Bagram, Afghanistan –
Two incoming commanders were shown how the Defense Logistics Agency supports their forces during a recent tour at Bagram, Afghanistan.
Marine Brig. Gen. Brian Wolford, the new Bagram Airfield commander, and Army Col. David Raugh, new Area Support Group-Afghanistan commander, were invited by local DLA leaders to tour both the tactical fuel point and DLA Disposition Services’ site at Bagram to see a small portion of what DLA provides to the warfighter in forward areas.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steven Harrell, officer-in-charge for DLA Disposition Services in Afghanistan, described the primary focus of the tour as a way to showcase his team’s physical capabilities, explain their ability to support surge operations when needed, and discuss their mobile/expeditionary capabilities inherent to Afghanistan. He said Wolford and Raugh were both engaged throughout the entire tour and asked key questions.
“Is the equipment used for disposition DLA-owned or theatre provided, what process or guidelines are followed to determine how to dispose of items, and what steps are involved in the ammo abatement process (ensuring no live ammunition is trapped in disposal items) and what drives our requirements,” Harrell said, citing a few examples.
Watching a large diesel engine get sheared in half added some excitement. Harrell said both guests requested to be notified when there are complete vehicles being sheared so they can watch. He said they were also impressed with the mobility of the equipment, the flexibility of operations and the ability to surge our contracted labor, military reservists and civilians trained to work in expeditionary settings.
“One item of interest for both was the care taken to segregate copper from disposed items, and shipping it to Kuwait for proper disposal.” Harrell said. “This material is a force protection concern and cannot be released through regular scrap sales. This effort protects forces by denying hostile forces material for making explosive formed projectiles.”
The tour also made use of Bagram’s sand table, which helps study expeditionary site planning in a 3D-environment. Harrell said the table there was built in 2017 and has been very useful in planning each Afghanistan mobile disposition mission and site reset. He said the current table set up shows a mobile mission that is being planned to support the memorandum of agreement between DLA and the Combined Security Training Command – Afghanistan. The Afghanistan team performs mobile disposition missions to demilitarize and dispose of equipment provided to Afghan forces by the United States that is no longer usable. When conditions present themselves as safe and manageable, deploying teams to remote locations where the work is needed reduces risks from using convoys to bring the equipment to a DLA site.
“When presented with a brief on this particular mission, along with the variables that have to be considered, the general stated that he appreciated how complex our operations were and was glad to see this amount of detail put into the planning,” Harrell said.
The use of the sand table is something Harrell said is taught during Advanced Expeditionary Work Operations Course in Battle Creek, Michigan, and he expects the one in Bagram to remain a staple of the planning process for personnel there.
“We are in an expeditionary environment that is still an active warzone, so our planning involves intelligence, force protection, contractors, partner unit coordination, and experience from lessons learned,” Harrell said. “We have to use every tool available and this one allows for the key players to talk the process out.”