U.S. forces in the Baltics and Poland for Saber Strike 2018 have easier access to critical supplies like food, fuel and repair parts with the deployment of Defense Logistics Agency personnel to Powidz, Poland.
Almost 60 employees and service members representing DLA major subordinate commands like DLA Distribution, DLA Energy and DLA Disposition Services began arriving in the region in May to set the stage for logistics support for the U.S. Army, Europe-led exercise held June 3-15. Now in its 8th year, Saber Strike involves about 18,000 personnel from 19 countries working to strengthen interoperability and trust.
The exercise marks the first time DLA has dedicated a DLA Support Team to exercise support, said Air Force Lt. Col. John Dingeman, DST deputy commander. This DST is made up of 11 members of the DLA Joint Reserve Force who are overseeing the support of items including food, fuel, construction supplies, repair parts and maps.
“We’re the command and control coordination cell back to DLA Europe & Africa for accountability of people, items and any emergencies that come down that we need to report back and request further guidance for,” Dingeman said.
The DST is working alongside Army logistics units such as the Mississippi Army National Guard’s 184th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, the Army’s lead in logistics support during the exercise. Air Force Maj. Raymond Lewis is serving as DLA’s liaison officer to the unit. Being embedded with the 184th ESC makes it easier for Army logisticians to get answers regarding DLA-managed supplies, he said.
“I find that they route the most complex questions through me but also the simplest ones that you probably wouldn’t get over the phone,” Lewis added.
DLA is also using Saber Strike to assess its expeditionary capabilities in the U.S. European Command area of operations by sending DLA Distribution’s deployable distribution capacity to serve as a forward distribution node and theater consolidation shipping point. Called DLA Distribution Powidz Poland, or DDPP, for the duration of Saber Strike, the capability allows DLA to place supplies closer to exercise participants located in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland than if the agency sourced them from DLA Distribution Germersheim in Germany. That means faster support, said Army Brig. Gen. Clint Walker, 184th ESC commander.
“What that has done is allowed the bypassing of a warehouse in Germany, allowing the items that we need to get here faster. And anytime you can get material to the battlefield faster, it enables our commanders to complete their mission.”
DLA personnel will remain on the ground after the exercise to facilitate property turn-ins to DLA Disposition Services and oversee the disposal of hazardous waste.