DLA Reservists go to Poland for Saber Strike 18

By Master Sgt. Scott Mathews

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Thirty one Defense Logistics Agency Reserve Sailors from Distribution Depot Norfolk, Va. and Distribution Depot Susquehanna, Pa. were sent to Poland May 3- June 21 to support and participate in Saber Strike 18.

Saber Strike is an annual exercise conducted at various locations throughout Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with about 18,000 attendees from 19 different countries. The exercise helps allies with readiness training on a broad scale in a complex environment.

It has been an annual exercise since 2010, however, it’s the first time DLA Reserve units have participated.

“Our members supported DLA's Distribution Depot Expeditionary mission training directly with their civilian counterparts to set up, maintain, and break down an expeditionary distribution depot located at Powidz Air Base, Poland,” said Navy Chief Petty Officer Michael Ruputz, Senior Enlisted Leader for DLA Expeditionary Distribution Support Unit Norfolk.

The members were sent in three rotations about 14 days each.  According to Ruputz, the first rotation worked directly with the civilian Distribution Depot Expeditionary (DDXX) to set up the distribution depot. The second rotation continued to receive supplies from Ramstein, Germany and routed via ground to the Baltic Nations. The third supported the actual exercise receiving multiclass supplies via air and ground that were processed (pick, pack, stow, warehoused), and then sent forward via ground. 

He added each DLA Reserve Sailor saved more than $40,000 in labor costs contributing to one or more activities including supporting the set-up of the depot, movement and processing of containers (20-40 foot), 463L pallets, and warehouse pallets. They also supported retrograde power washing containers, tents, and air beams (warehouses) for agriculture inspection.  They broke down, crated, and packed into containers.

The training was good, hands on is always the best way for me to learn and there was a lot of that,” said Navy Logistics Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Harkness. “I would definitely go again and recommend it.”

Ruputz said, “It was a good feeling to be a part of a major exercise that supported our allies,we learned in a real world environment how to do the jobs that the civilian Distribution Depot Expeditionary team does.”