DLA experts deploy to support NORTHCOM border mission

By DLA Public Affairs

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A team of Defense Logistics Agency experts deployed to South Texas has been providing support to U.S. Northern Command in its mission to physically strengthen the United States’ southern border.

DLA’s Rapid Deployment Team Blue is there to help NORTHCOM and U.S. Customs and Border Protection obtain construction materials, along with fuel and oil for equipment and vehicles. Team members also help the Army coordinate food rations and holiday meals to soldiers working to reinforce the barrier between the United States and Mexico.

DLA’s contribution began in October, when NORTHCOM asked DLA to send a team to assess what the agency could provide. DLA quickly deployed RDT Blue, whose experts have been providing logistical support from their base in San Antonio, led by Air Force Col. Eduardo Quero, commander of the team.

RDT Blue is one of three RDTs that DLA Logistics Operations keeps trained and ready to send anywhere in the world to provide logistical support to other federal departments and agencies. RDTs deploy to support wilderness firefighting, aid Americans affected by hurricanes and flooding, provide humanitarian assistance and perform other missions that require the specialized logistical expertise only DLA can provide.

For this mission, RDT Blue includes experts from several DLA major subordinate commands — seasoned pros in obtaining  construction materials, fuel, and food supplies through contracting or interagency agreements. They’re joined by a universal customer account specialist, an expert in acquiring and ensuring the proper delivery of multiple categories of supplies. Specialists in legal issues and disposal of excess materials have been supporting the effort remotely.

Just as crucial as the team members on the ground are their partners working from DLA’s MSCs around the country, Quero emphasized. “Our RDT … has access to the entire supply-chain enterprise to facilitate the logistics needs in the [border mission].”

The team’s deputy commander agreed. “Being embedded with the customer knowing that the whole of the agency is behind us makes our support much more capable," said Eric Gray.

“Working in sync with the superb team from the DLA Joint Logistics Operations Center, the DLA Distribution Logistics Operations Center and the Command and Control Centers from DLA Troop Support, DLA Energy, and DLA Disposition Services has been key to the mission’s overall success,” Gray added.

In addition to supplying the usual materials and fuels, the RDT also fulfilled a special request from the commander of the Army’s 4th Sustainment Brigade. As late November approached, he asked DLA to provide a full Thanksgiving meal for the troops deployed on the border.

“It’s an honor to be able to help provide the troops with a holiday meal while they’re away from home,” said Joe Cauvin, a DLA Troop Support employee who specializes in the Subsistence supply chain. “If they can’t be with their families, having a traditional Thanksgiving meal can give a sense of comfort and remind the troops that they are not forgotten while they’re away.” 

Joining Quero, Gray and Cauvin for this deployment of RDT Blue are Jamal Brooks and Rick Bulson of DLA Land & Maritime; Bryant Jackson of DLA Distribution; Greg Stephens of DLA Troop Support; and Katherine Meadows of DLA Energy. Pete Gentry and Ron Williams from DLA Disposition Services have supported remotely, along with Army Lt. Col. Patrick Vergona, from the Office of General Counsel.

As the Army units complete their work reinforcing physical structures, DLA’s role in the border mission has shifted to helping soldiers and Marines prepare to dispose of excess barrier materials and scrap metal. DLA Disposition Services will soon send specialists from several locations to aid in that effort.