News | Sept. 20, 2021

COOP: Not just an annual training requirement

By Maurice Sanabria, continuity of operations program manager, DLA Aviation

Every year, thousands of Defense Logistics Agency employees access their Learning Management System account and complete the mandatory Continuity of Operations Employee Awareness Training course. To some COOP training is just another annual training requirement, but COOP is much more. COOP is essential to readiness. 

COOP enables DLA to support and achieve its core mission, vision, values, goals and objectives. COOP enables business resiliency. It allows us to continue serving our customers during and after a crisis or catastrophic event.

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example that we are not immune to disruptions caused by natural or man-made threats. It is a reminder that we must have plans, equipment, technology and systems in place that allow us to continue to support warfighters and our other customers during times of crisis. DLA’s investment in information technology has allowed us to execute the DLA mission remotely. Laptops, phones and video/audio meeting applications have enabled virtual work and teams to stay connected. Teleworking has proved to be a crucial continuity of operations capability. 

The pandemic reminds us of the changing nature of risks and threats. Risks and threats may become real events, incidents or disruptions that trigger activation of continuity of operations measures. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of the top risks and threats tracked and addressed by organizations. 

The Business Continuity Institute Horizon Scan Report is an annual study that tracks near-term risks and threats as reported by business continuity and resilience professionals. Non-occupational disease, such as COVID-19, ranked second to last on the 2019 BCI Horizon Scan risk and threat index. Non-occupational disease is now at the top of their 2021 risk and threat index. IT and telecommunication outages increased because of increased use during virtual work and the rapid implementation of new tools to support business needs. The 2021 scan also identifies supply chain disruptions as a growing risk and threat to organizations.

Below is a list of the top 10 risks and threats expected within the next 12 months from the BCI Horizon Scan Report:

-Non-occupational disease (e.g., pandemic)
-Extreme weather events
-Natural disasters
-Cyber-attacks/data breach
-IT and telecom outages
-Regulatory changes
-Critical infrastructure failure
-Supply chain disruption
-Health incident (stress/mental health/occupational disease)
-Lack of talent/key skills

These risks and threats can trigger events, incidents or disruptions that cause loss of productivity, increase customer complaints, increase operational costs, impair service outcomes, damage organizational reputation or image, affect revenue and most importantly decrease warfighter readiness. It is important that DLA organizations at all levels consider, manage and mitigate these risks through COOP planning and execution.

Warfighter readiness depends on our ability to deliver the right solution, on time, every time. COOP enables DLA to deliver the right solution to our customers. It builds supply chain resilience and delivers readiness. Keep this in mind the next time you take your annual COOP course.