News | July 9, 2021

DLA Distribution expands knowledge and training with DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise

By Matthew Mahoney, DLA Distribtution Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Distribution played an integral role in the DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise, testing the capabilities of the distribution network to support the warfighter flexibly and sustainably on an emergent basis.

“We were able to conduct the entire exercise with minimal impact to our ongoing operations,” said Eric Cady, chief of transportation. DLA Distribution maintains a constant level of readiness but must also be able to adjust to any rapid changes in the needs of the warfighter.

DEFENDER-Europe 21 is an annual large scale U.S. Army led, multinational, joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between U.S., NATO and partner militaries.

DLA Distribution expands knowledge and training with DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise
Cargo originating from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, arrives via airlift to DLA Distribution Sigonella, Italy. Enhancements to communication and coordination made the receipt and issue of material more efficient than in the past. (Submitted photo.)
DLA Distribution expands knowledge and training with DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise
DLA Distribution expands knowledge and training with DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise
Cargo originating from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, arrives via airlift to DLA Distribution Sigonella, Italy. Enhancements to communication and coordination made the receipt and issue of material more efficient than in the past. (Submitted photo.)
Photo By: DLA Distribution Public Affairs
VIRIN: 210607-D-D0441-4459

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the sustainment aspect of the exercise was limited to an emphasis on small unit support.

“That exercise constraint made our objective of strategic sourcing and routing of material difficult, simply due to a lack of volume,” said Michelle McClure, DLA Distribution exercise planner.

DLA Distribution participated primarily through movement of material and the opening of virtual shipping lanes. These delivery and shipping points were created and opened as a proof of concept that it could be done to expand the capabilities of DLA Distribution.

DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, was the primary shipping point for the exercise and utilized new methods of tracking and communication that allowed DDSP and DLA Distribution to always keep the end customer aware of the status of incoming material, allowing the end recipients to be ready and prepared for the arrival of material.

“Coordination between DLA Distribution headquarters and distribution centers proved invaluable as the teams remained extremely flexible and responsive to frequent changes,” said McClure.

The exercise also provided DLA Distribution a valuable learning experience in working with U.S. Air Force partners in the airlift of cargo. The lessons learned about how they route cargo will ensure future shipments don’t see any delays in getting to the warfighter.

DLA Distribution Sigonella, Italy, was simultaneously involved in the exercise as well as distribution of COVID-19 vaccines – and performed both functions flawlessly.
“The greatest satisfaction is for a customer to not realize anything had changed,” said McClure.