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DLA News Archive

News | May 7, 2024

Expeditionary personnel support DEFENDER ’24 

By Jake Joy

Defense Logistics Agency personnel are honing their overseas contingency support prowess during a roughly two-week deployment to Germersheim, Germany, that began in early May as part of the U.S. Army’s DEFENDER 2024 exercise.

Temporary field sites at the U.S. Army Depot there include a DLA Distribution Expeditionary, or DDXX, team and a DLA Disposition Services Expeditionary Site Set, both capable of allowing logistics specialists to provide agency services to deployed warfighters.

Man stands at a counter with what looks to be tools
Heavy equipment mechanic Erik Nielsen preps hand tools in a DLA Distribution Expeditionary maintenance shed at the U.S. Army Depot in Germersheim, Germany, May 6, 2024. Nielsen, who has been with the DDXX team since 2017, is part of a combined DEFENDER ’24 exercise deployment group that includes DLA Distribution personnel from sites in Tracy, California, and New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. Photo by Jake Joy
Photo By: Jake Joy
VIRIN: 240506-D-GV919-649
“A robust expeditionary capability ensures that DLA can rapidly deploy and establish logistical support that exceeds current capabilities in operational locations where U.S. forces and DLA presence is limited,” said DLA Europe & Africa Deputy Director Don Bruce.

DEFENDER lasts from late March through May and is the largest Army-led exercise in Europe, involving more than 17,000 U.S. and 23,000 multinational servicemembers from more than 20 allied and partner nations.

Bruce said the exercise will help the agency’s expeditionary elements validate procedures and identify shortfalls to ensure they can effectively execute a real-world operation plan scenario.

For DLA Distribution, the primary goal for DEFENDER participation is to establish an alternate Theater Consolidation and Shipping Point to support a theater sustainment request from the U.S. European Command, said DDXX Commander Army Lt. Col. Kimberly Ellenburg.

“The team will gain valuable experience processing consolidated air cargo bound for our European customer base, as well as learning the distribution and transportation processes unique to the EUCOM theater,” Ellenburg said.

A person in camo uniform directs another person in a camo uniform driving a tan vehicle
Navy Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Alora Uribe guides Navy Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Davika Michael during the construction of a DLA Disposition Services Expeditionary Site Set at the U.S. Army Depot in Germersheim, Germany, May 6, 2024. Both sailors are part of the DLA Joint Reserve Force and attached to Disposition Support Units that support the agency’s expeditionary reverse logistics missions. Photo by Jake Joy
Photo By: Jake Joy
VIRIN: 240506-D-GV919-601
Army Maj. Marc Guerrisi is the DDXX officer-in-charge on the ground in Germany. He’s held the role for the past year and a half and said the combined team of expeditionary personnel from DLA Distribution sites in Tracy, California, and New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, know what they need to do and work together “unbelievably well.”  

“We’ll consider this exercise a success if we’ve gotten everything to the right customer and the right place on time,” Guerrisi said.

For DLA Disposition Services, DEFENDER provides another opportunity for its deployable personnel to practice constructing and operating the modular, scalable Expeditionary Site Set. The property disposal “site-in-a-box” provides reverse logistics specialists with machinery and office spaces needed to receive used and surplus property, coordinate hazardous waste disposal, and demilitarize sensitive items in potentially hostile environments.

A large piece of machinery hangs in a cloudy ski from wires
A skid steer comes in for landing at the DLA Disposition Services expeditionary exercise site in Germersheim, Germany, May 6, 2024. The machine is one of many that belong to an agency Expeditionary Site Set permanently stored in nearby Kaiserslautern. The ESS provides reverse logistics specialists with all the machinery and portable office spaces needed to receive used and surplus property, coordinate hazardous waste disposal and demilitarize sensitive items in potentially hostile environments. Photo by Jake Joy
Photo By: Jake Joy
VIRIN: 240506-D-GV919-577
Maggie Mieras is a program manager with the DLA Disposition Services Resource Management Directorate. The retired Army National Guard logistics officer with real-world deployment experience is leading the major subordinate command’s on-site efforts as exercise area manager and said this type of training is critical for preparing reverse logisticians for downrange work.

“We want to increase their ability levels and continue their development,” Mieras said. “We want to exercise their material handling equipment familiarity and help them continue learning about the inner workings of an expeditionary site that goes beyond the level of classroom training.”

The success of DLA’s expeditionary efforts is predicated on the involvement of various headquarters support elements. Planning for participation in events like DEFENDER is driven by DLA Logistics Operations’ Plans and Exercises Office. The expeditionary elements of DLA Distribution and DLA Disposition Services are augmented by servicemembers from the DLA Joint Reserve Force. And downrange communications would be impossible without support from DLA Information Operations’ contingency IT operations team, which provides deployers with links to the DLA Enterprise Network via tactical cellular backhaul, Low-Earth-Orbit commercial satellite and military satellite.   

Black man adjusts IT equipment outdoors
Derick Butler, network technician for Defense Logistics Agency Information Operations, assembles a man portable satellite terminal in Germersheim, Germany, May 6, 2024, to establish expeditionary field communications capabilities for agency personnel supporting the U.S. Army’s DEFENDER ’24 exercise. Photo by Jake Joy
Photo By: Jake Joy
VIRIN: 240506-D-GV919-552
“Events like DEFENDER ‘24 are great opportunities for [DLA Information Operations] to exercise our ability to provide contingency communications in a variety of environments,” said Dempsey Hackett, the director of DLA Information Operations’ Enterprise Infrastructure Service.

The exercise also helps Hackett’s team demonstrate the ability to deploy personnel and a heavy communications package overseas to support EUCOM, he added.

DEFENDER is nested within the even bigger Steadfast Defender 2024, conducted across the continent by NATO. The Defense Department estimates that more than 50 naval assets, 1,100 combat vehicles and 90,000 troops are participating overall, allowing more than 30 NATO allies to test new defense plans and the organization’s ability to deploy collective forces quickly.

According to a statement by Supreme Allied Commander Europe Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, “Steadfast Defender 2024 will be a clear demonstration of our unity, strength and determination to protect each other, our values and the rules-based international order.”