Service members reflect on their DLA deployment

By Jason Kaneshiro DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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Deployments for military and civilian employees at the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support are opportunities to develop a greater appreciation of the role the agency has in supporting overseas operations. Two DLA service members deployed as members of the DLA Support Team in Kuwait from May to November last year.

Army Lt. Col. Paul V. McCullough III, special projects officer with the Construction and Equipment supply chain, and Air Force Master Sgt. Romelia Jackson, an Air Force career broadener with C&E, were deployed to support units in Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan and Syria.

McCullough served as the DST commander. And Jackson continued her duties as a career broadener and assisted with resiliency programs for the team.

“I was the primary liaison representing DLA for the commander of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command,” McCullough said. “In addition to that, I served as the focal point for any DLA issues that came up for any commander across Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, and Jordan across all DLA commodities.”

One of the challenges in adapting to the role of the DST commander was learning as much as he could about all that DLA has to offer to meet the information and logistical demands of the commanders in theater, McCullough said.

“My entire world before leaving for that deployment was C&E,” McCullough said. But while deployed, “my scope expanded exponentially.”

As much of a challenge as he had in adjusting to the mission, McCullough said that he credits much of his success to the team he had under his command. He said that his emphasis on taking care of his unit so they could maximize their efforts to support the warfighter paid off.

“I believe that if I did an outstanding job of taking care of my team in every way possible, that team would be so committed to the mission and taking care of me, the mission would take care of itself,” McCullough said. “So when I needed them to cover something, they would say, ‘Sir, I got this.’”

In addition to resiliency training for her team, Jackson worked on a project to find efficiencies in moving materiel around the trans-Arabian network. The trans-Arabian network is the interconnection of land, sea and air routes used by U.S. forces to move personnel and materiel throughout the Arabian Peninsula.

“It was a good learning environment for me, just because I’m not used to all the different entities of DLA,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s project helped reduce the time needed to move materiel from the DLA Distribution Center in Bahrain to customers in Kuwait from 90-150 days to 8-21 days. The new process involved initiating customs paperwork in anticipation of expected truck shipments, rather than waiting for the trucks to arrive at the border and then getting the paperwork started.

“They were able to let me know when they had a truck coming so I could start the customs paperwork, because you can’t move anything into country without customs,” Jackson said.

Jackson also met with some of the DLA contractors in Bahrain to gain a better understanding of when customs paperwork is initiated.

“It was really good to collaborate with them on just how the whole process works,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s visit to Bahrain aligned with McCullough’s intent to get the DST members out of the DLA offices in Kuwait and engaged with customers to conduct training, strengthen relationships and improve communication.

“Within the first 60 days of my command, I made it a huge priority to go and engage with every single customer my team supported,” McCullough said.

McCullough also implemented change by having his team members attend their customer’s weekly maintenance meetings and train their supply personnel on the various DLA systems that would allow them to track the delivery status of ordered materiel.

“In going to the maintenance meetings, it showed that we were part of their team,” McCullough said. “We have buy-in to make their problems our problems, and we closed the gap between DLA and the customers.”

Jackson said deployments are a good opportunity to learn more about the scope and scale of DLA operations.

“It would be so beneficial to [DLA civilian employees] to see their customers in the desert, getting to put eyes on what they’re working on,” Jackson said.

Military and civilian employees interested in volunteering for upcoming deployments can contact their supervisor for more information on qualifications and eligibility requirements.