Army's Borland retires after 32 years in government

Conflict, irony brought Borland to the Army

A 32-year government career that started after a wildcat strike at a Philadelphia meatpacking plant ended when Army deputy chief information officer Dave Borland retired Jan. 3.

Borland, an avid golfer who is known for his good humor, now intends to do information technology consulting. "I can help clients figure out if they have products the Army can use," Borland said.

He first honed his IT skills as an Air Force supply sergeant in Missouri ordering parts for Minuteman II missiles, which helped him earn a bachelor's degree in business administration from Central Missouri State University.

A graveyard-shift foreman's job at a Rocky-esque meatpacking facility brought Borland east, to the City of Brotherly Love. But when he enforced a rule that women wear hairnets, the unionized women walked off the job, sparking a citywide alert.

"They were some of the toughest, meanest women I ever met," Borland remarked. That afternoon he quit.

He had previously taken a civil service exam and that night he received a procurement job offer at the Army's Communications-Electronics Command office in Philadelphia, asking him to start three days later.

When he arrived for his first day, Borland asked why CECOM hired him so quickly. Command officials said they had selected 10 guys but only nine had showed, creating an opening for Borland. "I got there by accident," he joked.

Borland spent years buying parts for Army battlefield computers and testing machine. He eventually climbed the ranks to the Army's Directorate of Information Systems for Command, Control, Communications and Computers as vice director later in 1996, and became Army deputy CIO in 1996.

He marveled how IT has progressed, helping transform the Army into a lighter, rapid-deployable force. In March, he watched at the Pentagon as soldiers, depicted as blue icons on large computer screens, moved from Baghdad International Airport to seize control of downtown Baghdad.

"It was actually surreal. I'm watching this icon, merely a depiction of flesh and steel — these kids," Borland said. "This is war in real time. And IT is a fundamental enabler."

"Dave's been doing for the past 20 years what we're trying to get government IT people to do now," said Bob Guerra, a partner in the consulting firm Guerra, Kiviat, Flyzik and Associates Inc.

"He brought that Philadelphia personality to D.C. He listens to people."

NEXT STORY: Eye on IT programs

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