DLA, Joint Reserve Force partnership remains strong

By Kristin Molinaro DLA Land and Maritime

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Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime’s Joint Reserve Force provided an update to key leaders at its annual summit Dec. 1 at the Defense Supply Center Columbus.

The Joint Forces Operational Summit brings together active duty and reserve military members with DLA Land and Maritime leadership to strengthen partnerships and discuss opportunities to expand JRF’s role across the enterprise. More than 50 people attended the summit, including directors and deputies from various organizations across DLA Land and Maritime and senior leadership from the Joint Force Headquarters led by U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Deborah Haven.

Joint Team Leader U.S. Army Col. Jim Challender opened the all-day session with an overview of the JRF, followed by DLA Land and Maritime Commander U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Michelle Skubic, who provided information on DLA Director Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams’ strategic plan released in November. Skubic spoke on the importance of Land and Maritime’s partnership with the JRF and encouraged directors to continue providing opportunities to maximize the resource.

“As reservists, it starts with you as a warfighter…and you may also serve here at Land and Maritime as one of us going forward. You’re that face to our allies and industry partners delivering goods to the battlefield,” said Skubic, recognizing that nearly half of the JRF team are also employed full-time as DLA employees.

Skubic highlighted accomplishments of the JRF over the last year.

The 35-person team provided significant support to DLA – spearheading efforts to clear $10.6 million in material for the warfighter and conducting market research for $9.3 million in contracts supporting the EMALL Backorder Reduction Initiative. The team also completed a Logistics Supportability Analysis for the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, an effort spawned from the 2016 JFOS recommendations.

“The work you’ve done on the Condition Code L items in particular has filled backorders, has made a difference to the warfighter…we can’t underscore how critical and how relevant that is to that first line of effort: warfighter support,” Skubic said, referencing one of the five lines of effort outlined in the DLA Director’s strategic plan. “And if you took the last strategic plan and this strategic plan, the most consistent thread is that focus on warfighter first. It starts with the Secretary of Defense. Of Secretary Mattis’ three priorities, the first and foremost is the readiness and lethality of the force.”

Haven, the J9 director and former DLA Land and Maritime deputy director of Maritime Customer Operations, spoke on the increasing importance and relevancy of the Joint Reserve Force’s partnership with the combat support logistics agency in meeting the needs of warfighters. Haven provided an overview of J9’s area of responsibility and the health of the force. She reported that the force averages 50 personnel mobilized at any point in time.

“We’ve done a lot of great contributory support but now we need to concentrate our efforts on taking it to the next level. We need to understand the business of operating in the DLA Land and Maritime space, and we also need to be ready to go forward to these exercises and flex our military readiness muscles,” Haven said. “What do we need to be prepared to do, what do we need to be trained to do?”

Several reservists were recognized with individual awards during the summit, including DLA Senior Reserve Officer of the Year U.S. Army Maj. Bruce Neighbor.

Following a short break, several Land and Maritime experts briefed on JRF’s impact to their organization and how they maximized opportunities. Maritime Customer Operations’ Deputy Readiness Officer John O’Keefe reported on the successes of integrating JRF into projects. The focus is in backorder reduction initiatives but the reservists also receive training as customer account specialists.

“This training directly prepares them to deploy for DLA, and backorder reduction remains critical to us moving forward,” O’Keefe said. “Chasing backorders isn’t a glamorous job but that’s what customer account specialists need to do.”

Maritime Supplier Operation’s Penny Morgan-Loper spoke on the JRF’s contributions to the Counterfeit Detection and Avoidance Program. Maritime Supplier Operation’s Pre Award team briefed the impact of the reservists support awarding contracts valued at $1 million. Michael Lanning, Continuous Process Improvement branch chief in the Business Process Support Directorate, briefed the first-time effort to incorporate reservists into tiger teams to clear backorders at DLA Distribution facilities. In August, the tiger team cleared more than 75,000 items in two weeks. Additional briefers Charles Sharp, Megan Rodino, Jessica Bradhurst, Kim Watson and Neighbor each mentioned accomplishments and benefits of the reserve force’s collaboration with DLA Land and Maritime.

DLA Land and Maritime Readiness Officer Craig Linderman gave a deployment and exercise update, followed by Don Schulze, DLA Land and Maritime deputy chief of staff, who provided a state of the union. 

A joint team building activity capped the event.

As the forum wrapped up, the leadership stressed the importance of collaboration and lessons learned over the previous year as the collective active, reserve, and civilian personnel build candidate projects for the year ahead.

With the global posture and the strategic plan, it’s changing how the reserves are going to be used just like it’s changing how DLA is operating,” Haven said.