USA — Face of Defense: Logistics Analyst Excels in Leadership Program

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — When Bet­ty Hoapili was select­ed to attend the Depart­ment of Defense’s Exec­u­tive Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment Pro­gram, she got the chance to walk in a warfighter’s shoes.

German Leopard II tank at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany
Bet­ty Hoapili trains in a Ger­man Leop­ard II tank at the Grafen­woehr Train­ing Area in Ger­many as part of the Defense Department’s Exec­u­tive Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment Pro­gram.
Depart­ment of Defense pho­to by Dave Michael
Click to enlarge

The 23-year civ­il ser­vice vet­er­an, a logis­tics pro­gram analy­sis offi­cer on the Defense Logis­tics Agency’s Air Force Cus­tomer Sup­port Team in the Oper­a­tions and Sus­tain­ment Divi­sion of DLA Logis­tics Oper­a­tions, was look­ing to com­ple­ment her career path when she respond­ed to the program’s call for nom­i­na­tions through DLA’s Exec­u­tive Devel­op­ment Program. 

One of the pro­gram require­ments was to com­plete a staff study. Hoapili’s study focused on the Defense Department’s acqui­si­tion com­mu­ni­ty and its abil­i­ty to han­dle the impend­ing wave of retire­ments pro­ject­ed in the next five years. 

“I looked at whether or not the [defense] acqui­si­tion career field is head­ed for … a ‘brain drain’ and devel­oped pos­si­ble cours­es of action,” she said.

Hoapili said she pre­pared her­self for the var­i­ous types of train­ing and tem­po­rary duty assign­ments, which took place one to two weeks each month for 10 months — a total of 95 days. She also need­ed to keep up with her reg­u­lar work­load, which she said helped her learn about jug­gling priorities. 

At the pro­gram ori­en­ta­tion, Hoapili said, her instruc­tors told par­tic­i­pants they were lucky to have been selected. 

“One of the things they said to us was, ‘You 61 peo­ple have won the lot­tery,’ [because] there were 600 appli­cants, she recalled. The par­tic­i­pants were split into six teams, includ­ing one mil­i­tary mem­ber per team, Hoapili said. 

The first “deploy­ment” was to core train­ing at the South­bridge Con­fer­ence Cen­ter in South­bridge, Mass., where Hoapili said team mem­bers were chal­lenged phys­i­cal­ly, men­tal­ly and emotionally. 

Team mem­bers had to com­plete a fit­ness test – sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups – to ensure they could safe­ly par­tic­i­pate in the program’s demand­ing activities. 

“[Ear­ly] the next morn­ing … those who had not passed any aspect of the phys­i­cal test­ing had to report to the gym area and were going to focus on addi­tion­al train­ing,” she said. Although Hoapili and her team­mates had passed the phys­i­cal test, she said she went to the gym any­way to help oth­er pro­gram mem­bers pre­pare for the re-test. It was a proud moment when those mem­bers passed the test too, Hoapili said. 

Army Rangers' Malvesti Obstacle Course in Fort Benning, Ga
Bet­ty Hoapili crawls through the mud at the Army Rangers’ Malvesti Obsta­cle Course in Fort Ben­ning, Ga., dur­ing part of the Defense Department’s Exec­u­tive Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment Pro­gram.
Depart­ment of Defense pho­to by Dave Michael
Click to enlarge

At anoth­er deploy­ment, she vol­un­teered for a swim­ming chal­lenge at the Basic Under­wa­ter Demolition/SEAL School at the Naval Spe­cial War­fare Cen­ter in Coro­n­a­do, Calif. The chal­lenge involved swim­ming in full mil­i­tary gear out to a Navy SEAL posi­tioned in the ocean. 

“It was very scary because of the sig­nif­i­cant under­tow and the crash­ing waves. … There was one point where I thought, ‘I won­der if I’m going to drown.’ [But] when I made it back to the beach and the rest of my team­mates were cheer­ing me, I knew I’d chal­lenged myself to do my best. That’s why I [vol­un­teered],” Hoapili said. 

One of the program’s key tenets involves show­ing par­tic­i­pants they can do more than they’d thought, she said. 

“That’s the start­ing point for any good leader, … know­ing your capa­bil­i­ties and push­ing your­self … to see what you can do when faced with a tough chal­lenge, … to go one step beyond what you thought you could do,” she said. 

“How to adapt to chang­ing cir­cum­stances is part of the skill set that this pro­gram was teach­ing me,” Hoapili said. 

After the swim­ming chal­lenge, pro­gram mem­bers were required to drag an inflat­able raft up and down the beach and then com­plete an obsta­cle course. 

Despite being dri­ven to phys­i­cal exhaus­tion on that Cal­i­for­nia beach, Hoapili said, her biggest chal­lenge was yet to come at the U.S. Army Ranger School, at Fort Ben­ning, Ga. Stand­ing on top of a 75-foot tow­er and step­ping off to rap­pel down was more of a men­tal chal­lenge for Hoapili, one she was­n’t sure she could do. 

“That first step took a lot of faith on my part, [but I had] con­fi­dence in my equip­ment and con­fi­dence in the instruc­tors that were there … assur­ing me they had my back,” she said. 

Dur­ing times when she was less con­fi­dent in her abil­i­ties, Hoapili said, she repeat­ed a mantra to herself. 

“Lead­ers are tough; lead­ers are strong; lead­ers can do these things,” she said. 

Still, Hoapili cred­its her accom­plish­ments to her team’s nev­er-end­ing support. 

“I was blessed with an amaz­ing team of peo­ple. We called our­selves ‘Team High Five.’ … Those 10 peo­ple became a fam­i­ly. … We were there for each oth­er. It goes back to work­ing on behalf of warfight­ers; [they] were my warfight­ers, and I did­n’t want let them down, and we refused to leave any­one behind,” Hoapili said. 

Each year dur­ing grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies, one class mem­ber is award­ed spe­cial recog­ni­tion. This year, Hoapili was award­ed that dis­tinc­tion and pre­sent­ed the Rose­mary E. Howard Lead­er­ship Award. She was unaware she would be receiv­ing the peer-nom­i­nat­ed award. 

“To be nom­i­nat­ed by your peers is an extreme hon­or,” Hoapili said. “When I read the award’s inscrip­tion: ‘Based on Courage, Deter­mi­na­tion, Lead­er­ship and Pro­fes­sion­al­ism,’ I was very hum­bled,” she said. 

Hoapili said she took two lessons away from her expe­ri­ence in the pro­gram. The first was a rein­force­ment of a les­son learned from her father. 

“My dad is a retired Air Force chief mas­ter sergeant; he always taught me the back­bone of our armed forces is our enlist­ed corps,” she said. “That was rein­forced to me … because at every deploy­ment, the indi­vid­u­als who were teach­ing me, … train­ing me, … equip­ping me were all [non­com­mis­sioned officers].” 

The sec­ond take-away is the pow­er of team­work, she said. 

“Not only did my team­mates have my back, but trained, amaz­ing warfight­ers had my back as well. [I val­ue] the whole con­cept of courage and com­pas­sion and com­pe­tence in terms of strong lead­er­ship and what’s expect­ed of us as future civil­ian lead­ers,” she said. 

Gary Gonthi­er, a per­for­mance-based logis­tics pro­gram man­ag­er in DLA Aviation’s Strate­gic Cus­tomer Engage­ment Branch was also on Hoapili’s team. 

“Bet­ty was a wel­come mem­ber of the team. … [She] is social­ly gre­gar­i­ous, which man­i­fests itself in the pre­cious atten­tion she paid to both orga­ni­za­tion­al and per­son­al details,” he said. 

The com­bi­na­tion of Hoapili’s inter­per­son­al style, which includ­ed offer­ing praise and oth­er affir­ma­tions to par­tic­i­pants, set against a back­drop of struc­ture, sched­ules and order made her a com­pas­sion­ate leader, Gonthi­er said. 

“She left no doubt when team mem­bers per­formed well, yet also made clear those instances when things did­n’t go so well. Bet­ty always placed the con­cern of oth­ers above her own self-inter­est,” he said. 

This year marked the first occa­sion that pro­gram par­tic­i­pants trav­eled to Kuwait. Though they spent just 72 hours there, both Hoapili and Gonthi­er agreed that the pro­gram instilled them with a greater appre­ci­a­tion for mil­i­tary ser­vice members. 

Gonthi­er said the pro­gram pro­vides civil­ian per­son­nel with a hands-on approach to learn­ing what warfight­ers do on a dai­ly basis. 

“The … mem­bers from each of the ser­vices are tru­ly ded­i­cat­ed to what they do and [are] whole­heart­ed­ly sup­port­ed by the fam­i­ly that fol­lows … them,” he said. “They are high­ly trained and ready to do what­ev­er it takes to defend this nation, includ­ing giv­ing their lives. We should nev­er for­get that.” 

Hoapili agreed and said it’s an expe­ri­ence civil­ians rarely, if ever, get. 

“It’s invalu­able in enhanc­ing my under­stand­ing of what our warfight­ers go through, the sac­ri­fices they make … on our behalf, and how impor­tant it is for us to do our jobs extreme­ly well so they can do what we’re ask­ing them to do,” she said. 

Recent­ly, Hoapili found out she was select­ed for anoth­er train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty – the Indus­tri­al Col­lege of the Armed Forces. She cred­its DLA for giv­ing her the chance to dis­play her lead­er­ship qual­i­ties in the ELDP. At DLA, devel­op­ing employ­ees’ skills and abil­i­ties is a high pri­or­i­ty, so high it falls into agency Direc­tor Navy Vice Adm. Alan Thompson’s list of top initiatives. 

“I’m anx­ious now to give back to DLA for hav­ing giv­en me this oppor­tu­ni­ty,” Hoapili said. 

She added that she’s a “huge pro­po­nent” of the ELDP pro­gram and not­ed that as the Rose­mary E. Howard Award win­ner, she gets to go to ori­en­ta­tion for next year’s pro­gram and speak to incom­ing participants. 

“In so many ways, I do wish I was doing it again — not so much the crawl­ing through the mud, … but it’s a once-in-a-life­time expe­ri­ence,” she said. “I look at the pic­tures and think, ‘How did I do that?’ But you do it one day at a time and with a whole lot of help from your friends.” 

Nom­i­na­tions for the DoD Exec­u­tive Leader Devel­op­ment Pro­gram are solicit­ed annu­al­ly around Sep­tem­ber through the DLA Exec­u­tive Devel­op­ment Pro­gram. Infor­ma­tion is avail­able on the EDP web­page at

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →