FORT BELVOIR, Va., May 7, 2020 —
As one of the Defense Logistics Agency’s three regional commands, DLA Indo-Pacific boasts a forward presence that covers over half the earth’s surface.
The command’s footprint spans 36 countries and 16 time zones, with fewer than 1,400 service members, civilians, contractors and local nationals integrating DLA support in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, Okinawa, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, Philippines and South Korea.
DLA Indo-Pacific Commander Navy Capt. Kristin Acquavella said COVID-19 support has highlighted the command’s vast mission and DLA’s ability to support troops and family members in the region. When the virus began spreading throughout South Korea in late February, 180-plus employees across the peninsula moved to extended daily operations including weekends.
“They quickly realized they had to take measures to isolate and insulate the spread of the virus,” she said.
The number of COVID-19 cases rose in South Korea nearly a month before stay-at-home orders and mass telework impacted DLA Headquarters. New daily cases exceeded 800 at the country’s peak, Acquavella continued.
“As we were dealing with Korea, we were also monitoring Japan, which is now becoming a hot spot and surpassed South Korea for the aggregate number of cases. Having people forward when a contingency starts is extremely valuable and important; it’s why we have a forward presence,” she said, adding that the command already relies on time-tested virtual communication channels to conduct business.
While providing supplies to safeguard its own employees, DLA Indo-Pacific also supplied critical items for regional troops such as those in the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The command sent food, personal protective equipment, cleaning items, test kids and more to the USS Theodore Roosevelt when it docked in Guam to quarantine infected sailors. DLA Troop Support expedited delivery of enough test kits to enable testing of crew members and provided additional test kits for retesting after they re-board the ship, now being disinfected. And although the ship’s galleys closed, pre-packaged food from DLA has helped feed the small crew left onboard.
Personal protective equipment and test kits were also sent to the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, as well as the destroyers, cruisers and submarines assigned to them.
“The medical supply chain is strained, so a limiting factor is our allocation as DoD competes with national priorities. DLA Troop Support has just been incredible balancing all the priorities and expanding other sources of supply to alleviate backorders,” Acquavella said.
DLA Indo-Pacific also assists U.S. Army Pacific’s Joint Forces Land Component Command in supporting civil authorities during disaster relief operations in U.S. states and territories including Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the American Samoa. When Federal Emergency Management Agency modeling showed that hospital beds for coronavirus patients would be limited in those areas, DLA Indo-Pacific helped the Army deploy hospital capability to Guam.
“We assigned our Guam warfighter support representative as a liaison to the effort and within weeks of her deploying to Guam, set up a DLA Indo-Pacific orientation brief on the specific capabilities and capacities DLA could support,” Acquavella said.
“There are many spinning plates all going on at the same time, a lot of unique moving pieces that are not centric to one service or one country within our area of responsibility,” she added.
With her tour as regional commander ending in June, Acquavella said she is confident DLA Indo-Pacific is prepared for any mission. The captain praised the team for being proactive, flexible and passionate about the mission.
“They have done a fantastic job collectively – COVID-19 is just one example,” she said. “The team in Indo-Pacific does this day in and day out. They are truly a talented and professional cadre of men and women on the pointy end of the spear. The agency can be verifiably proud of the collective team and their continued focus on warfighter first but people always.”