DLA Energy celebrates 75th birthday

By Irene Smith DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Seventy-five years ago, Defense Logistics Agency Energy, known then as the Army-Navy Petroleum Board, was founded to provide critical petroleum requirements during the war. World War II in Europe had ended while the war in the Pacific was still being fought. Oil, in all its forms, was the lifeblood of the Allied War effort.

Processed or refined, oil was indispensable material for laying runways, making toluene (the chief component of TNT) for bombs, manufacturing of synthetic rubber for tires, and distilling into gasoline for trucks, tanks, jeeps, and airplanes. Packaged in 55-gallon drums and hauled to the front lines by any transportation possible, oil also served as a lubricant for guns and machinery. 

Over the years, the Agency underwent several name changes but its mission of providing petroleum and lubricants remained the same. In 1962, it became a part of the consolidated military supply organization, the Defense Supply Agency, located in Cameron Station, Alexandria, Virginia. In 1964, the Center was designated the Defense Fuel Supply Center as a single entity to purchase and manage the Defense Department’s petroleum products and coal.

Margo Falls, a DLA Energy Direct Delivery employee, started work at the Center in Cameron Station in 1968.

“I started out as a summer intern, took the Civil Service Exam, and worked in Building 8 as a file clerk working in fuels,” she said. “I really enjoyed working there. Back then they had a commissary, exchange, cafeteria along with a non-commission officers club and officers club.”

Cindy Smith, Deputy Director for Strategic Programs, remembers the Cameron Station era well.

“The old building contributed to a strong bond of camaraderie with offices located on one floor and two big hallways running the length of the building,” she said. “There was no way to do business without constantly walking those hallways, so there was a lot of informal networking that took place as well.”

In 1973, DFSC progressed from a wholesale fuel-focused procurement activity to become the DOD’s single point for bulk petroleum. Under Phase I, DFSC added management of the acquisition, storage, distribution and sale of fuel with responsibility ending at the Service installation boundary. In 1991, Phase II began which expanded DLA’s ownership of bulk petroleum products to include most bulk storage installations. The two-phased process would include capitalized aviation fuel and later capitalize all ground fuel. 

In 1990, the DFSC mission expanded to include the supply and management of natural gas as well as the basic petroleum and coal products. In 1998, the Secretary of Defense increased the Center’s responsibility to include electricity and other energy-related services. 

To better reflect the expanding mission, the Center’s name was changed to Defense Energy Support Center. With the name change came a new mission – to build an energy program aimed at moving the DOD out of the management of energy infrastructure and into the management of energy products.

When Cameron Station closed in 1995, employees moved to the new McNamara Headquarters Complex at Fort Belvoir, Virginia; and in 2010, the Agency adopted its current name as Defense Logistics Agency Energy in support of the DLA “We are DLA” initiative.

Today, DLA Energy supplies more than petroleum to Warfighters and customers around the globe. From helium, electricity, cryogenics and exotic space fuels to disaster response fuel support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and modernization of fuel infrastructure, DLA Energy continues to be an integral part of the defense of our country.

DLA Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Jimmy Canlas congratulated the DLA Energy workforce for its historical achievements and service to the Warfighter.

“As the 40th Commander of DLA Energy, it is a privilege and honor to be a part of this great organization. Professionals from more than 30 locations around the world selflessly support our Warfighters and other important customers,” he said. “Thank you for your contributions in helping us achieve the accomplishments we have made over the last 75 years to our mission and for all you do in support of our great nation.”

Canlas told employees that while COVID precautions may prevent us from sharing a slice of cake together, it won’t stop us from celebrating our long legacy of fueling the fight.