Agency instructor preps servicemembers for logistics success

By Jake Joy, DLA Disposition Services Public AffairsMarch 21, 2024

DLA Disposition Services Military Service Liaison Robert Ostrander teaches military logisticians about the agency during an Army Sustainment University course at Virginia’s Fort Gregg-Adams in March, 2024.
DLA Disposition Services Military Service Liaison Robert Ostrander teaches military logisticians about the agency during an Army Sustainment University course at Virginia’s Fort Gregg-Adams in March, 2024. (Photo Credit: DLA Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

BATTLE CREEK, Mich.  –Robert Ostrander fills a unique role within the Defense Logistics Agency, where his duties include regularly standing at the front of classrooms, schooling servicemembers on DLA’s wide-ranging capabilities and expertise. He said plenty of students initially claim familiarity with the agency, until he starts laying out the actual details.

“When you really break down the major subordinate commands and explain the parts of the organization and its capabilities,” he said, “they realize they didn’t really understand the depth and breadth of what DLA can do.”

Understandable, given the sheer scope of its supply chains and services. Which is why education and familiarization are so critical to helping DLA provide warfighter support when and where it’s needed. Some of that crucial introductory education takes place within the Army Sustainment University at Fort Gregg-Adams in Virginia.

Ostrander officially serves as DLA Disposition Services liaison to the U.S. Army. The retired Air Force logistics readiness officer is also a longtime educator, having previously served as the Joint Logistics Course director for Army Sustainment University. Nowadays, he briefs roughly eight classes a month at the same school, providing property disposition-specific and DLA general familiarization material to servicemembers ranging from corporals to two-star general/flag officers.

“Most of the students Robert teaches are up-and-coming officers, warrants, and those already at the higher ranks,” said Vickie Rodgers, chief of DLA Disposition Services’ Warfighter Support Branch. “When presenting at the strategic level, he’s able to instill within them an overall picture of how DLA fits as a solution provider and a resource to depend on within their toolbox.”

His classes include those of the Air Force Advanced Logistics Readiness Officer Course, which prepares its logisticians to lead, plan, and advocate for joint logistics at the operational and strategic level, according to Course Director Lt. Col. Anthonelli White. Ostrander helps educate its program graduates, who regularly move on to positions on the Joint Staff, combatant commands, and as part of DLA’s own headquarters.

“Our partnership with DLA is critical. … DLA outpaces all other organizations in terms of the number of hours invested per course offering,” White said. “Rob’s briefing lays the foundation for our students to understand DLA’s organization, roles, and responsibilities before they deep dive into various topics while visiting the [DLA] headquarters.”

Rodgers pointed out that Ostrander’s contributions aren’t limited to the strategic level. He works with all levels of students and instruction can include basic exposure as to what DLA buys, how equipment is stored or how it reaches them, and how the end of life of all that property is supported.

“He works with students to see the overall value of DLA and how all the parts work together to form a support system for the warfighter,” Rodgers said.

Ostrander plans his class contributions alongside the school’s various course directors to determine what degree of detail the DLA information will cover and when the instruction should happen. For instance, in the Joint Logistics Course, he’ll highlight the importance of using DLA’s regional directors to navigate the peculiarities of a particular area of operations. Some classes are entirely online, some are hybrid, and some, like the Marine Corps’ ground ordnance courses, happen completely in person. Regardless, Ostrander can link students with subject matter experts in all parts of the agency to answer their questions.

“I’ve come to learn that many Marines throughout the ranks do not understand the full capacity of DLA and what they do,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Estrella, who directs the service’s ground ordnance courses at the school. “By having Mr. Ostrander come out to each of my classes … our Marines walk away with great resources and knowledge from this class and take what they learn here and apply it back in the fleet.”

Once DLA determined that Fort Gregg-Adams held one of the keys to educating military officers, warrants, and senior enlisted on all things logistics, Ostrander said it offered to provide Army Sustainment University with a dedicated instructor and the Army was “very receptive.” For him, providing in-person instruction helps him maintain his longtime connection to servicemembers.

“It’s fulfilling, because I’m right there with the warfighter,” Ostrander said. “It’s nice to be in a classroom where you see lightbulbs going off. I’m still able to help and impart something valuable to them.”

Another course director, Army Chief Warrant Officer Hinchen Holger, said the partnership between the school’s Warrant Officer Advanced Course and DLA helps ensure warrant officers can lead and innovate in a rapidly evolving battlefield environment.

“This partnership with DLA gives these Property Book Officers additional knowledge that allows them to better support commanders and ensure good stewardship of Army property,” Holger said.

Ostrander said the DLA presentations and educational materials used at Army Sustainment University are available for the use of customer-facing personnel positioned throughout the agency.