FORT CUSTER, Mich. –
DLA Disposition Services’ annual Overseas Contingency Operations Readiness Training will continue to heighten the bar of excellence for agency field exercises when it convenes in mid-June at sites across Michigan.
OCORT tasks a mix of service members and expeditionary civilians to arrive at a simulated military operation and quickly erect a full service disposition site. Once set up, they’ll begin receiving property from real-world customers while living and working in true summertime field conditions and facing the kinds of puzzles – malfunctioning tools, generator failures, contractor base access issues – that frequently challenge the resilience of disposition teams downrange.
Expeditionary Operations Division Chief Tim Walters has been crafting OCORT scenarios since the inaugural exercise in 2013 and he said the evolution of the event has produced a “win-win” formula for participants and any nearby military units who get a convenient chance to rid themselves of unwanted equipment.
“By supporting real-world customers and their efforts to divest unused, surplus property that’s no longer needed, especially if they’re farther away from a DLA Disposition Services site – [customers] get a build up of property over the years that needs to be turned in, and OCORT basically provides them with access and opportunity to dispose of a large amount of property in a short period of time,” Walters said.
Part of the 2018 training that runs June 9-23 will once again take place within the familiar confines of Fort Custer Training Center, near command headquarters in Battle Creek, and participants will handle the needs of real-life customers from all four branches of the armed services and the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs on equipment turn-ins.
“[Customers] see it as an opportunity to learn. They have personnel turnover, and they don’t always have the knowledge to reach out to a [disposal service representative] as frequently as they should,” Walters said. “This process, and the pre-exercise coordination, there’s an engagement there between the DSRs and the customers. We do site recons and get lots of face-to-face engagement with them. It’s a win-win.”
For the first time, a second expeditionary site will be erected at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, a 230-square mile Michigan National Guard installation about three hours to the north of Battle Creek that serves as the largest Guard training site in the country and the Army’s third largest training space overall. The camp hosts tens of thousands of soldiers from Michigan and neighboring states for training events each year, including the massive annual exercise Northern Strike. Agency specialists are finalizing their pre-event coordination with the Michigan Guard, the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command and others to ensure OCORT creates a quality training iteration for DLA personnel and a valuable service for agency customers.
“We specifically wanted to support the Michigan National Guard and their property divestiture efforts, so we added a second site at Camp Grayling, which adds another level of realism to the training with respect to geographic distance – just like in Afghanistan, we don’t have sites right on top of one another. There’s a good amount of distance, which adds to the realism, especially for the leadership,” Walters said.
This year’s exercise will include nearly 70 players and a hefty support staff, including DLA Information Operations and Installation Operations personnel and dozens of subject matter experts who serve as instructors, observers and exercise controllers.
“We couldn’t do it without our subject matter experts and some of our senior expeditionary civilians. We rely on all of them to play their part and help ensure the exercise is a resounding success,” Walters said, noting that those who have served as site and area managers downrange take the time to coach and mentor others. “It helps them better prepare to fill those roles in future deployments.”
Additional OCORT scenarios are expected to take place at Alpena Air Base in Michigan in July and at Wisconsin’s Volk Field in September as part of U.S. Transportation Command’s TURBO DISTRIBUTION exercise.