FORT BELVOIR, Va., Jan. 11, 2021 —
Editor's note: This is part of a series of 11 stories highlighting individual and team contributions to DLA’s pandemic support.
Army Lt. Col. Mark Laskoski had already witnessed the Defense Logistics Agency’s ability to provide life-saving supplies to fellow Americans during emergencies when he became part of a small DLA Headquarters task force that’s helped manage information and communications for the agency’s COVID-19 support. As a member of one of DLA’s Rapid Deployment Teams, he’d watched DLA provide everything from meals and cots to fuel following hurricanes.
“I’ve seen DLA in action over and over again, but the thing about hurricanes is that our emergency response happens over a short period of time. You get ramped up, you spend about two to three weeks on the ground depending on how bad the storm is, and then you head home and go back to business as usual. But with COVID-19 it’s different; this is a worldwide pandemic and it’s still going strong,” he said.
Laskoski is a DLA Energy civilian and member of the DLA Joint Reserve Force who volunteered to serve on a one-year active-duty tour with the Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office, which ceased operations Sept. 30. After being on active-duty orders for a couple of months with JCASO, he was redirected to DLA’s COVID-19 Task Force.
His first role on the task force was as an action officer collecting information on efforts of DLA’s major subordinate commands to respond to increased demands for personal protective equipment and medical supplies.
“In the beginning there was so much information coming at us we didn’t even know what to do with it all. We were just overwhelmed and quickly realized the need to organize and consolidate the data for easy access,” Laskoski said.
He and other task force members created fact sheets, talking points and briefing slides to update DLA and Defense Department officials on the status of PPE and other vital medical supplies. The information products were also used to help prepare senior leaders for testimony before Congress, interviews with research and analysis committees, and decision-making, he added. And as the public took more interest in DLA’s role, Laskoski worked with DLA Public Affairs to respond to media queries and ensure internal DLA news products incorporated key messages about the agency’s growing response.
Knowing who to call for accurate, up-to-the-minute information was the biggest challenge for Laskoski, who said he joined the task force with what he thought was a better-than-average understanding of MSC roles.
“Having been with the agency for nine years, I thought I had a good handle on what DLA does, but knowing who’s who to gather details on late-breaking developments was a killer for me, especially in the beginning,” he said.
Like Laskoski, many original members of the task force came from other permanent positions throughout DLA and some had to return to regular duties as normal operations resumed and the pandemic continued. Laskoski’s experience and leadership skills, however, led to his assignment as the executive officer for Lee Dvonch, who heads the task force.
Learning more about the agency’s capabilities and interacting with senior leaders like Dvonch and Dave Kless, DLA’s executive director of operations, were rewards well worth the long hours and lost weekends, Laskoski said after returning to his job as a contract specialist with DLA Energy’s Bulk Petroleum Supply Chain Services Branch at the end of October.
“The DLA Joint Reserve Force is such a great asset,” he said. “Service members are trained and ready to help the agency meet its demands during normal operations and emergencies just like this one.”