Fort Belvoir, Virginia –
Members of the Defense Logistics Agency’s three Rapid Deployment Teams for 2020 recently completed training and preparations to support federal agencies during exercises and real-world scenarios including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
“These teams are standing by, ready to pounce in support of global contingency operations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” said Amy Stayer, RDT program manager.
RDTs are made up of subject matter experts from DLA Distribution, DLA Disposition Services and DLA supply chains, as well as information technology, legal and human resources experts, plus a service member from the DLA Joint Reserve Force. Each team consists of a commander, a colonel or a Navy captain; a deputy commander, usually a GS-15 civilian; and an operations officer, generally a GS-14 civilian. The latter positions can be filled by civilians or service members, but they must have a broad knowledge of DLA.
“These people are DLA’s best and brightest SMEs,” Stayer said. “They’re asking themselves the questions, ‘What do I know? Who needs to know it and have I told them?’”
The Red and White Teams completed deployment training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, Nov. 17-26. The Blue and alternate teams trained Dec. 9-17. The training covers everything from basic first aid to mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle rollover scenarios and includes administrative and medical screening, equipment issue and classroom instruction. Volunteers also learn to apply their specific skills in various situations. The details might change based on the scenario, Stayer said, but team members use their subject matter expertise and connections they have throughout the agency to provide support.
Taylor Frazier, an operations officer on the Red Team, attended RDT training for the third time and said it was exciting to see returning team members coaching new volunteers about team operations.
“RDT operations are much more closely integrated across classes of supply and services than you’ll see elsewhere,” he said. “Team members work collaboratively to solve sustainment issues.”
Stayer said more people volunteered this year than ever to be alternates. Alternates go through the same training as primary members and have proved crucial when team members have had to drop out due to illness or family obligations.
“On the leadership reaction course, we had a brand new member step up and lead the team successfully across a particularly challenging obstacle,” Frazier said. “It reinforces the fact that, at any point, any member may be asked to represent DLA. That’s what makes the RDT different.”
While the RDT’s purpose hasn’t changed, Stayer said there’s a renewed focus on being more proactive and customer-oriented.
“While this program is relatively new, we’re making significant strides at structuring and strengthening this crisis-dependent, highly visible mission,” she said.
Despite some growing pains, Stayer said RDT volunteers have never allowed for mission failure.
“RDT members have passion. It takes an exceptional person to be willing to volunteer for this mission in addition to maintaining their full-time job,” she said. “There’s a lot of salesmanship involved, a lot of interaction and also a lot of fun.”