At first glance, Defense Logistics Agency employees might notice the bright green camouflage of the battle dress uniform this particular Army major is wearing. But once they spot the telltale red maple leaf on the sleeve, it’s easy to identify Maj. Marie Ryan-Roberts as a Canadian officer.
Ryan-Roberts, who currently serves as logistics plans officer in DLA’s Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office, has more than 25 years in the Canadian armed forces and is the first Canadian officer to serve in DLA.
Ryan-Roberts’ first exchange assignment was with the 18th Airborne Corps Headquarters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as a logistics planner.
“That gave me some background, working with a U.S. unit and learning how they operate,” she said.
In 2011, she was working at the Canadian Joint Operations Command in Ottawa when the command began to explore the possibility of an exchange program with DLA.
“We were realigning some of our international lines of communication positions, and thought that DLA would be a good fit for a Canadian exchange officer,” she said. “So we looked at a position description and worked with the DLA staff to come up with what the position would look like — what the requirements might be.”
For all out-of-country positions, the logistics branch convenes a board and candidates are placed according to their preference, background and specific skill set, Ryan-Roberts said.
“We felt that our Canadian logistics officers would gain good experience working with DLA and could bring that knowledge back to Canada,” Ryan-Roberts said.
The duration of the exchange position is three years, and as Ryan-Roberts prepares to return to Canada, a new Canadian major will take her place in August.
“I’ve met briefly with Maj. Dominic Adams-Robenhymer,” Ryan-Roberts said. “He’ll be an excellent fit for JCASO, and I’m sure he’s going to enjoy the position just as much as I did.”
Ryan-Roberts said she’s been privileged to travel extensively during her military career, but she’s become particularly fond of the United States.
“As a logistician, I’ve worked with Americans, and I’ve always felt very much in common with how we do business on the world stage,” she said. “I have a lot of respect for the U.S. military as well as the U.S. in general, just as I do for Canada; we’re good partners — good allies.”
Ryan-Roberts developed such a fondness for the area she’s decided to return to Virginia after obtaining U.S. citizenship.
“I’m just in the initial stages, but that is my end goal — to obtain citizenship and be able to live and work in the United States,” she said. “It’s a natural progression; I want to look at future career opportunities, and I really love Virginia.”
In the meantime, Ryan-Roberts will transition back to the CJOC in Canada until she retires from the Canadian armed forces.
“I will be working within the J4 [logistics] branch for the foreseeable future, and I’ll be concurrently working through the immigration process — initially, for a visa and then a green card,” she said. “I’m very excited about the process.”
Reflecting on her time in JCASO, Ryan-Roberts said she will most miss the people she worked with.
“It’s been a very positive experience for me – I can’t say that enough. Working for DLA and JCASO, in particular has been challenging, but a lot of fun as well,” she said. “I learned an awful lot about operational contract support, working with our embedded planners at different geographic combatant commands.”
Ryan-Roberts said the exchange program will continue indefinitely.
“It’s been an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to work with JCASO and DLA,” she said. “I think Canada looks forward to the partnership going forward.”