of arms.”

The outgoing commander, Air Force Col. Paul Smith, assumed command of DLA Aviation at Ogden in 2018 and officially retired from the Air Force July 25.

Sanford, who has known Smith for several years, said Smith set high standards for himself and his unit. “He [understood] how all the different cogs fit together to generate capabilities for our warfighters,” he said. “He built trust.”

In saying farewell to his team, Smith said the DLA Aviation at Ogden mission motivates the team to “bear hug other logistics stakeholders to prevent and resolve sustainment issues.”

Smith thanked all of the enterprise partners present saying, “Logistical challenges are best resolved when all partners are in the same boat in close proximity and rowing hard together.”

While under Smith’s command, the industrial support activity team slashed backorders 14%, reduced [additions to original materials requests,] prevented work stoppages and increased the number of parts on the shelf and order response time to an all-time high.

In welcoming the new commander, Sanford said he has also known Col. Gabriel ‘Gabe” Lopez for several years and that he is a tremendous leader and logistician. “DLA Aviation is lucky and better off that he is joining our team,” he said. Then he joked, “He comes to us all the way from … down the street.”

Prior to assuming command at Ogden, Lopez served as the commander, 75th Mission Support Group where he led a workforce of 1,400 providing installation support for the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, two fighter wings and 51 other associated units, totaling 26,000 active duty, civilian and contractor personnel as well as 50,000 retirees. His group was also responsible for deploying combat-ready airmen from across the installation to Air and Space Expeditionary Forces. 

Lopez is a career logistics readiness officer and has served in a variety of positions at the squadron, group, wing and headquarters levels.

Having just finished two years supporting the Team Hill mission partners in a completely different capacity, Lopez said he is very aware of the strategic importance of each of the various missions on the installation; and those that he is unfamiliar with, he will learn.

To achieve DLA’s mission statement “To sustain warfighter readiness and lethality by delivering proactive global logistics …,” Lopez said [readiness] requires simplified processes, relationships and teamwork to continually adapt those processes in uncertain environments. 

“It’s already been a good morning and I’ve been very impressed with the caliber of people I’ll get to work with,” he said. “I’m ready to listen, to learn and eager to be part of the DLA team and find areas where I can contribute. I look forward to meeting each of you and working together to deliver airpower solutions.”