Training the next generation of warfighter supporters goes virtual during pandemic

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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When Defense Logistics Agency Pathways to Career Excellence Class 39 kicked off March 16, 20-year Army veteran Daryl Johnson was among the 30 members embarking on the two-year journey.

“Procuring equipment and supplies for the warfighter gives me the sense that I am still serving and I am doing my due diligence to my country by procuring the best supplies, parts and equipment the warfighter needs to be successful across the globe,” Johnson said. 

The DLA Pathways to Career Excellence Program trains entry-level employees for advancement in supply, technical quality, procurement and finance fields through on-the-job work assignments, cross-training, rotational assignments and formal instruction. Johnson and his classmates were still in-processing into DLA when the agency launched a maximum telework policy March 23 due to COVID-19.

“I thought to myself, how can I learn and be effective in what I want to do so passionately if I do not have the technical skills or experience in procuring what the warfighter needs to complete their mission? Will we be able to train, or will we have to wait until the COVID-19 subsides?  How are we going to train without any electronic devices or resources if we are just arriving to the organization?” he said.

Procurement Training Branch officials quickly provided equipment and found creative ways to present material in a virtual environment using the Defense Collaboration Services platform to train via video and upload and share documents. Nineteen participants are progressing through virtual instruction as the other 11, all contracting interns, complete the program’s on-the-job training element.

“This was new and challenging for everyone,” said Natarsha Goode, chief of the Procurement Process Support Directorate’s Training Branch. “Through teamwork, communication, creativity and, most of all, resilience, we all have been successful in continuing the training mission for not only the PaCERs, but also in meeting the training needs of the existing acquisition workforce.”

While there have been some technology challenges, seeing students’ progress has been rewarding for instructors, added Peg Hastings, a procurement analyst and PaCE instructor who conducted virtual training on posting awards for the previous class.

“We are largely responsible for their success in the program, and this requires a great deal of preparation and adaptability,” Hastings said, also applauding employees for adapting to virtual training although many would have preferred in-person instruction.

Links to the three-part PaCE series:

Part I: DLA PaCE Program bringing in the best of the best in quest for superior support to the nation’s warfighters - https://www.dla.mil/AboutDLA/News/NewsArticleView/Article/2163408/dla-pace-program-bringing-in-the-best-of-the-best-in-quest-for-superior-support/

Part II: DLA PaCEr halfway to fulfilling career milestone - https://www.dla.mil/AboutDLA/News/NewsArticleView/Article/2172435/dla-pacer-halfway-to-fulfilling-career-milestone/

Part III: DLA PaCE Program celebrates 20 years of excellence - https://www.dla.mil/AboutDLA/News/NewsArticleView/Article/2180959/dla-pace-program-celebrates-20-years-of-excellence/