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News | Aug. 24, 2021

Communication across DLA ensures mission success as COVID-19 surge test site support hits the one-year mark

By John Dwyer III DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

On August 5, 2020, the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support delivered on its first request to support COVID-19 “surge site” support. A little more than a year and over 13 million lifesaving items later, the mission is as important as ever.

In partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, DLA Troop Support has provided more than $2.75 million in personal protective equipment including masks, gloves, gowns, face shields and N95 masks to 92 COVID-19 test sites across 25 states and territories.

As a hub for incoming mission requests, DLA Troop Support’s Operations and Plans directorate, J3/5, has been the epicenter of the organization’s synchronized support to HHS. At the helm of this mission, J3/5’s Deputy Director of Future Operations Navy Lt. Cdr. Ed Windas continues to coordinate the needs of HHS with three of DLA Troop Support’s supply chains and partners at DLA Distribution to enable continued success.

“Requests come to me … I repackage [them] to ensure units of issue match and we have funding and the quantity on hand. I then turn it over to the supply chains to create the requisitions and work with [DLA] Distribution for shipment,” Windas said.

Some of the biggest contributions to the acquisition support have come from the Construction and Equipment supply chain, where Lead Commodity Support Liaison Adam Tutolo and the C&E team have worked to deliver 8,553,400 pair of gloves and 13,200 KN95 masks to HHS-supported sites.

“We’ve been working together as a team for a year now, and it’s pretty seamless at this point,” Tutolo said.

Tutolo said that he and his counterparts in the Medical and Clothing and Textiles supply chains, who have also coordinated on this effort, are able to accomplish the administrative processes to allow the material to ship so quickly thanks to partnership and communication.

“Once we cultivated relationships [with HHS and DLA Distribution] … it all really started to come together,” Tutolo said. “Now we’re able to turn stuff really quickly. We can get sales orders created in less than an hour and get them over to [DLA Distribution] so they can sometimes get them out the same day.”

Thomas Henry and Jeremy Jumper, DLA Distribution Customer Support Research Team members, have been assigned to the surge testing site support mission for more than a year, and said that the regular, well-organized communications between organizations and leaders, have enabled the ongoing mission success.

“It’s about avoiding duplication of work, streamlining the process and keeping people from getting bogged down,” Henry said.

To that end, Henry makes sure his communications are targeted and concise. Coordination from Windas and Tutolo to process the funding and shipping location information, as well as follow-up tracking within the warehouse ensures expedited movement to the HHS-supported sites.

“We try not to go longer than 24 hours to get material out,” Henry said. “We get them out usually the same day or the next day depending on the amount [of material] requested and the [customer’s] requested delivery date.”

Another key, Tutolo said, was DLA leaders’ decision to invest in high demand items for storage at DLA Distribution, where materiel release and shipping is closely coordinated and tracked.

Having that materiel on hand to deliver to surge test sites has helped create the smooth process over the past year, and ensures the integrity of the mission the orders keep coming in, Windas said.

“It started a year ago, and now, we still get rush orders late in the week and over weekends, but we have a good battle rhythm for how we maintain support,” Tutolo said. “And we’ll keep going for as long as HHS needs us.”

See the HHS website for a list of Community-Based Testing Sites for COVID-19. Not all sites are supported by DLA materiel.

See DLA’s website to read about other ways the agency is assisting the warfighter and partners in the fight against COVID-19.