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News | Sept. 25, 2017

Eye on the ground: A look inside Distribution’s Expeditionary Team’s hurricane support

By Brianne M. Bender DLA Distribution Public Affairs

Before the 2017 hurricane season, DLA Distribution had never had all three expeditionary teams deployed simultaneously in support of a natural disaster. They worked together on deployments in Afghanistan but never for a FEMA response. The three teams that makes up the DLA Distribution Expeditionary Team are located at Susquehanna, Pennsylvania; Red River, Texas; and San Joaquin, California.

DLA Distribution Expeditionary commander U.S. Army Maj. Jesse B. Holmes worked out of the intermediate staging base located at Joint Base San Antonio Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. He described the daily tasks at the ISB to include multiple daily teleconferences with both FEMA and the DLA Distribution headquarters team to ensure synchronization of effort and information. 

“We operated twenty-four hours a day, so the teams were split into two twelve hour shifts.  Approximately twenty employees per shift,” said Holmes. “The yard was broken down into three essential functions: receiving, shipping and yard management.”

Additionally, Holmes explained that efficient parking plans to maximize space in the yard were crucial to successfully handling the given amount of commodities processed during these missions.  Tractor trailers were showing up all hours of the day and night and would back up for miles in every direction affecting the local community.  Quickly receiving those truck was key to preventing back logs.

The tractor trailers received at the ISB included supplies like bottled water, commercial meals, plastic sheeting, blankets, generators, cots, tarps, hygiene kits and commonly used shelter items.

“Managing all three teams was a challenge.  The key to our success has been having good leaders that had been through training within the past few months.  It’s been a total team effort and the DLOC was awesome in managing the situation and information flow,” said Holmes.

The Expeditionary team had initially planned a joint training exercise for the three teams in the spring of 2018. At this time, they still plan on conducting the combined exercises along with FEMA and USTRANSCOM.  These exercises are essential to maintaining proficiency and being successful during real world events.  

“Much of the team’s success during this crisis, I would attribute to having conducted realistic training within the past four months,” explained Holmes.