Petraeus Praises Retiring Defense Logistics Agency Director
By Kathleen T. Rhem
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT BELVOIR, Va., Nov. 14, 2008 The outgoing director of the Defense Logistics Agency "simply refused to take no for an answer when it came to meeting the needs of our troops,"
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, said here yesterday.
Army Lt. Gen. Robert Dail, right, retiring Defense Logistics Agency director, and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, U.S. Central Command commander, stand at attention during the reading of Dail's retirement orders during a relinquishment of responsibilities and retirement ceremony at Fort Belvoir, Va., Nov. 13, 2008. DoD photo by Jonathan Stack
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Speaking at Army Lt. Gen. Robert Dail's retirement ceremony, Petraeus said Dail's two years as DLA director and 33 total years of service in the Army will have a lasting impact on U.S. warfighters.
Navy Vice Adm. Alan Thompson will assume responsibilities as DLA director in a ceremony slated for Nov. 19.
“Bob Dail helped to instill a never-take-no-for-an-answer attitude and a warrior ethos in those supporting our combat forces,” Petraeus said.
Before assuming command of Centcom on Oct. 31, Petraeus commanded U.S. and coalition operations in Iraq. He spoke of his firsthand experiences being on the receiving end of support provided by DLA under Dail’s leadership.
“He repeatedly leveraged his experience and expertise to link the national industrial base and to harness the global marketplace to ensure the best possible support of our troopers around the world,” Petraeus said.
Such outstanding logistics support was particularly critical during the surge of forces in Iraq in early 2007, Petraeus added.
“All of us involved in that critical endeavor could see and feel the impact of his determined leadership, energy and creativity,” Petraeus said. “In fact, Bob and DLA were not just critical to sustaining our own forces and some of those of our allies, they also played a huge role in the efforts to provide equipment and supplies to the rapidly growing and increasingly important Iraqi security forces.”
Petraeus recounted how he and Dail served together as battalion commanders in the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division and again as brigade commanders in the 82nd Airborne Division. He peppered his speech with personal anecdotes about their careers.
“The truth is, if someone had told any of our buddies back in the early 1990s that Bob and I would be leading DLA and Central Command 15 or 20 years later, that individual would have been told to go sit under a tree until that outlandish thought passed,” he said.
Petraeus said he heartily agrees with Dail’s belief that the officers whose careers the retiring officer influenced are his true legacy to the military.
“Half of the Army logistics corps generals have served under him,” Petraeus said. “And the list of colonels, lieutenant colonels, senior civilians and business executives he has mentored and guided is equally long. Bob has shared his passion and his expertise, and these will live on long after he has taken off the uniform.”
In his retirement speech, the outgoing DLA director urged military logisticians to always keep the troops foremost in their minds.
Specifically, Dail urged DLA employees to ensure America’s warfighters receive “the kind of support that men and women who wear the uniform of a free republic should expect and deserve when they volunteer to serve the country.”
The retired general said he often pictured a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine in his vehicle with him as he entered through the gates of the McNamara Headquarters Complex every day, because that’s who he was representing and he felt like they influenced his decisions.
Dail also said that he believes that officers whose careers he influenced are his most important legacy to the military corps of logisticians.
“I really feel that my legacy is not in some initiative or some program, but my legacy really is in my subordinates,” he said. “I have … felt that that was my … long-term mission that I was supposed to provide to the Department of Defense.”
Dail also delivered a personal message to the countless servicemembers and civilians he’s led and mentored throughout his career: “It just fills my heart to no end to know that you’re in the service and that you are in charge in the next few years.”
(Kathleen T. Rhem works in the Defense Logistics Agency Public Affairs Office.)