Fort Belvoir, VA –
The Defense Logistics Agency Army National Account Manager team
is more than a group of middle men connecting soldiers to America’s combat logistics support agency. The team monitors material availability, Army pre-positioned stock and readiness of Army weapons systems.
Often described as the glue between DLA and the Army, the NAM team works with Army Materiel Command’s life-cycle management commands: U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command and U.S. Army Forces Command.
Beyond the six-member DLA Headquarters team at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the Army NAM team has representatives with FORSCOM at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Army Sustainment Command at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois; and AMC at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
Army Col. Mondrey McLaurin, the Army NAM team’s recently-departed military deputy director, said his team is the service’s center of gravity and axle to its gears.
Since the Army NAM team monitors more than a dozen ground vehicles like Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Strykers and Paladin howitzers, the axle analogy is fitting. DLA is helping solve problems with tires and wheel assemblies on Humvees, for example.
“Multiple unit reports indicated cracking and some instances of blowouts involving the tires,” McLaurin said, adding that sudden blowouts can cause accidents and rollovers.
DLA Land and Maritime
is monitoring 12 parts in support of the program, and material is being expedited and shipped to keep up with demand for repairs.
“We kept the communication flowing here in DLA Headquarters to DLA Land and Maritime, which is working with Goodyear and Michelin to try to resolve the issue,” McLaurin said.
The Army NAM team involves DLA Headquarters directorates and major subordinate commands to bridge the gap between customers and DLA personnel, added Army Lt. Col. Delarius Tarlton, who replaced McLaurin as the Army NAM team’s military deputy and liaison to the Army’s deputy chief of staff for logistics.
“The customer comes to us with a problem, we identify the appropriate place to handle the problem, and we ensure they’re put in contact with each other,” he said. “DLA is a very large organization, so rather than have a customer call every department within DLA until they find the right place, the NAM team saves them a whole lot of time.”
Tarlton said a National Guard unit recently requested standard operating procedures on turning in excess property to DLA Disposition Services
“They wanted to know what they were doing wrong and wondered if there was a new SOP,” he said. They also wanted a recent copy of the DLA Customer Assistance Handbook, and Tarlton quickly provided it.
“Then I reached out to DLA Disposition Services and told them what the customer was requesting. They sent me a link with a step-by-step process of how to turn in vehicles
, the appropriate things that need to be in the vehicles and what needs to come out of the vehicles,” he added.
DLA Disposition Services even gave pictures to illustrate the process.
“I sent that to the National Guard unit; they were very thankful for it. I haven’t heard anything back, so I’m willing to bet that resolved their issue,” he said.
Logistics Management Specialist Michael Boone, the Army NAM team’s civilian deputy, said the agency is prioritizing 104 readiness drivers for the service by resolving material availability issues.
“We’re in the DLA director’s office two to three times a week for some meeting or engagement. Every other Wednesday, we brief readiness as it impacts the Army’s top 13 air and ground systems and any DLA readiness drivers that may be impacted,” he said. “We’re briefing trend data, material availability and on-target inventory.”
The primary tool for tracking readiness drivers is DLA’s Service Readiness Dashboard, which provides near real-time views of key weapons systems.
“Some of the drivers belong to DLA Land and Maritime, some belong to DLA Aviation and a few belong to DLA Troop Support,” Boone said, adding that the DLA director requested a consolidated enterprise view of Army systems to see trends and track the agency’s performance.
The NAM team also meets regularly with AMC, which recently identified 26 parts as no longer being purchased by the service.
“Yet they’re still holding systems down, so we actively investigated those and provided a response back to them,” Boone said. “Those are the types of actions that we handle at the monthly readiness review with AMC.
“We also hold partnership action council meetings at the action-officer level so we can resolve issues and arrive at topics that may need senior-leader guidance and updates,” he continued. “That’s what’s presented at Army-DLA Day.”
Earning the service’s confidence is key, and Boone said his team establishes trust through continuous, honest contact with teammates.
“We’re all in it together and we all have the same goal – to improve readiness to the Army. We’re on the phone and email with the Army G4 [logistics] and AMC almost daily,” he said. “In most cases, our customers are looking for answers immediately. Rarely do I get a call and someone says, ‘Hey, by this time next week can you get this for me?’ Most of the time it’s in the morning and they’re looking for something in the afternoon. ”Teamwork is critical, Tarlton added.
“The team courtesy copies each other on emails, so someone is always available to assist,” he said, adding that members work together to anticipate questions and find answers before they’re asked. “That way, they look good and we look good.”