COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime will complete a changeover this month in its Chief of Staff position as U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Tooman transitions to his next command challenge. After a year at the Central Ohio logistics center, Tooman took time last week to reflect on the experiences he’ll take with him and what made his latest assignment “a blast.”
What were your thoughts when you first heard about your DLA assignment?
I didn’t have a lot of background with DLA – in particular with how the Major Subordinate Commands were built. And when I got the assignment, it said “DLA Land and Maritime, Columbus” so I had to google to see if it was Columbus, Ohio, or Columbus, Georgia, or Columbus, Mississippi…just where exactly we were going. Having grown up in Toledo this was my first opportunity to come back and it’s been great living in Central Ohio.
Did you achieve most of your objectives?
I did. My objectives were really about learning the agency and figuring out where the agency fits in with the military services. Being an Air Force officer, I was very interested in how DLA services the Air Force and how that particular piece works to keep the warfighting piece rolling. Being able to learn that was important. But then also figuring out how to take that knowledge back to the Air Force in my new job and how that’s going to translate into having a better understanding of the supply chain process.
When I came here, I had the understanding that we bought parts for the Army and the Navy. We’re Land and Maritime right? That’s what we do. But I’ve learned that it’s certainly much more than that. It’s really the supply chains. How that whole piece interacts in terms of overall support and how much commonality there is between supply chain support across the different military services.
How has your DLA perspective changed since taking this assignment?
I’m an aircraft maintenance guy so prior to coming to DLA I knew that DLA bought stuff that then went into the supply system and that’s really where my knowledge – at least coming into it – sort of ended. I’m used to taking the end-item or end-product that DLA has worked through the supply chain and putting it on an airplane to make something happen. It's been illuminating for me to see how the entire supply chain lifecycle works starting with where the requisition comes from, how the engineering support takes place, how those contracts are sought out, how the manufacturers produce them, and then how the engineering teams make sure those parts are made to the specifications that are going to do what we need them to, to how that then gets translated and transferred to service possession to get to where I need it on the line.
What was your most identifying achievement?
A lot of my time here was spent during COVID and trying to get to the point where we could re-enter the workplace safely. So, I would say if there’s one thing that probably marks my time here it’s been figuring out and navigating COVID and what that meant in terms of being able to get folks back into the building and back to some sense of normalcy.
Did you learn anything new to take to your next assignment?
One of the things I learned and will take away is the business side of things and how the business operates: how we’re funded, how the working capital fund works, how we forecast what we need, how we work with the services to identify what those requirements are going to be and then go out and let contracts to meet those requirements and see how close we really were based upon what our operational research told us we needed [versus] what we really sold. I loved that. To me, that was just a blast. It was just fun understanding that entire supply chain lifecycle.
Tell us about your next challenge?
I’ll be the 3rd Maintenance Group Commander at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, so I’m back to being the end-user of DLA products. We’ve got a couple squadrons of F-22s and a squadron of E-3s. We also work with the Alaska Guard that owns the C-17s and provide a bunch of manpower and support to those operations as well. Having a greater understanding of the supply chain process will help me to better identify requirements back through our system – from the wing through the depot and supply chain managers that we have in the Air Force – to then push that into DLA so that hopefully we get a better forecast for what we really need and shorten that supply chain to the max extent we can.
My family is very much looking forward to Alaska but we’re certainly going to miss Columbus and the ability to be here and be close to family and just do all the things that come with being in Central Ohio. We’ll certainly miss Buckeye football in the fall. There are a million things that Columbus offers between shopping and restaurants and the zoo and just the people – we’re going to miss that. And on a personal note, I’m going to miss you guys. I’ve really enjoyed my time in Land and Maritime – this has been a fantastic team to work with.