DLA adds deployment team as role in disaster relief increases

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

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Federal agencies have increasingly relied on the Defense Logistics Agency for critical support to disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in the past decade, and DLA’s commitment is now reflected in the addition of another full-time team of volunteers ready to deploy on short notice.

In the past, DLA has had two full-time teams, Black and Gold, and one alternate team, each comprising 13 members. But since the teams have proved so successful, three full-time teams have now been established: the Red, White and Blue Teams. 

The teams consist of a commander (a Colonel or a Navy Captain), a Deputy Commander (generally, a GS-15 civilian) and an Operations Officer (usually a GS-14 civilian). The latter positions can be a civilian or military members, but they must have a broad knowledge of DLA. 

The other members of the team are subject matter experts or liaisons appointed by their organizations based on their expertise in a particular supply chain, including: Subsistence (provided by DLA Troop Support), fuel (provided by DLA Energy), and construction and barrier materials (provided by DLA Troop Support). The team also includes one DLA Distribution liaison, one DLA Disposition Services liaison, two customer account specialists (provided by various DLA organizations), two information technology application support representatives (provided by DLA Information Operations) and one DLA Office of General Counsel representative.

The Red Team recently completed training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, and has already been tasked to provide disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. 

“We all went through the training, we just got back and we’ve been alerted to go to Puerto Rico,” Deputy Commander George Johnston said. “Our plan is to send the first group of five or maybe six on Oct. 3 – and then the rest of us are going to filter in as quickly as we can.”

Taylor Frazier, professional engineer with DLA Aviation, has been with the Black Team on previous missions. He currently serves as the Red Team's 
Operations Officer. He said depending on the specific area, some regions in Puerto Rico may have had power restored. 

“Currently, there’s power immediately around San Juan, as evidenced by communications and operations around the capital. But we don’t have an assessment of the extent of the power outages,” he said.

Johnston noted this and other information is relayed to the team in a daily situation report.

“We get a daily consolidated SITREP from FEMA and it has whole of government from top to bottom – every agency all the way down to the small business administration and the farm bureau are there,” he said. “You can see the status of everything.”

Frazier said there are already DLA personnel from the Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office and from DLA Energy on the ground in Puerto Rico. They report through the RDT as part of Task Force Virgin Islands/Puerto Rico.

“JCASO is doing what JCASO does — operational contract support integration,” Johnston said. “Task Force America is DLA Energy, so they have quality assurance people on the ground who are checking supplies that are on Puerto Rico. They’re going to remain and manage the Department of Defense inventory.” 

While Frazier is a seasoned RDT member, Johnston admits he is new to the team. He applied last year, but there wasn’t an opening until this year. 

Domonique Hazell-Stallworth, a universal customer account specialist from DLA Land and Maritime, is also a returning team member. 

“This year, the training has been very thorough and efficient,” she said. “Traditionally, we do it on our own, and it’s a slower process. But Atterbury definitely sped it up.”

Distribution Specialist Melissa Frey said she was on the alternate team last year. 

“I didn’t get to do any missions; I was just on standby in case I was needed,” she said.

Now that there are three full-time teams, there is no alternate team. 

Frazier said about 40 percent of the team members remained, while others rotate off and on. 

“I’ve been here since the start,” he said. 

Frazier said he loves the mission the team performs, but he also appreciates the dedication of the team members.

“You get to know these folks intimately because you’re with them 24-7 for extended periods,” he said. “You understand their motivations, and we all share a set of values. It’s really encouraging to work with these folks. Every mission that we do is of significant importance – either to our nation or other nations.” 

Hazell-Stallworth agreed and said the team welcomed her with open arms.

“I will never get this type of experience in my day-to-day job,” she said. 

The combination of seeing her job from a military perspective as well as being directly engaged with her customers is something she said she’s not even sure how to detail on her resume. 

“This is a great experience,” Hazell-Stallworth said. “I’ll continue to be a member as long as they’ll have me.”

Frey teased Hazell-Stallworth: “She learned how to put on an interceptor body armor vest and advanced combat helmet the other day.”

“Yes, and I learned that from her,” Hazell-Stallworth said. “Melissa is a wealth of knowledge. This year is going to be quite exciting; I look forward to it.”