New DLA command creates joint ops center to boost warfighter support

By Elizabeth Stoeckmann, DLA Energy Public Affairs

A new joint operations team is now active at the newly created Defense Logistics Agency CENTCOM & SOCOM headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

The Joint Logistics Operations Center is a result of the agency’s command-and-control initiative, which was completed earlier this year and made DLA’s regional commanders the single face of the agency to the combatant commanders they serve.

The JLOC’s creation was a priority for former DLA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch and outgoing DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM commander Army Col. Derrin Williams, who wanted the center operational before he turned over command to Army Col. Archie Herndon, said Robert McGuire, the deputy JLOC chief. McGuire worked for eight years in U.S. Special Operations Command’s operational plans and exercises division before joining DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM.

Before the C2 transition, the regional command was known as DLA Central. The roles, responsibilities and relationships were aligned with the DLA primary-level field activities. The command also lacked the authority to direct independent actions. DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM has that full authority and also supports several of the components who fall under U.S. Special Operations Command.

“The challenge was immense,” Williams said: “Create a single DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM C2 capability where none existed, integrate new organizations and support an ever-changing and fluid area of responsibility covering 20 countries on two continents.”

The JLOC falls under the authority of DLA Logistics Operations and operates in CENTCOM’s headquarters. In less than six months, the JLOC formed an eight-member team of a battle captain, noncommissioned officer in charge, civilian deputy and five civilian operations officers, who all work in shifts unless there is a crisis.

Navy Reserve Cmdr. Andrew Brackenridge, chief of the JLOC, said his four-year experience as a battle captain at DLA Headquarters prepared him for his new role. His previous deployments with DLA to Afghanistan and Kuwait and with Navy Expeditionary Logistics Group to Bahrain also gave him the experience of working with the DLA Support Teams in the region and the warfighter in the field.

“Our biggest priority is assisting and supporting strategic decisions for the regional commander,” Brackenridge said. “We are the information nucleus for all DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM activities, to include product development, decision support and situational awareness.”

The operations center manipulates real-time data from multiple, worldwide sources to provide an authoritative common operational picture, executive and situational summaries and global update briefs for decision makers. The JLOC staff also forms a crisis action team and participates in exercises led by the Joint Staff and combatant commands.

The JLOC’s responsibilities also extend to DLA’s Rapid Deployment Teams, PLFA elements and supported units coordinating critical requests for information.

The team is multifunctional and excels in supporting unanticipated requirements, McGuire said. “Every day is different, depending on the mission.”

The JLOC also supports operations and contingencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Oman, he said.

“Our biggest challenge is now the [special operations] mission because of its global mission requirements supporting direct and indirect operations,” McGuire said. “We have more combatant commanders to work with and [theater special operations command] requirements.”

Having the DLA operational headquarters staffs integrated as the eyes and ears of the regional commander, Brackenridge said, is critical to the JLOC success to better integrate with personnel management and operating functions.

“This is a critical element we are working on as we grow the DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM JLOC,” he said

More than just a new structure, JLOC inherits diverse personnel from across DLA.

For example, Edward Miiler, former DLA liaison officer to U.S. Special Operations Command, handles requests for information, commander’s critical information requirements and product development for the DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM commander.

“I analyze the reports downrange in Kuwait and determine the impact to mission and either forward to DLA JLOC or handle internally,” Miiler said. “I help make the decision cycle easier for the commander through strategic communication and visual presentations, command briefings and special projects.”

A retired Army operations officer, Miiler said there are still a lot of adjustments and roles being defined with the stand-up of the JLOC.

Wendy Yonce, a former DLA Aviation program manager, plans key-leader engagements for the DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM commander and is working on a standard operating procedure for commanders traveling to the AOR.

“I’m currently working with DLA [Logistics Operations] on purpose and intent, roles and responsibilities, timelines, country requirements and protocols,” Yonce said. “I want to create a state-of-the-art product with hyperlinks, menus, guides.”

Yonce, action officer for the recent DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM change of command, said she appreciates the learning opportunity and professional development she gains from working in the JLOC.

Patricia Kowalski, one of the original DLA Central embedded liaison officers to U.S. CENTCOM, gained her logistics management experience through DLA’s corporate intern program.

“As an operations officer in the JLOC, I have the opportunity to get involved in many aspects of support to our customers,” Kowalski said. “My focus is preparing briefs on current logistics operational support to update senior leadership on DLA's efforts in supporting the warfighter, which is briefed by the DLA C&S commander to the DLA director.”

DLA afforded Kowalski opportunities to learn new things. “My most rewarding experience was as an exercise planner, participating in several military exercises,” she said.

“JLOC's strongest assets are its people, both civilian and military, providing continuity and capability in times of crisis.” Brackenridge said.

“It’s important for the DLA enterprise to know about us. The logistics environment is evolving, and through unity of effort we increase solutions and support to the warfighter … DLA is a large part of that success,” he said.

Brackenridge will return to his civilian job as a senior unit chief at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to be replaced by Marine Corps Maj. Paul Herzberg.