Combined Arms Leadership Development Exercise at DLA Distribution

By Dr. Tanya Johnson DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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University students from Penn State, Lock Haven, and Bucknell Reserve Officers Training Corps programs, visited Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Jan. 29 to discuss how the organization delivers effective logistics solutions to customers around the globe.  The visit was part of the ROTC Combined Arms Leadership Development Exercise aimed to enhance cadets ‘professional experience and leadership skills.

Opening the visit, DLA Distribution commander Army Brig. Gen. Richard Dix offered advice to the ROTC cadets, many of whom he indicated would likely be in a similar leadership position as him in the future. Dix recommended that each of the cadets invest in themselves by creating a professional book, similar to a professional portfolio, which serves as a template for a resume or biography.  He said that each member should continue building their professional books as they progress up through the ranks. 

Dix discussed with the class how critical organizational, written and oral communication skills are particularly important to combat arms officers.  “This is what it is all about, developing the bench for the US Army!”  Dix shared with the cadets the need to form a five -year professional plan with at least three courses of action in reference to their professional future.  Dix reiterated the Army’s continuous need for officers that are well organized, have a plan and a strong skill set to create an ultimate team player.  He concluded with an offer to mentor any of the cadets that forward him their professional book.   As he wished them all well, he reminded them that should they ever serve in Europe, Africa, or the Middle East, majority of the sustainment items they order come through DLA. 

Jessica Roman, public affairs specialist for DLA Distribution provided the ROTC cadets an overview of DLA Distribution’s 24 distribution centers around the globe, discussing the capabilities of the organization as a whole.  She expanded upon those specialized services highlighted by Dix, emphasizing how distribution and logistics solutions, such as the expeditionary capability keep DLA Distribution relevant as the needs of the warfighter continuously evolve.

Providing a firsthand view of distribution operations, Susquehanna representatives provided a walking tour of the Eastern Distribution Center, the largest distribution center within the Department of Defense, and a key location for items stored and distributed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.  The cadets were able to observe the facility’s high-rise storage and retrieval system, air lines of communications pallet build area and the Consolidation and Containerization Point processing area, providing perspective on the operations required to maintain accountability and accessibility for items needed by the warfighter. 

Wrapping up the exercise, a Human Resources brief was provided by customer account specialist, Scott Stada and an Organizational Management brief from acting director, Polly Charbonneau.  Lastly, Faith Doyle, staff at the Bucknell ROTC Program, reviewed ethics as they apply to U.S. Army Officers. 

Keeping in mind that Army ROTC prepares students for military service as commissioned officers in the active Army, or part time in the Army Reserve or Army National Guard, the CALDEX serves as a professional experience which enhances each cadet’s leadership development and critical thinking skills while building on the themes of mission command and the Army profession.  The CALDEX is conducted in an environment designed to enhance their problem solving capabilities with contemporary analysis and examples.  The cadets’ visit to DLA Distribution aimed to prepare students in the supply chain management class by giving examples of distribution operations within the Department of Defense.