News | Oct. 1, 2019

DLA celebrates 58th birthday

By Colin Williams, DLA Historian

The Defense Logistics Agency’s birthday was a Sunday, Oct. 1, 1961. Army Lt. Gen. Andrew T. McNamara had just completed a tour as deputy commanding general for 8th U.S. Army in Korea and reported to his Pentagon office under Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara when he jotted out General Order No. 1 in pencil. By signing it, McNamara assumed leadership of an organization that had no people, no buildings and no policies to carry out its broad mission of providing efficient and economical wholesale logistics support to the nation’s military.

McNamara spent the following months building a team of about 100 planners, taking control of the Armed Forces Supply Support Center and finding office space in the Munitions Building in Washington, D.C. He became the senior leader of one service center and six supply centers by the agency’s first birthday and moved his staff and the Defense Petroleum Supply Center into converted warehouses at Cameron Station, Virginia. That same month, McNamara faced his first real test as director: supporting the mobilization of military forces during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

Much of how DLA conducts business today harkens back to decisions McNamara made in that temporary Pentagon office. The agency’s mission has changed and expanded since then, and 58 years later, DLA’s 25,000-plus employees provide world-class logistics support to military units, federal departments, local police forces and foreign governments.