DLA, USACE discuss joint objectives during partnership event

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

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Leaders from the Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shared information about research and development, military construction program execution, whole-of-government support and other topics during the fourth USACE/DLA Annual Partnership Day Nov. 13.

DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Skubic welcomed Army Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, USACE commander to discuss how the organizations can improve mutual support and collaboration.

“We absolutely have common interests in serving one another, the warfighter, the nation and its taxpayers in how we go about our businesses and processes,” Skubic said. “We continue to have opportunities in warehouse and [information technology] modernization, leveraging our data, and synchronizing our research and development efforts.”

Research and Development Chief Dave Koch said DLA’s R&D program capabilities can benefit DLA and USACE.

“We think R&D has come a long way in the last three years,” Koch said, adding that although R&D comprises only 20 people, it includes 14 programs and about 25 projects. “We give DLA a tremendous advantage in sustainment because we’re able to test out these new capabilities and keep them out of the Defense Working Capital Fund so there’s no impact to customers.” 

Koch highlighted three current DLA projects: warehouse modernization, cyber vulnerability assessment, and eliminating potentially harmful chemicals from ready-to-eat meals.

Spellmon said he appreciates the opportunity to meet with DLA particularly during the pandemic. He said the relationship between USACE and DLA pre-dates the annual partnership days as he recalled DLA’s role in providing pumps for New York City tunnels during Hurricane Sandy, and transformers, poles and wire to help rebuild a power grid when Hurricane Maria hit in Puerto Rico in 2017.

“We just could not have done that without DLA,” he said. “This is an important partnership and I want to build on it during my tenure.”

Spellmon highlighted restoration and modernization of engineering and military construction projects, as well as increased whole-of-government support. He said USACE’s portfolio of programs, projects and support for the Army, Air Force, Defense Department and other federal partners has grown from $40 billion to $68 billion in one year. Spellmon added that USACE has people in 110 countries and has completed $15 billion of work in the design and construction of the southwest border wall, its biggest construction project since the Panama Canal. USACE also acts as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s engineer for natural disaster response.

“Our challenge is we don’t get any more generals or senior executives to get this on the ground, so we’ve got to find ways where we can continue to meet the nation’s needs. We want to do it faster and cheaper, and DLA has been a great partner in that,” Spellmon said.

Skubic welcomed USACE’s solutions and innovations.

“As both supported and supporting commands to one another, the opportunities are rich and limited only by our imagination and willingness to explore,” she said.

Other topics included a review of action items, energy programs, and sustainment restoration and modernization.

DLA Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Gavin Lawrence briefed on areas of increased collaboration between DLA and USACE such as fire and emergency systems, tailored logistics support and special operations equipment like personal protective equipment.

“Our construction and equipment team provides everything from light bulbs to bulldozers, providing a diverse set of material and service solutions to bring the best value to our customers,” he said, adding that DLA saves USACE time and money. “Our goal from a DLA perspective is to allow your project managers to focus on construction management so the logistics piece can be handled by DLA.”

Skubic said she remembers attending the first USACE/DLA forum in 2017 and hopes the next iteration will be in person.

“When we work together and understand each other’s mutual positions, it will help us find that common ground for true solutions going forward. Thank you for keeping an open mind for those solutions,” she said. “It's only through strong trust and partnership that we can truly come up with a better tomorrow.”