FORT BELVOIR, Virginia –
Established in January, the DLA Nuclear Enterprise Support Office was stood up by Defense Logistics Agency Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch to position the agency to be fully responsive to the needs of the Air Force and Navy nuclear communities.
The sole mission of the office is to synchronize DLA’s enterprisewide support to the nuclear enterprise and engage strategically with DLA customers, said Air Force Col. Steve Petters, NESO’s military deputy director.
“When people think nuclear enterprise, they tend to focus on the weapon, which iis not in DLA’s portfolio” he said. “What is in our portfolio is just about everything required to take that weapon and make it a credible nuclear deterrent: the bomber or missile or submarine, the communication system to support the President’s responsibilities to execute command and control, even the personal gear necessary for our aicrew, submariners and missile launch crews to perform their jobs successfully.”
While past support focused primarily on supporting the shooters using nuclear command and control communications systems, a collection of cyber systems designed to communicate and execute nuclear events, DLA has recently expanded its support to the systems’ transport and sensor functions as well.
“We have in the past focused on the shooters,” Petters said. “But those warfighters must have systems in place to communicate with them where they should go and when they should launch. There’s also a transportation piece, communication gear associated with the nuclear command and control communications aspect, and the sensors, radars and satallelites used in the detection of possible nuclear threats against our nation. Once General Busch said, ‘Hey, what about the rest?’ we realized that we’ve got this other huge piece to support.”
To date, 22 of the more than 140 sensors and transport systems associated with the nuclear enterprise have DLA weapon system designator codes assigned to them, allowing the agency to identify national stock numbers for supply parts. Along with the 18 systems for shooters, like the Air Force’s B-2 bombers and the Navy’s Ohio-class submarines, these WSDCs account for more than 500,000 NSNs, almost a 10th of the entire agency’s total managed items, Petters said.
With only a small handful of the total weapon systems assigned codes, the office is conducting research and analysis with a task force to identify more NSNs and determine if DLA will be used as a source of supply.
“NESO has an internal and external focus. Externally, we have offered ourselves up as an entry point to any customer with any nuclear enterprise issue that DLA touches. If a customer is having an issue with DLA’s supply or demand chain and can’t get the issue resolved, they can call us, and we will then go out, find the right person to handle the issue and make sure that it’s resolved,” he said. “We can go into DLA Aviation and talk directly to that group of people that are working Air Force nuclear enterprise issues, and it’s the same at DLA Land and Maritime with the Navy.”
Internally, the office is in charge of maintaining situational awareness of the health, performance and sustainment of nuclear enterprise weapon systems and identifying gaps and shortfalls in customer support, Petters said. Although the office is nestled within DLA Logistics Operations, it has direct access to the agency’s field activities.
NESO is also working closely with the military services on nuclear enterprise weapon system support improvement initiatives. One of the first things the office did was assign a permanent DLA liaison officer to U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska, and position a customer support representative at Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters in Shreveport, Louisiana.
As the lead “touch point” for the agency, part of NESO’s challenge will be working with customers that are still trying to understand their requirements for forecasting supply and demand, Petters said.
“The best asset DLA has is an educated and informed customer,” he said. “Our goal is to meet requirements. We can’t do that if our customer is struggling to tell us what their requirements are. Sometimes we haven’t received the demand data, so we don’t convey to our industrial base to keep up. So we are encouraging our customers to operate in the nuclear world as you would anywhere else. If you need the part, order the part. Although we in NESO are aware others in DLA are working hard to support these requests, we feel it’s our responsibility to work with this team to ensure that the customer is delighted.”