Defense Commissary Agency Gets Permanent Director

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 5, 2006 - Napoleon Bonaparte once opined that an army marches on its stomach, meaning that to be effective, a military relies on good and plentiful food.

In accordance with Napoleon's general theme of the importance of properly feeding ones forces and their families, the Defense Department appointed Patrick B. Nixon as the director of the Defense Commissary Agency on June 27.

"Pat's selection is a great tribute to his abilities and leadership qualities and also to his devoted efforts to sustain an effective commissary system for our people," said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

The Defense Commissary Agency, with headquarters at Fort Lee, Va., operates a worldwide chain of nearly 280 commissaries that provide groceries and household supplies to U.S. military personnel, retirees, and their families at the lowest price consistent with quality.

DeCA employs about 18,000 personnel, has annual sales of more than $5.0 billion, and has a total annual operating budget of about $1.1 billion, placing it in the top 10 largest supermarket chains in America, defense officials said.

For the past two years, DeCA has been undergoing a complex transformation to become a more "business-based, customer-focused organization," where performance and activity-based management practices have reduced operating costs, defense officials said.

Nixon has more than 40 years of retail experience involving every facet of grocery marketing. He has served with the military commissary community since 1983 and has held many senior positions within the Defense Commissary Agency since its activation in 1991. He has served as the agency's chief executive officer since 2001 and was appointed acting director in August 2004.

"As director, my goal for the agency is as it always has been -- to increase the value of the commissary benefit while at the same time being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars," Nixon said.

The appointment constitutes a departmental paradigm shift, with the conversion of the agency's directorship from a military flag officer to a career member of the Senior Executive Service, DoD officials said.

"Mr. Nixon's appointment epitomizes the ongoing commitment to integrate career executives into the top leadership ranks of the department," Chu said in a written statement. "Our senior civilian executives are part of the integrated leadership team responsible for executing the department's 21st century strategy for the defense of this nation. Mr. Nixon's quality and caliber of executive civilian leadership will contribute significantly toward achieving our vital DoD mission."

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