Thoughts on Being a Three Star Flag Officer… Retired Vice Adm. Edward Straw, SC, USN

Newsletter: What do you attribute your success to?

Vice Adm. Edward Straw, SC, USN

Vice Adm. Edward Straw, SC, USN

Straw: Two primary factors … the leadership and “never say die” education that I received at Annapolis and from many great leaders with whom I served; and the principle of not being afraid to hire people smarter than myself. I had some of the best teams of military and civilian leaders ever assembled in the history of the Supply Corps.

Newsletter: What was your most challenging assignment?

Straw: There were two … Supply Officer, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), on which I served from 1979 to 1981; and Director, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) from 1992 to 1996.

Newsletter: What are the hardest things you have ever had to do as a SC Officer?

Straw: Training then-Lieutenants Griffith and Pimpo. But seriously, providing satisfactory logistics support as Supply Officer of the Eisenhower during the “hollow forces era” (1979-81) while deployed in the Arabian Gulf for 300 days during the Iranian hostage crisis. Also, I found it challenging to transform the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) in the early to mid-90s.

March/April 1996 - Vice President Al Gore salutes the Defense Logistics Agency’s Defense Personnel Support Center at the 1995 Innovations in American Government Award dinner at the State Department.  Left to right:  William G. Milliken, Chair, The National Committee on Innovations in American Government and former Governor of Michigan; Vice Adm. Edward Straw, SC, USN, Director, Defense Logistics Agency; Robert Molino, Executive Director, Procurement, Defense Logistics Agency; Vice President Gore; Army Brigadier General Carl Freeman, Commander, Defense Personnel Center; George Allen, Deputy Director, Defense Personnel Support Center; John P. White, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense; Franklin A. Thomas, President of the Ford Foundation.

March/April 1996 – Vice President Al Gore salutes the Defense Logistics Agency’s Defense Personnel Support Center at the 1995 Innovations in American Government Award dinner at the State Department. Left to right: William G. Milliken, Chair, The National Committee on Innovations in American Government and former Governor of Michigan; Vice Adm. Edward Straw, SC, USN, Director, Defense Logistics Agency; Robert Molino, Executive Director, Procurement, Defense Logistics Agency; Vice President Gore; Army Brigadier General Carl Freeman, Commander, Defense Personnel Center; George Allen, Deputy Director, Defense Personnel Support Center; John P. White, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense; Franklin A. Thomas, President of the Ford Foundation.

Newsletter: What in your career are you most proud of?

Straw: Developing disciples of the Grinstead, Giordano, Walker philosophies of supply chain management and leadership. Leading the development and implementation of RADM Giordano’s concept for the “stock funding of reparables.”   This ingenious funding idea was the driver of the radical turn-around in aviation and shipboard readiness in the late ‘80s that continues through today. Convincing Navy leadership to dramatically improve funding for munitions following unsatisfactory inventory levels experienced during Desert Storm. Driving DLA’s integration of commercial best practices to enhance military logistics support.

Newsletter: How do you think what you’ve learned over your career helped you after you retired from the Supply Corps?

July/August 1996 – Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Technology) Paul G. Kaminski attaches the Joint Meritorious Unit Award Streamer onto the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Flag during recent ceremonies at DLA Headquarters.  Dr. Kaminski spoke to several hundred DLA employees after receiving an update from the Management Team.  Vice Adm. Ed Straw, DLA Director, looks on as his aide, Lt. Troy Saunders, holds the flag.

July/August 1996 – Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Technology) Paul G. Kaminski attaches the Joint Meritorious Unit Award Streamer onto the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Flag during recent ceremonies at DLA Headquarters. Dr. Kaminski spoke to several hundred DLA employees after receiving an update from the Management Team. Vice Adm. Ed Straw, DLA Director, looks on as his aide, Lt. Troy Saunders, holds the flag.

Straw: My seamless transition to success in the private sector is a direct result of the leadership and world class operational experience I gained during my 35-year Supply Corps career. I have never encountered a problem in the private sector that I had not already learned to solve in the Navy. A Supply Corps career is the ultimate training ground for business success in the private sector.

The principles I learned in the Supply Corps were also a vital factor in my continued efforts to positively impact veterans’ support issues and advise numerous military officers in their transitions to the private sector.

Newsletter: What one piece of advice would you give to today’s Supply Corps officer?

Straw: Read Elbert Hubbard’s “Message to Garcia” for a perspective on personal accountability for mission success.

Newsletter: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Straw: Yes … to our junior Supply Corps officers … You young Supply Corps officers represent the future of our great corps, and I ask you to never forget our mission of service to America and her fighting men and women. With resource constraints and global challenges sure to continue, you must help the warfighters and peacekeepers walk that razor thin line between being lean and being unprepared. You are their quiet yet powerful force-multiplying partner whose most important objective is to ensure that America is never caught unprepared.