Williams says farewell in relinquishment of DLA command

By Beth Reece

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The Defense Logistics Agency director known for operationalizing the agency’s support to combatant commanders and driving development of the DLA Service Readiness Dashboard relinquished command to DLA Vice Director Mike Scott July 8 during a ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex.

Army Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams became the agency’s 19th director in June 2017. His tenure began with disaster relief response for hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and ended with the national response to COVID-19.

White man in suit and black man in Army dress uniform hold a framed certificate and medal in front of U.S. and DLA flags
Jordon Gillis, assistant secretary of defense for sustainment, presents the Defense Distinguished Service Medal to Defense Logistics Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams during a relinquishment of command ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex July 8, 2020.
White man in suit and black man in Army dress uniform hold a framed certificate and medal in front of U.S. and DLA flags
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Jordon Gillis, assistant secretary of defense for sustainment, presents the Defense Distinguished Service Medal to Defense Logistics Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams during a relinquishment of command ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex July 8, 2020.
Photo By: Andrea Johnson
VIRIN: 200708-D-D0441-001
Jordon Gillis, assistant secretary of defense for sustainment and event officiator, called Williams’ leadership “absolutely awesome.”

“I have had the chance to watch, admire and learn from Gen. Williams. And I can tell you without a doubt that DLA is stronger, more focused and more aligned with the department’s lines of efforts than ever before,” he said during the ceremony, which was broadcast live on Facebook.

With Williams at the helm, DLA oversaw programs with an annual revenue of over $42 billion, delivering almost every consumable item American forces needed for combat readiness, emergency preparedness and daily operations. He created an eight-year DLA Strategic Plan that reinforces the agency’s commitment to providing effective, efficient and innovative support, Gillis added. And the Agency Synchronization Operations Center Williams established maintains a 24/7 global watch of supplies that enables warfighters to provide agile military support and has helped align DLA’s assistance during the pandemic.

“The ASOC became DLA's nerve center when COVID-19 hit and provided unparalleled visibility and insight into a rapidly developing situation. And thanks to his insight and leadership, it was very needed,” Gillis said.

The DLA Service Readiness Dashboard, which Williams created to provide real-time metrics for key weapons systems, provides unprecedented visibility that has helped increase material availability for every service, Gillis continued.

Williams said his leadership was inspired by DLA employees’ motivation and willingness to meet the logistics needs of troops in harm’s way and at various locations around the globe. He called the agency’s role as America’s combat logistics support agency indispensable to the success of the department, the nation and over 40 whole-of-government partners.

“DLA is especially critical to our nation during times of national crisis such as what we have experienced with COVID-19 and response to hurricanes, forest fires and other natural disasters,” he said. “Nobody does it at the size, scope and scale that the DLA does, and I want to say thank you to all of our employees for stepping up to the plate to bat every single time.”

The agency provided almost $1.2 billion in disaster relief to consecutive hurricanes that ravaged the U.S., Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands in August 2017, supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Northern Command and others. And in COVID-19 support, DLA employees have so far executed over 14,000 contract actions and provided another $1.3 billion in personal protective equipment to the services, Department of Health and Human Services and FEMA.

DLA employees have also backed DOD’s No. 1 priority of boosting lethality and readiness by improving material support for over 2,300 weapons systems during his tenure, Williams said.

“Your dogged determination to take care of the warfighter, as well as the whole of nation and the American people, is what often won the day for DLA,” he added. “Your processing of over 10,000 orders per day and conducting distribution operations anywhere and everywhere that our troops required them also won the day.”

DLA’s civilian workers are as dedicated and patriotic as its military members, Williams continued.

“A very large percentage of the DLA workforce has served within our military, and having served in many of the same formations that they now support, they understand the urgency and the operationalization of the support that we provide,” he said.

Black man and woman stand in front of the U.S., DLA and 3-star general flags holding a red blanket with multicolored stars and stripes.
Defense Logistics Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams presents a Grateful Nation Blanket depicting service ribbons for each of the nation’s conflicts and 56 states to his wife, Myra, during his relinquishment of command ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex July 8, 2020.
Black man and woman stand in front of the U.S., DLA and 3-star general flags holding a red blanket with multicolored stars and stripes.
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Defense Logistics Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams presents a Grateful Nation Blanket depicting service ribbons for each of the nation’s conflicts and 56 states to his wife, Myra, during his relinquishment of command ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex July 8, 2020.
Photo By: Andrea Johnson
VIRIN: 200708-D-D0441-002
Williams thanked his wife, Myra, for supporting him during his 37-year career and supporting service members at their various duty stations by presenting her a Grateful Nation Blanket, which honors the men and women who’ve defended freedom throughout the nation’s history. The blanket’s chronologically placed stripes represent service ribbons awarded to veterans of military conflicts, while 56 stars represent the 50 states, District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.

“Myra has given me, our family and the families of our troops everywhere that we have been everything that she has. No one is more deserving of the Grateful Nation Blanket than she is,” he said. “I can say with zero equivocation that if it were not for Myra there would be no Darrell Williams, no Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams, director of the Defense Logistics Agency.”

Scott, who will serve as acting director until the agency’s next military leader is confirmed by Congress, said Williams can be justifiably proud of his accomplishments at DLA.

“You took us to new heights,” he said. “We are a better and stronger organization because of your vision and steadfast leadership.”

Williams also served as commander of DLA Land and Maritime from September 2010 to July 2012. He will retire later this summer.

View a video of the full ceremony on DLA's Facebook page.