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News | Dec. 26, 2023

Commentary: DLA provides global support in 2023

By Colin Williams DLA Historian

The Defense Logistics Agency is a customer-facing organization with a global presence. In most years, events force it to focus on one region. Not so in 2023, when actual and potential conflict involved it in six of the Defense Department’s seven geographic commands.

Landing pads and equipment beside a ship
Army mariners assigned to the 368th Seaport Operations Company and 331st Transportation Company construct a causeway adjacent to the MV Maj. Bernard F. Fisher off the coast of Bowen, Australia, July 29, 2023. The Defense Logistics Agency provided pre-planned food and fuel support during the exercise and was also on the ground to assess emerging needs in an area where DLA has a minimal footprint. Photo by Army Sgt. Ashunteia’ Smith
Photo By: Sgt. Ashunteia' Smith
VIRIN: 230728-A-XX639-1009
The year began with Ukraine fighting for survival. DLA had been supporting the land and naval forces sent to bolster U.S. European Command with its full array of commodities and services since the war began. It had given Ukraine only used material. This imbalance changed in July when the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command started buying $43.5 million in DLA Land and Maritime-procured repair parts for the country. At year’s end, DLA Distribution had delivered five of what it expects to be eight shipments.

EUCOM would have had a second major conflict to oversee if DOD hadn’t transferred Israel to U.S. Central Command two years ago. Hamas’s surprise attack on Oct. 7 drove the Middle East’s only non-Muslim country to full mobilization. DLA rushed $93.7 million in planned and unplanned assistance to this longstanding ally within two months of the attack. It also provided subsistence, fuel and medical supplies to the naval forces President Joe Biden deployed to protect U.S. interests. 

Leadership from DLA HQ and DLA Aviation went on site visit to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, July 17-19, to provide them a chance to see in-person the weapon systems DLA supports at Minot.
Aviation leadership tours Minot Air Force Base
Senior leadership from Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Customer Operations Directorate accompanied DLA Vice Director Brad Bunn on a site visit to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, July 17-19, 2023. The purpose of the visit was to provide senior DLA leadership a chance to see in-person the weapon systems DLA supports at Minot.
Photo By: Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa Bankston
VIRIN: 230718-F-JU986-1175
The Israel-Hamas war triggered unrest in northern Africa. U.S. Africa Command was already focused on this region due to political instability in Sudan and a military coup in Niger. Between these disruptions, DLA participated in Africa Lion 2023, an AFRICOM exercise spanning four countries and involving 8,000 people. The agency supplied U.S. personnel in the Sahel before, during and after the exercise. 

Sub-Saharan Africa was less troubling. In fact, one of its countries volunteered to lead an international response to the lawlessness and humanitarian crisis Haiti has been suffering since its sitting president was assassinated two and a half years ago. Kenya announced in July its willingness to intervene as long as U.S. Southern Command supported it logistically. While the operation has yet to begin, DLA will likely be involved.

DLA was more immediately involved father north. DLA Disposition Services helped end sensitive U.S. Northern Command missions by selling border wall material and writing a contract for the safe incineration of PFAS, carcinogenic substances. In another public event, NORTHCOM tracked the Chinese surveillance balloon floated across America in February. DLA provisioned the USS Carter Hall, the ship that recovered the balloon off the U.S. east coast.

Two men stand at the edge of a boat in water
Navy Rear Adm. Doug Noble, director of DLA Logistics Operations and commander of joint regional combat support, tours DLA Energy operations at Defense Fuel Support Point Okinawa, Japan, Oct. 26, 2023. DFSP Okinawa is the primary source for aviation fuel supporting missions launching from Kadena Air Base and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, both located on Okinawa, supporting operations in the East China Sea and other critical areas across the region. Courtesy photo
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 231026-D-XX999-0002
Making the balloon newsworthy was the poor state of U.S.-Chinese relations. America’s pacing threat spent 2023 expanding into the South China Sea, threatening Taiwan and growing its military. The Biden administration countered by reinforcing relationships and outposts. DLA helped U.S. Indo-Pacific Command by increasing warehouse storage on Guam, improving fuel delivery in the Marianas, building a fuel point in northern Australia and writing new subsistence prime vendor contracts. It also defueled Red Hill in Hawaii, a move prompted by a leak two years ago but with the added benefit of increasing operational flexibility. 

DLA responded to threats in 2023 holistically. To prioritize resources, the agency wrote its first global posture plan. This classified document captures DLA’s worldwide commitments and will drive exercise participation in the coming years. It establishes the strategic approach necessary for prioritizing resources if the agency is ever again faced with geographically distant crises.