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News | March 15, 2021

RDT White sharpens skills while assisting ARNORTH’s support to federal vaccination efforts

By Beth Reece

A Defense Logistics Agency Rapid Deployment Team is ready to support the upcoming hurricane season and other emergencies or contingencies after a month of assisting U.S. Army North in its initial deployment of service members to state-run vaccination centers throughout the nation.

RDT White, one of three 13-member teams ready to quickly deploy to coordinate demands for DLA-managed commodities like face masks and meals, worked with ARNORTH officials throughout February to understand the mission scope and how DLA might contribute.

“Getting a clear understanding of their concept of support was the No. 1 thing we had to do to evaluate what sort of DLA equities might be involved,” said Stan Olsen, RDT White deputy commander.

Team members participated in daily teleconferences to match DLA capabilities to ARNORTH needs, though Olsen said support was primarily informational because existing infrastructure and interagency agreements covered military requirements. The civilian nature of the mission reduced needs for things like personal protective equipment and medical supplies because logistics support was provided by FEMA upon service members’ arrival at vaccination centers, he added.

“Though service members were required to have an initial three days of PPE, the services were able to provide that through their regular supply systems and depots, which DLA already supports,” Olsen continued.

RDT members assisted ARNORTH officials from their DLA locations, but Olsen said the in-place activation gave them a chance to work together in a virtual environment and discover one another’s strengths and weaknesses. 

“We’re a new team, so this allowed us to conduct mission analysis and work out the kinks of communicating virtually with tools like MS Teams,” he said. “We also learned that if we do go forward to support, our folks are going to need to be 100% mobile, so they’ll need Wi-Fi or My-Fi capability.”

RDT White Commander Navy Capt. Danny King arrived at the agency just six months ago and said the mission helped him build a connection with ARNORTH and U.S. Northern Command officials for future support. It also broadened his knowledge of the various types of support DLA offers to military and federal agencies. Watching the news unfold as snow and ice blanketed the southern United States, King expected ARNORTH to request items like water or fuel to support vaccination centers.

“The DLA framework that’s already in place was able to meet and sustain those requirements,” he said. “I was impressed with the agency’s ability to quickly respond and provide support with its already existing supply infrastructure.”

This is the second time an RDT has supported pandemic response. RDT Blue assisted ARNORTH in April and May as it met requirements for medical and logistics units that mobilized to support health facilities and test sites.