Devotion to Duty
Directorate of Support (DS)
From Headquarters to the Field, What Do You Need?
The Directorate of Support is prepared to facilitate CIA operations wherever, whenever. Their role is to ensure that officers are safe, secure, healthy, and fully able to carry out CIA’s mission worldwide. They support the Agency’s workforce at Headquarters, and played a critical role in our response to September 11th. The DS procured equipment at home and delivered it wherever it was needed overseas.
The demands of the mission were constant; one of the logistics officers said she had to accept that her work would never really end. Another officer compared it to high-stress work in retail management during the holiday season—except this job carried considerable personal risk and was all about national security implications, not commissions or a corporate bottom line.
WE NEED CONNECTIVITY…
A communications specialist deployed with the first team into Afghanistan. The officer, and those who followed, worked almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They were the “connectors”—uniting the field with Headquarters to ensure the critical flow of information. The communications officers lived on top of their equipment and caught sleep whenever they could. The job had other challenges, as well—including power outages, the large time difference with Headquarters, and dealing with dirty fuel for generators.
WE NEED A WAREHOUSE…
Teams abroad needed a facility to store equipment, and the Directorate of Support was assigned to build one. DS officers were given one week—just after Thanksgiving—to procure and ship everything needed to build two warehouses. They acquired, packed, and palletized the equipment and loaded it onto a C-17 transport plane. Their gear included 50 by 75 foot structures, power generators, forklifts, and scissor lifts.
The route to Afghanistan was rarely direct. The team had to stop at airports and stay with their equipment on the plane. Sometimes they had to spend a night at an airfield and would play cards to pass the time. The setting was often the belly of their plane, atop a crate lit only by flashlight.
When they landed, the team had three days to build the first warehouse. For security reasons, they worked only during daylight. They got the job done on schedule and finished construction of a second warehouse, completing both jobs a week after the officers had arrived.
WE NEED POWER…
Few operations can get off the ground without electricity, which runs everything from the communications equipment to the coffee maker. To deal with the growing demand for power as more officers deployed to Afghanistan, a DS officer used ingenuity and creativity to locate an existing out-of-use generator in an abandoned building. The officer was thrilled to be able to get it up and running. After several tries, the old machine sputtered to life—an invaluable jolt to the mission.