New DLA Joint Reserve Force leader to keep focus on readiness

By Beth Reece

PRINT  |  E-MAIL

More than 650 reservists assigned throughout Defense Logistics Agency directorates and major subordinate commands play a vital role in warfighter support, said their new boss, DLA Joint Reserve Force Director Navy Rear Adm. Grafton Chase. 

The 33-year veteran considers himself a long-term DLA customer, one who relied heavily on the expertise of local commodity, distribution and disposal experts in his previous assignment as head of readiness and logistics for U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa. 

Taking over DLA’s JRF is a great opportunity to lead service members who are already proving their worth, he said. In fiscal 2019, 85 DLA reservists deployed overseas and 129 served on active duty in the United States. They contributed to military training exercises, the Audit Task Force, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Nine are currently stationed in Bagram with DLA Disposition Services. And some are even assigned to DLA’s new 24-hour Agency Synchronization Operations Center.

“We keep getting requests for more support from our reservists, and that’s a great thing because it shows they’re appreciated,” Chase said. 

He credits retired Navy Rear Adm. Deborah Haven, former DLA JRF director, for emphasizing reservists’ medical, physical and mental readiness to deploy. A believer in the train-like-you-fight ethos, Chase plans to strengthen their ability to succeed in contingency operations by grouping reservists in functional areas rather than by service.

“My goal is to get our reservists to work side by side with each other. Now, when they’re doing mission support at the MSCs [major subordinate commands], we’ve got the Army element assigned to one warehouse, for example, and the Navy element somewhere else. We need to emulate how we’ll operate in the fight,” he said. 

Chase summed up his expectations of the JRF with what he calls the “Three B’s” – be proficient, be ready and be safe. 

“Every member of the team should strive toward professional development and be proficient in their support to DLA and the billet they’re assigned to,” he said. “And readiness is more than medical and physical readiness. We must be emotionally and spiritually ready to go forward, and our families also have to be prepared.” 

Ensuring service members are safe is one of leaders’ toughest challenges, he added. While deployed for operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, Chase recognized that many of the sailors in his care were the same ages as his son and two daughters, who are now 31, 27 and 19. 

“Even here, the majority of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are the ages of my kids. I feel my responsibility as a leader, much like being a parent, is to train them and set them off on success,” he said, adding that he feels military members are part of his extended family.

When not on active duty, Chase is the deputy chief for the Coast Guard’s Office of Reserve Affairs, where he works on policy changes like the current revamp of reserve duty status that he said will make it easier for reservists from all the services to go on and off orders to deal with unexpected events like family emergencies.

Military service is a “family affair,” the Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, native added. His grandfather served in the New Jersey National Guard during World War I, his father was in the Navy during World War II, and his sister is a retired Army colonel.