DISA’s senior enlisted advisor to close 30-year ‘unpredictable’ career

By Renee Hatcher
Office of Strategic Communication and Public Affairs
June 28, 2022 

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Official photo for Chief Master Sgt. David P. Klink.

 

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. David P. Klink will pass on the Defense Information Systems Agency senior enlisted advisor responsibilities to Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Dan Krause during a transfer of authority ceremony June 30 at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland; Klink’s retirement ceremony will be held that afternoon.

“It’s been an unpredictable career, but I wouldn’t change a thing,” Klink said.

The Wisconsin native joined the Air Force in 1992 and has done everything from making dentures to driving armed semis in Iraq.

At the beginning of his career, Klink remembered a recruiter told him that the cutest girls and the shortest hours were in the medical group.

“That resonated with my 18-year-old self, so I became a dental lab tech,” said Klink, who made dentures, crowns and retainers for the first 12 years of his military career. “It’s custom work, almost like a jeweler; I liked it because it was hands-on and a bit artistic.”

Klink then spent a few years in Germany working in various leadership positions throughout the medical group before returning stateside in 1999 to Andrews Air Force Base. It was there that he was selected to be a first sergeant, and over the coming years would have various assignments in operations, maintenance and support groups.

“I took a meandering path,” said Klink, who started with aircraft mechanics and then went into logistics.

Klink said his favorite deployment was with the 586th Expeditionary Logistic Readiness Squadron at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. He was the first sergeant for two combat teams of about 600 “Combat Truckers.” His truck companies would pick up containers in Kuwait and drive them to wherever they were needed. Then, they would take battle-damaged vehicles or empty containers back. Before Klink joined that unit, it had lost six people.

“It was very dangerous work, but we had a 10-month clean run, with no major injuries during my time,” he said. “Keeping that supply system moving was the most militarily significant effort that I led. I’m really proud of that; it was good work.”

Klink said another challenging and rewarding assignment was his last job as a first sergeant. That was with the 31st Security Forces Squadron at Aviano Air Base in Italy. The squadron had 530 members, 300 were under 21, and the drinking age was 14.

“The first sergeant takes care of all the people problems so the unit can concentrate on the mission,” Klink said. “I was very busy during this assignment, and I learned a lot,” he remembered with a grin.

From this point on, Klink was on the command chief track. He earned the rank of chief master sergeant in May 2011 and has since served in various leadership roles at locations around the world including Al Udeid Air Base Qatar, Lajes Field, Azores, and the Pentagon.

Klink reported to DISA in September 2019. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic response took up a lot of his time, but he was also able to make several other significant contributions to the agency.

His first task from then DISA director, retired Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, was to take an assessment of the agency. Klink traveled to several of DISA’s field locations, and met with the workforce including all the Senior Executive Service members and flag officers at the agency.

He found the top three issues were parking at headquarters, a culture that felt too much focus was on headquarters and not equally distributed among the agency’s other sites, and lack of support for the military.

“COVID and telework helped solve the parking problem, but I’m taking credit for it,” he joked.

Klink said he made improvements with the HQ-centric issue but that’s not entirely fixed.

“We still have to be better at taking care of the field units and the people embedded with the other sites,” he said.

Klink took the lead on bringing the first service elements to DISA, and repositioned his office to get ahead of problems and be better locked into operations.

“I feel very confident that I’m leaving the agency better than I found it,” he said. “I’m most happy that I have solidified the utility of the senior enlisted advisor’s office, and that it’s ready to pivot to a more operational presence. This will be beneficial for the agency going forward.”

Although Klink’s official retirement date is Oct. 1, Krause will take over immediately. Krause comes to DISA from the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and was the prior senior enlisted advisor for Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command.

The DISA senior enlisted advisor serves as the principal military advisor to the director and staff, providing a senior enlisted perspective in a global organization and combat support agency of more than 19,000 joint military, civilian and contractor personnel around the world. This position directly supports the president, secretary of defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, combatant commanders, Department of Defense and service components agencies, along with multiple mission partners and coalitions across the full spectrum of operations in joint strategic and operational support of more than 200,000 warfighters in 150 countries.

Klink plans to remain in the local area after retirement and may transition into a civilian career next year but said he is in no hurry. With some free time ahead, the Air Force guy who once made dental crowns, and led combat truckers through harm’s way in Iraq will now explore his sailor skills.

“I have a 34-foot Tiara that I am still getting to know and learning how to operate,” he said. “I have truly loved serving my country in the Air Force and at DISA, and now I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”



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