BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
“We are going to need a mission critical statement highlighting the 5Ws that support your unit’s urgency and the need to deviate from established policy.”
Those instructions were provided Oct. 1 by Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services Kaiserslautern Operations Chief Russ Sittenauer. He was responding to military logisticians representing U.S. Army Europe and its rotational Special Forces soldiers working to train friendly troops in Eastern Europe.
A U.S. military task force charged with helping prepare foreign armies in the Baltics with the skills and knowhow to repel invasion was all set to provide “live tissue” field triage medical training when they realized they had deployed without the role player and mannequin uniforms necessary for the cutting and tearing that Green Berets would need to demonstrate with during realistic treatment of battlefield injuries.
Within days of that urgent request for surplus uniforms, DLA’s property disposal specialists in Germany and its Reutilization, Transfer and Donation office in Battle Creek, Michigan, had identified and provided about 60 uniform sets that were rushed to the field for the multinational event.
“Our battalion surgeon and lead medics said the uniforms your DLA facility issued us are being used for medial trauma scenarios,” wrote Army Capt. Flora Edelbrock, a U.S. Special Operations Command logistics officer. “The uniforms are part of ‘moulage,’ where the teams fabricate real world injuries with fake blood, rubber cuts, and bone fragments. The uniforms are being worn by role players and mannequins while our medics have to identify and treat combat trauma in a lifelike scenario. Many of the uniforms are also being cut up to treat the patients, build tourniquets and improvised liters, etc.”
DLA’s customer service on the last-minute request was “great,” Edelbrock said. Her command gave kudos to the quick and supportive reaction of the agency’s property disposal team there and shared that “we used the DLA-issued property to support critical medical training, which significantly improved U.S. and partner force readiness for theater contingency operations.”
The Baltic states generally refers to a trio of Eastern European countries bordering the Baltic Sea that gained independence following the first World War. They include Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, who each joined both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004. In 2021, a full U.S. Army battalion rotated into Lithuania to focus on partner nation training there, and the Lithuanian government opened a new military training ground named Herkus to accommodate NATO training events and facilitate the deployments of partner nations like the U.S.
To support the reverse logistics needs of U.S. warfighters abroad, a dozen DLA Disposition Services locations are spread among countries throughout Europe and Africa, where the agency’s property disposal specialists and environmental protection experts handle the turn in and potential reuse or recycling of equipment, hazardous material, and items that require full demilitarization or mutilation.