PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 6, 2019 —
In March 2018, the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support officially expanded its joint Operations and Plans Directorate, or J3/5, providing a more robust structure by adding increased customer support and coordination to whole of government partners, and dedicated planning teams to prepare for contingencies.
And as Hurricane Dorian continues its course up the Atlantic, the benefits of that evolution are becoming clearer to Dorothy O’Connell, who is currently deployed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Response Coordination Center in Washington D.C.
“[My position] connects Troop Support with DLA Headquarters, FEMA and other agencies as key whole of government partners,” O’Connell said. “It fills a gap [that existed prior to J3/5’s expansion] and gives [Troop Support] a direct line to FEMA and other agencies to help clarify their needs and expedite Troop Support’s response to requirements for our customers who are directly supporting relief and recovery efforts.”
As J3/5’s whole of government customer support liaison, also the first of her ilk among DLA’s subordinate commands, O’Connell has been Troop Support’s hub for customers such as FEMA, the Department of State and the U.S. Coast Guard – all agencies currently engaged with the ASOC and in need of Troop Support commodities to facilitate support to regions affected by Dorian.
That role, O’Connell said, has helped her be better prepared to provide timely information to Troop Support and help coordinate requirements with DLA HQ and Troop Support customers through the ASOC.
“I got a call this morning letting me know that Ft. Bragg was closing [due to Hurricane Dorian], and I knew [Troop Support] had generators scheduled to be delivered there today,” O’Connell said. “Being here [at the NRCC] and knowing my FEMA and military coordination counterparts, I was able to communicate with the generator team in Philadelphia to get ahead of it and coordinate between their folks and Ft. Bragg to eliminate possible confusion and make sure the delivery drivers, equipment and customers knew what to expect.”
Another role O’Connell plays is a translator of sorts.
“I make sure requests for support from FEMA and other response and recovery agencies are clear and complete to avoid confusion,” O’Connell said.
That direct coordination “eliminates hours and hours” of critical response time and ensures the right item gets to the right place at the right time quickly.
The 18-month young J3/5 expansion also provided for experience-based planning and exercise support to help keep Troop Support ready for this real-world event and others, according to J3/5 exercise support’s lead logistics management specialist Kurt Lawler.
“Since the reorganization, we now have people dedicated to collaborate with combatant commands and synchronize our support plans for disaster relief,” Lawler said. “We then rehearse these concepts each year prior to the hurricane season through an extensive table top process which enables us to improve our internal operations and communications in support of real-world events.”
In addition, by participating in joint exercises with organizations like U.S. Northern Command and FEMA, Lawler said, J3/5 can build more robust relationships as well as rehearse and validate external processes and procedures to ensure better communication of expectations with whole of government partners.
Lawler said that building these relationships during exercise are key to Troop Support’s logistics success.
“It lets us ‘build the rolodex’ we need when things like Dorian happen, and improves our response as an agency,” he said.
According to Troop Support J3/5 Director, Navy Capt. Timothy Griffin, the goal of the reorganization was to provide a coordination hub for Troop Support command and customers to facilitate more optimal logistics support to military commands and fellow government agencies for its five commodities: Subsistence, Clothing and Textiles, Construction and Equipment, Medical and Industrial Hardware.
The increased capability of J3/5 continues to benefit regional support in the wake of Dorian, helping Troop Support expedite delivery of materiel to include meals, ready-to-eat, commercial shelf stable meals, bottled water and generators with more requests expected for expedited acquisition and delivery.