How can I help? A simple question, but one that speaks to character. It’s exactly the question that the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Industrial Hardware team proudly asked to support their partners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, they managed to maintain a two-year trend of improved warfighter support in the process and brought their enthusiastic attitudes to the other high-performing supply chains, Air Force Col. Adrian Crowley, Director of IH, said.
“The IH team has a strong reputation for helping the warfighter and each other,” Crowley said. “I’m extremely proud of the entire team for their volunteerism and continued hard work in maintaining [Department of] Defense weapon system readiness during this critical time.”
Volunteers from IH started to assist the Medical, Clothing and Textiles and Construction and Equipment supply chains around April of this year to help with the spike in demand in response to COVID-19, Crowley said.
“As soon as the surge requests for personal protective equipment and other supplies started to come in, there was a clear need to take action,” Crowley said. “We had other supply chain leaders looking to augment their mission saturated teams, and IH employees asking how and where they could help.”
With the focus of “Warfighter First,” the IH team made sure that the support wouldn’t affect the continued improvement in weapon system readiness IH has made over the past few years.
Despite nearly 60 employees assisting other supply chains’ pandemic response, the IH workforce has maintained a positive trend in hardware support.
According to DLA Troop Support supply and demand analyst Gregory Strugala, IH’s materiel availability increased 2% and backorders were reduced by 33% from September 2018 to March 2020. They’re also currently meeting the Agency goal of 90% on-time delivery.
IH employees Stephanie Nguyen and Ryan Cunningham described their reasons and experiences helping other supply chains.
Nguyen has been assigned as a tailored vendor logistics specialist in Medical for almost a month, and said volunteering was partly a desire to learn more, and partly wanting to help with COVID relief.
“It’s important to reach out and help as much as we can,” Nguyen said. “Having the knowledge and work ethic that IH provided me made the transition easier.”
Cunningham has been working with Construction and Equipment for nearly seven months and felt fortunate for the opportunity to help.
“I felt like I could make a difference,” Cunningham said. “At first it was humbling going from IH to having to learn again and have my work reviewed in C&E. But going forward, the new experience will allow me to help DLA better.”
An intangible benefit they bring is the IH spirit, IH Culture Improvement Team chairperson Chuck Zerambo said.
“By and large, IH team members are champions for continuous improvement and adapt well to change,” he said. “We’re encouraged to be proactive in spearheading and maintaining successful programs, and there’s a pride in doing things as a team to advance the DLA mission regardless of the task assigned.”
Medical Collective and Foreign Military Sales Division Chief Yvonne Poplawski was glad for the support.
“The IH volunteers are doing fantastic,” Poplawski said. “They are all excited and actively engaged in learning their new roles and they are certainly playing an important role in our current COVID-19 support to our warfighter and federal partners.”