Carter Presides Over DLA Change of Responsibility
By Sara Moore
Defense Logistics Agency
FORT BELVOIR, Va., Nov. 18, 2011 Navy Vice Adm. Mark D. Harnitchek assumed responsibility of the Defense Logistics Agency from outgoing director Navy Vice Adm. Alan Thompson today in a ceremony held at the McNamara Headquarters Complex here.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, left, presents Navy Vice Adm. Alan Thompson with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal upon his retirement at the McNamara Headquarters Complex on Fort Belvoir, Va., Nov. 18, 2011. Thompson passed responsibility of DLA to Navy Vice Adm. Mark D. Harnitchek. Photo by Teodora Mocanu
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Thompson, who took the helm of DLA in November 2008, is retiring from military service.
Harnitchek comes to DLA from U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he was deputy commander. Upon assuming responsibility for DLA, Harnitchek said he is excited for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and looks forward to being part of the agency.
“As we gather here today, men and women of DLA are executing operations all around the globe, and DLA has earned a tremendous reputation for getting the job done,” he said. “I can now count myself among the very fortunate to serve with you: professionals who don’t just talk about world-class support, but folks who deliver it every day.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter presided at the ceremony and endorsed Harnitchek as the right leader for DLA, citing the admiral’s experience supporting troops throughout his career.
“Admiral Harnitchek knows something about how to support our troops and how crucial that support is to those on the front lines,” Carter said. “He’s not only served as deputy commander of Transcom and as vice director of logistics on the Joint Staff, but has also served on two submarines, three surface ships and the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. In all these posts, he served with distinction. We expect his tenure at DLA to be no different.”
Carter noted that Harnitchek is coming on board at a crucial time for DLA and the Defense Department overall. DOD, he said, is on the cusp on two changing currents: the need to adjust the department to meet the new challenges of the future after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end, and the nation’s need to put its fiscal house in order.
The budget needs to be managed carefully, Carter said, but at the same time the department must let go of old and familiar ways of operating and embrace future challenges.
“DLA will be at the forefront of both of these transitions -- the strategic pivot we are about to undertake and the budget measures we must put in place,” the deputy secretary said.
Harnitchek said he recognizes the great responsibility he faces in leading DLA through these new challenges. He also saluted Thompson’s achievements as DLA director and pledged to pursue the same excellence during his tenure.
“DLA is one of our finest groups of enthusiastic, innovative and dedicated go-getters who will always deliver,” Harnitchek said. “So as we navigate through the challenges and opportunities ahead, my challenge to you is simple: Get it done.”
Harnitchek praised Thompson as, “the genuine article and complete package: citizen, gentleman and warrior who exemplifies our core values of honor, courage and commitment.” He also cited the many examples of DLA’s successes over the past three years, including support to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, humanitarian relief efforts and maintaining world-class support to troops preparing to deploy.
Carter also praised Thompson’s accomplishments during his time at DLA. The Iraq drawdown and the influx of thousands of troops into Afghanistan placed extraordinary demands on the defense logistics system, he noted, but the surge was so successful that many throughout the department now refer to it as the “logistics miracle.”
The change of responsibility ceremony also served as Thompson’s retirement ceremony. Upon leaving DLA and finishing his military career, Thompson expressed gratitude to his many colleagues, leaders and employees throughout the years. He called serving as director of DLA “a capstone experience.”