OCORT kicks off

By Jake Joy DLA Disposition Services

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Among Defense Logistics Agency major sub-commands, DLA Disposition Services remains the most expeditionary. Its civilian disposal and environmental specialists and reserve component service members fill more downrange billets, and fill them more often, than other parts of the agency, simply because of the field-centric nature of much of its disposal work.  

DLA’s disposal experts address workforce expeditionary training needs through the annual Overseas Contingency Operations Readiness Training, or “OCORT” exercise, which kicked off with orientation sessions June 10 and will run through the 21st at two Michigan military installations in the Battle Creek area.

During the course of the training, two military-civilian teams will set up shop at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base and at the Fort Custer Training Center, both within a short drive of command headquarters at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center. The training begins with the timed construction of a mobile field kit. The kits are called Expeditionary Site Sets, and they include all of the tools, equipment, power and portable buildings needed to conduct a wide range of disposal tasks just about anywhere in the world. The agency currently has four ESSs pre-positioned in North America, Europe and in the Indo-Pacific region, ready to be shipped and erected at a moment’s notice.

The annual training is meant to prepare the teams for short-notice deployments to faraway lands and austere situations. In fact, some OCORT participants from last year will soon deploy to Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, where a team will erect its ESS and begin processing, demilitarizing and scrapping materials that have accumulated for years at the largest U.S. base in the Balkans. The skills they have developed through OCORT, and their familiarity with setting up the ESS, should allow them to quickly and efficiently construct a functioning disposition site shortly after they arrive in country in June. Command leadership also intends to identify a suitable Indo-Pacific region exercise in 2020 and potentially deploy an ESS somewhere in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility the following year, to ensure the expeditionary kits remain fully functional and the deployment teams maintain their familiarity with kit construction and components.

OCORT is a training exercise, but once participants erect their sites, they will begin accepting real property turn-ins from real agency customers. Regional military units and government civilian agencies are allowed and encouraged to use the DLA training event as an opportunity to clear out damaged, defunct, unneeded and unwanted property from their books. Last year, one of the exercise teams set up shop at Camp Grayling, the largest National Guard training facility in the U.S., where trainees handled the disposal and destruction of tons of property.

DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon addressed this year’s participants at the close of their orientation day. He said his expectations for exercise personnel would be “no different” than for those on deployment and no different than those working their day-to-day jobs at one of the agency’s disposal sites scattered across the globe.

“That’s kind of the point,” he said, talking about an organization’s need to deliver the same product or service level regardless of location. “Our most critical tasks – if we don’t do them the same everywhere, you get a different outcome. … With standard processes, you get standard outcomes and consistency. That’s one of the keys to running a good business. Customers want consistency.”

Cannon also reminded exercise participants to make safety the most important thing at their training sites.

“There’s nothing that happens at any of our sites that warrants you not following safety procedures,” he said, encouraging people to step in if they have concerns, regardless of their rank or position. “If you see something unsafe, stop it. Safety’s no joke.”