NEWS | Jan. 21, 2021

Profiles in Professionalism: Logistics Specialist 1st Class Francis Mulwa

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (Sel) Scott Wichmann

Profiles in Professionalism: LS1 Francis Mulwa banner graphic. (U.S. Navy graphic by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez)
SLIDESHOW | 1 images | Profiles in Professionalism: LS1 Francis Mulwa Profiles in Professionalism: LS1 Francis Mulwa banner graphic. (U.S. Navy graphic by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez)

While growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, Francis Mulwa heard a phrase that changed his life.

During a high school civics lesson, Mulwa’s teacher quoted a portion of President John F. Kennedy’s January, 1961, inauguration speech, imploring his countrymen to “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Mulwa said the words had an immediate and profound effect on him. 

“This quote struck a chord with me,” said Mulwa. “When I became a U.S. citizen, I believed that I must endeavor to be a true citizen, not just by word but by deed. I thought the best way to do so was to join the military and affirm my allegiance to the nation.”

Now serving as a logistics specialist 1st class on orders as a budget analyst at Al Udeid Air Base, Doha, Qatar, the 50 year-old Navy Reservist serves a critical role keeping the U.S. Forces Afghanistan mission running smoothly.

“My primary job as a budget analyst and resource manager is to fund requirements,” said Mulwa. “It is a critical position, because if we do not fund a requirement — for example, aviation parts — this could stall a mission. If an aircraft is on the ground due to a part, that part needs to be requisitioned immediately, if we do not fund this requirement, the mission is delayed or cancelled. So it is very imperative that we fund requirements as needed.”

Mulwa said his role calls for him to be at the top of his game each day, because the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

“My job requires a good grasp of data analysis to be able to make good projections and excellent forecasts,” he said. “We’re allocated funds based on our spending plan forecasts, and if we underestimate our budgets, it can very easily affect our mission readiness and execution.”

Mulwa said while growing up, his sense of civic responsibility for his native Kenya led him to look toward the educational opportunities available in the U.S. in service to his long-term goal of one day returning to Nairobi as a public servant.

“I felt an American university education would prepare me for a career in public service,” he said.

After arriving stateside, Mulwa earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Missouri and earned a master’s degree in public affairs from University of Missouri-Columbia.

In 2007, he was forced to make a career decision after violence erupted in Kenya following a disputed election. A return home became uncertain and Mulwa began a new plan to create a future in the U.S.

His new plan wasn’t without challenges. One of seven children, Mulwa said he initially found life in the U.S. a lonely and isolating experience, yet one that ultimately taught him self-reliance.

"It was stressful adjusting to the way of life in America,” said Mulwa. “I was so accustomed to a group setting where I could reach out to a neighbor if I had a problem. Where I come from, society functions more in a group dynamic, and when I came here I did not have a lot of friends or family. It was hard to reach out to someone for assistance since I did not know them. It took a while to realize that I had to do things more by myself.”

Mulwa said in hindsight, the challenges he faced eventually brought him a deeper appreciation for his newfound home.

“The process of gaining citizenship was a long process but it instilled in me the importance of being a law abiding citizen” said Mulwa. “Overall the process took about seven years from residence permit to citizenship, but it was worthwhile.”

Mulwa praised the growth opportunities offered by his Reserve career, highlighting the chances to meet and work with people from all over the world.

“The Navy Reserve has allowed me to travel to places I never thought I would visit, even if I had the resources to do so,” said Mulwa. “Being in the Navy and meeting people from various backgrounds has opened many possibilities for me, and has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.”

Echoing JFK’s call to service, Mulwa said while he has already achieved many of his individual career goals, he wants to use his remaining time to focus on helping his shipmates succeed.

“I want to make chief, at my earliest possible date,” he said. “I still want to complete two more deployments and then become more of a mentor to young Sailors and hopefully guide them to a successful Navy career.”