By Thomas Perry
DCMA Public Affairs
Army Lt. Gen. David Bassett relieved Navy Vice Adm. David Lewis as Defense Contract Management Agency director during a digitally-broadcasted change-of-charge ceremony here at DCMA’s headquarters building June 4.
“I’m humbled by this opportunity to lead this amazing team here at the Defense Contract Management Agency,” said Bassett. “I really appreciated your remarks today. As a former program executive officer, they resonate with me and the challenges I face, that this team has faced and that you faced together. You’ve done an absolutely amazing job leading this team in this agency over the last three years, and I can only hope to continue your legacy of excellence in this agency. You’ve given me the privilege of falling in on an incredible team, a team of trusted professionals committed to delivering capability and value to our warfighters, and that mission will continue under my leadership.”
In his new role, Bassett leads a Department of Defense agency consisting of more than 12,000 civilians and military personnel who manage more than 300,000 contracts, performed at 15,000 global locations, with a total value in excess of $7 trillion.
In his most-recent Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical command role, he was responsible for the development, acquisition, fielding and support of the Army’s tactical network, a critical modernization priority since January 2018. Bassett's biography is available here.
During his comments to the global DCMA workforce across multiple digital platforms, Bassett addressed several prominent national issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests sparked by George Floyd’s death.
“Today’s change of charge ceremony comes at a particularly difficult time for our nation. We’re now four months into the COVID pandemic, which has taken the lives of over 100,000 of our fellow citizens. It has also caused major disruptions to the defense industrial base and its supply chain. It’s a global issue. It’s not over yet, and it’s affected all of us.
“And in the midst of all of that on the 25th of May, the nation witnessed the murder of George Floyd in the streets in Minneapolis,” continued Bassett. “I know all of this is affecting the members and teammates in this agency. We wish it were not possible for racism to occur in America, a country founded on the sacred ideal that all men and women are created equal and have unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But it does occur, and it has occurred. And we have to face it together. My family and I, like all of you across this great team of trusted professionals across the world, were outraged and angered by his death and the death of others.”
DCMA’s new commanding general committed to partnering with agency team members to unwaveringly serve America’s diverse warfighters – the agency’s ultimate customers.
“So today, I stand before you committed to the mission of this great organization, and to its soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, who are (our) ultimate customers in DCMA,” he said. “They’re comprised of all races, colors and creeds and they embody the ideals of the Constitution they sworn an oath, an oath to uphold. We swore an oath together to the Constitution and the American people. I'm committed to working with all of you, this great team of trusted professionals at DCMA, to support those warfighters.”
In September 2013, Bassett was appointed Ground Combat Systems program executive officer, where he managed the portfolio of the Army’s combat vehicle fleet including major modernization efforts to Abrams, Bradley, Stryker and self-propelled howitzer programs, while also initiating the Army’s Armored-Multi Purpose Vehicle program.
Bassett was commissioned into the Signal Corps in 1988 through ROTC concurrent with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia. As a junior officer, he served in Germany in tactical positions with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and 123rd Signal Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division.
As Bassett arrives, his predecessor disembarks for the final time. In conjunction with the change-of charge ceremony, Lewis retired after 40-plus years of honorable service.
“I want to thank you specifically for what you’ve done for DCMA,” said Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, in a message played during the ceremony congratulating Lewis for his service. “Although we ripped you from the jaws of retirement for this job, your agency, its workforce and, ultimately, all of the DoD are better off because of it. The wealth of experience you brought into this position was a guiding hand for a critical agency. You took on an organization with personnel and technology challenges, and three years later, it's running well in what is perhaps the most demanding environment ever witnessed. That's incredible. And (it’s) a final testament to your skills and leadership.”
Lewis, who had spent the majority of his time as a naval officer working in product delivery, product maintenance, and platform modernization, thanked agency team members, after more than three-years of mission success.
“The time has come for me to leave DCMA,” said Lewis. “This has been the best, most interesting, most challenging and most fulfilling tour of my Navy career. Thank you for your support, your ideas, your questions, your opinions, but, most importantly, your unrelenting, unblinking focus on fulfilling our mission. I am proud of your work and salute your accomplishments!”
Lewis said that the agency’s success is often measured in straightforward terms despite the importance and impact of mission accomplishment.
“For us, the iron standard of product delivery is simple and clear: was a functional product delivered in time and on budget?” said Lewis. “We relish these raw, unblinking, stark and absolute measurements. We relish that challenge. It defines us. It drives us. When it is good, it is very good. When it is bad, we all share the blame and the shame. And then we drive ahead again, without hesitation, to do better, to improve, to succeed, to learn and to overcome.”
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