By Kathleen T. RhemNovember 14, 2008
FORT BELVOIR, Va.(AFPS, Nov. 13, 2008) -- The outgoing director of the Defense Logistics Agency urged military logisticians to always keep the troops foremost in their minds.
In a ceremony attended by several current and retired general and flag officers, Army Lt. Gen. Robert Dail retired Nov. 13, after a 33-year career that included the past two years spent as DLA director.
Navy Vice Adm. Alan Thompson will become DLA director in a ceremony slated for Nov. 19.
In his retirement speech, Dail urged Agency 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 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 stressed 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 delivered a personal message to the countless service members 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."
Also during the ceremony, Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, spoke of Dail's lasting impact on U.S. warfighters.
"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 USCENTCOM on Oct. 31, Petraeus commanded U.S. and coalition operations in Iraq. He spoke of his firsthand experiences on the receiving end of support provided by DLA under Dail's leadership.
"Bob simply refused to take no for an answer when it came to meeting the needs of our warfighters, and 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, he said.
"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 when they both were 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 heartily agreed 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."