DLA Indo-Pacific Korea employees escalate warfighter support amid COVID-19 challenges

By DLA Indo-Pacific

PRINT  |  E-MAIL

Defense Logistics Agency employees in South Korea are maintaining warfighter support while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic taking its toll across the peninsula and the globe.  

“It’s really been a team effort,” said Army Col. Julia Bell, DLA Indo-Pacific deputy military commander stationed at Camp Humphreys. 

Bell’s team is spread across six locations including South Korea, Japan, Guam and Hawaii. In response to rising infection numbers in Korea and varying rates in other locations, Bell activated the DLA Korea Synchronization Operations Center in early March to maintain command and control of daily operations conducted throughout the region. Linked to DLA’s Agency Synchronization Operations Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., the KSOC is orchestrating the agency’s local response to the pandemic.

Mike Furey from DLA Installation Management volunteered to assist with KSOC daily operations.

“This is challenging and rewarding to be able to support the warfighter in many ways. I was not really hired to do this, but if I can help, I will,” he said. “There is no augmentation on the way, there is no Rapid Deployment Team inbound, it’s just us and we have to make it work – together.”   

Eric Maki, a DLA warfighter support representative for the 7th Air Force at Osan Air Base, Korea, is resolving delays of critical supplies. Working with 7th AF planners and logisticians, DLA Distribution and DLA Troop Support, he’s expediting delivery of repair parts, food and personal hygiene items, while resolving base-access issues to ensure items reached customer locations. Maki also collected personal protective equipment requirements from Osan AB mission support and medical officials to facilitate DLA support. 

Logistics assets in Korea are located primarily in Daegu with the Army’s 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. DLA Distribution, DLA Disposition Services, DLA Energy and DLA Information Operations are all in or near Daegu, where rising infection rates in late February and early March prompted Korean officials to cancel flights and limit movement. 

Charles Thomas, chief of DLA Disposition Services in Gimcheon, about 90 minutes north of Daegu, maintained turn-in and disposal operations despite medical screening requirements for those entering U.S. installations there. He also trained customers on procedures for turning in equipment “in-place” by completing paperwork online and offered alternative methods for urgent turn-ins.  

“I’m a Marine. We get the job done,” he said.  

Bell echoed employees’ eagerness to provide logistics support. 

“Everyone is contributing and, at times, helping in areas far beyond their normal duties,” she said. “These are not normal times, and everyone recognizes that.”