CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait –
Serving alongside warfighters in forward areas can be challenging enough, but changes in military operations and safeguarding personnel during a pandemic added extra hurdles during 2020 for Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services personnel in the Central region.
Army Lt. Col. Jason Logan, Central’s director, said his team knew the warfighters they support were sympathetic to the challenges DLA Disposition Services personnel faced, but those employees also knew how much the units they support count on them to make the mission happen.
“Because of that mutual support and work to complete the mission, I think we have ultimately come through this year stronger than when we entered it,” Logan said.
A 2020 mission analysis helped apply Network Optimization principles to keeping operations going. Logan said the uniqueness of the disposition mission in U.S. Central Command’s operating area requires similar leadership oversight and engagement as the other DLA Disposition Services regions despite the overall quantity of locations and material processed being less than those other regions. He noted that Central was the first region outside the Unites States to accomplish this task, which standardized manning with the rest of the organization, maximized efficiencies and still ensured needs were met.
“Network Optimization added capability in each location to better serve the warfighter as we move forward,” Logan said.
While organizational changes helped enhance efficiency, personnel had to adjust for measures to deal with the pandemic. Precautions mandated by Defense Department and DLA guidance were often supplemented by host installation and host nation requirements to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“Our personnel dealt with the same risks and limitations as personnel across the organization with the added complexity and stress of being separated from their families,” Logan said. “The commitment to the mission and the team was critical to sustaining support to the warfighter.”
Scrap removal, receiving and the demilitarization of controlled items are among the duties that cannot be done by telework, but Logan said people who had to be on-site were “faithful at social distancing and sanitation measures. They also adeptly championed Exceptions to Policy to ensure contractor access onto facilities to meet demilitarization and scrap removal requirements.”
Growing piles of scrap metal at Camp Arifjan
, Kuwait, began shrinking in September thanks to a new contract between DLA and a local company. The deal allows for up to 15 million pounds of scrap material to be removed from the DLA Disposition Services site at Arifjan. A Kuwait Area Development plan created in 2018-2019 also helped DLA facilities there evolve as the staff continually adapts to support CENTCOM’s needs. The concept includes a disposal yard that more closely resembles permanent disposal sites from both an operational and administrative perspective. There is also a new modular administrative building that provides ample work space for all personnel, a customer service area, a conference room, and a kitchen.
“The work offers a significant upgrade to the current facilities that have been degraded over time by environmental factors,” Logan said.
Facilities in Qatar are also improving construction and relocating the DLA Disposition Services yard to a larger and better location. Despite pandemic-caused delays, necessary construction should be completed within fiscal 2021 to allow transition to the interim site by early fiscal 2022. The new interim yard will provide a bridge to a permanent 20 acre facility that will be built in 2025 and provide improved receiving, warehousing, demilitarization and scrap removal operations.
Environmental protection was enhanced by CENTCOM’s Bahrain facility for hazardous waste disposal. Once in use, this facility will be able to process approximately 80% of the hazardous waste contract line numbers, significantly decreasing the need for complex, time-consuming agreements to transport the material to another country with an appropriate facility.
Staff members in the Central region continued to reach out in 2020 seeking strong partnerships
with their customers and supporting agencies. Facilities in the region provided yard space and excess vehicles in support of fire and rescue training
. Safety personnel at Naval Support Activity Bahrain and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Qatar conducted annual safety inspections for DLA Disposition Services sites due to COVID-19 travel restrictions on DLA safety personnel.