Fort Stewart, Georgia, Feb. 25, 2020 —
Members of one of the Defense Logistics Agency’s Rapid Deployment Teams got the chance to put their recent training to the test during the Turbo Distribution 20-1 exercise at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Feb. 7-16.
The U.S. Transportation Command’s Joint Task Force Port Opening simulation provided an integrated training opportunity for JTF units including members of the Air Force’s 621st Contingency Response Group, the Army’s 689th Rapid Port Opening Element and DLA.
Five of RDT Blue’s 13-members reported to Fort Stewart Feb. 7 prepared to support federal agencies during the annual exercise.
“The five who participated simulated the DLA deployment team, the initial group that would assess the needs of the mission and determine what type of follow-on support is needed,” said Amy Stayer, RDT program manager. She and outgoing RDT Blue Commander Army Col. Mike Post were exercise trainers/ observers.
The RDT Blue Team members were: Navy Capt. Timothy Bellott, RDT commander; Michaela “Mickey” Millan, operations officer; Johnny Simon, information technology specialist; Efrain Acevedo Santiago, expeditionary contracting officer; and Christine Varner, petroleum specialist. All of them completed training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, Dec. 9-17.
Exercise Planner John Snead explained that Turbo Distribution 20-1 posed a contingency-based scenario in which the JTF and DLA were tasked with opening up an aerial port. DLA’s mission focused on logistics planning, setting up infrastructure and establishing communications.
Bellott coordinated interactions between the JTF commander and DLA team members. He also ensured his team had reach-back capability to their major subordinate commands and the DLA Headquarters staff.
Millan had never deployed before volunteering for the RDT.
“I try to keep the information flowing, making sure that the deputy and commander are informed and well aware of what’s going on,” she said. “There’s a huge learning curve. I really enjoyed it and I had good leadership.”
As former Blue Team commander, Post was on the ground at Fort Stewart to hand off the reins to Bellott and said he got to know the team members during the training and observed their strengths and weaknesses.
“The scenarios Amy and John provided as an exercise control group really provided the means to start thinking about what exactly our requirements are in support of, whether it’s a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenario or a contingency operation,” he said.
Post was impressed with the team’s ability to adapt and meet mission requirements.
“Mickey came in and wanted to be the expeditionary contracting officer since she has a contracting background,” he said. “She doesn’t have prior military experience, but her can-do attitude was just outstanding. I was extremely impressed and just proud to be part of the team.”
Post added that 621st CRG Commander Col. Gregory Cyrus experienced connectivity challenges during the previous year’s Turbo Distribution Exercise that nearly caused the unit to fall short of meeting mission-essential tasks.
“I told him we had a phenomenal SME in Johnny Simon,” Post said. “The very first day the Air Force’s communications went down and they couldn’t restore the system. They woke Johnny up at 3 a.m. and he was able to get them up and running so they could meet their next three METS in a row.”
RDT members didn’t have workstation access at the start of the exercise.
“Those first two days, the DLA team set up their communications gear and got to work literally sitting on the ground. For two days, they worked out in the sun and didn’t miss a beat. There wasn’t a single complaint. They just wanted to find out how they could help,” Bellott said, adding that some workdays lasted 12-13 hours.
Millan said she was able to locate a chair the second day.
“It can be a little bit overwhelming, but I was really surprised how well everything was coming together, she said. “DLA was able to jump right in and do what we were there to do and we were embraced and able to help out. I’m proud of that.”
She described her Camp Atterbury training as detail-oriented and compared it to a puzzle.
“The pieces didn’t quite come together until I went to this exercise at Fort Stewart,” she said. “That’s when the training came together to form a beautiful picture of what I was supposed to do.”