IT contingency team provides critical support to DLA Distribution San Joaquin

By Annette Silva DLA Distribution

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As a direct result of a cut fiber optic cable in the nearby city of French Camp, all communications at Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin, located in Tracy, Calif., were severed early last week, affecting all networks, landlines and cellular service.

With communications at a stand-still, DLA Distribution San Joaquin was unable to receive materiel release orders through the Distribution Standard System, the organization’s electronic warehousing system, to provide needed supplies to the Warfighter.

To combat the situation, the DLA Information Technology contingency team assembled, bringing data and voice communications back to the Emergency Support Operations Center and command group through the setup of the Mobile Emergency Response Center, or MERC, which uses satellite communications.  The team was able to provide the communications capabilities for DSS access, printing and email.

DLA Distribution San Joaquin’s deputy commander Paul Balash III commented on the organization’s dependency on communications and how outstanding teamwork combated the situation.

"We do not know how dependent we are on communications until nothing works.  When all phone service (land and cellular), Internet access, e-mail, and Department of Defense applications used for distribution operations will not work, people take notice,” said Balash. “Fortunately, our local J6 was able to establish communications links using their deployed satellite communications system and our Emergency Support Operations Center was able to quickly stand up and provide a limited communications capability.  At least we could field calls and respond to high priority requisitions."  

Sebastian Gonzalez, Contingency IT West Branch chief, recalls coming into work the morning after the outage.

“[The J6 IT Contingency team] got into work that morning and realized there was no network available to the installation due to a major fiber cut affecting at least two counties. We knew right away restoration was going to take a while,” said Gonzalez. “I reached out to the J6 Mayor, Beth Palacio, and told her we could provide emergency communications for the essential services at the installation.  Beth told us the highest need was for the command group and the Emergency Supply Operations Center.”

Additionally, since the outage also affected long-distance telephone services and cellular services, the team added Voice over IP phones to the ESOC and for emergent requisitions coming through the system.  The MERC was a success, providing the ESOC team the ability to process 51 expedites that came through DSS, in collaboration with Dale Brown of the Systems Division, who worked from an off-site location to route the expedited materiel release orders to the San Joaquin ESOC team for processing.

Gonzalez concluded that their support made the team feel that they made a difference and were able to support the Warfighter.

According to Palacio, full communications were restored to the installation at approximately 7 a.m. the following morning.  She praised her team for their quick response to this contingency, stating that she appreciated all of the amazing team players that worked together in support of not only the mission but ultimately the Warfighter.  “This was ‘real world,’ not planned, no instructions or exercises involved. This event definitely demonstrated a class act in time of need.”