News | Nov. 16, 2015

Crisis exercise tests DLA, Air Force employees in rapid deployment

By Air Force Col. Michelle L. Hall, DLA Logistics Operations

Defense Logistics Agency employees recently joined personnel from the Air Force and U.S. Transportation Command to test their rapid-deployment skills, as well as the system used to deploy logistics personnel to crises around the world.

Staff from several DLA divisions traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi, for the “Turbo Distribution” exercise in late October. The event, which tested the agency’s still-developing Rapid Deployment Initiative, is the first time DLA has joined a TRANSCOM Joint Task Force–Port Opening team. Participants slept on cots in a gymnasium and ate two meals, ready to eat, per day.

The mission of the JTF-PO—which includes logistics personnel from various Air Force and TRANSCOM elements—is to open and establish an airport or sea port, as the Task Force did in the recent Ebola crisis.

DLA has been working to create a DLA Assessment Team, which could deploy alongside JTF-PO with just 12 hours’ notice.  On the ground, the DAT would assess what DLA needs to support the joint forces commander and others.

“The whole reason we bring DLA in on the JTF-PO mission is so they can get ahead of the timing on a real-world situation,” said Air Force Col. Leslie Maher, the 321st Contingency Response Group commander.  “They get in earlier, and they can help us quicker,” said Maher, who acted as the JTF-PO commander for Turbo Distribution.

The DAT for the exercise included staff from DLA Distribution, DLA’s Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office, DLA Energy and DLA Information Operations, as well as two exercise observer-controllers from the DLA Headquarters Joint Logistics Operations Center. Objectives included assembling and deploying the DAT in support of JTF-PO, as well as the communication systems that support the DAT.

“The [exercise planners] did a fantastic job planning and executing the exercise; it was one of the best that I’ve participated in in 30 years,” said Eugene Summers of DLA Distribution. “Another highlight for me was observing the other DLA members and learning how they perform their portion of the DLA mission.”

The exercise allowed DLA and JTF-PO personnel to train one another. DLA Energy employee Andre Hinson and DLA JCASO employee Craig Hill trained Task Force personnel on contracting and fuel requisition. Hill and Summers conducted site assessments for potential theater consolidation and shipping points, a forward fuel point and an alternate air field. And they advised Rapid Port Opening Element personnel on site-preparation requirements for DLA Distribution Expeditionary to be deployed.

The JTF-PO commander repeatedly thanked the team members and singled out Hinson for recognition as an outstanding performer, awarding him a coin from the exercise JTF commander. Hank Morrow, a DLA Information Operations employee, was also given a coin by the visiting Mississippi Air National Guard chief of staff.

Agency personnel interested in broadening their professional horizons, sharing their expertise and building relationships across the joint logistics environment will have the opportunity to volunteer for future DLA Support Team/Assessment Team positions.