Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan –
When it comes to supporting the warfighter across the Combined Joint Operations Area–Afghanistan, no organization does it better than the Defense Logistics Agency Support Team.
The DLA Support Team–Afghanistan is the primary touchpoint for a DLA enterprise that provides a myriad of services to the warfighter, from meeting the basic subsistence needs of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians assigned across the CJOA, to ensuring that the fuel needed to operate all types of vehicles gets from storage facilities to the local fueling stations.
Navy Capt. Wallace "Rope" Burns, who commands a diverse team composed of 17 military, 30 Department of Defense civilians and 500 contractors, said DLA provides Class I (bulk food) subsistence in support of 13 dining facilities spread across the CJOA-A. Most of the food is flown into the country from Kuwait or Dubai to Bagram Air Field, then trucked to the Anham storage and distribution center, a sprawling, multifaceted, four-football field-sized warehouse facility three kilometers from Bagram.
“That’s where all the food we use is stored. … It serves as the main distribution and processing center for most of the food the coalition forces consume,” Burns said. "The DFACs decide on the menus they’ll serve, order the food from Anham, and once it’s packaged, it’s delivered to the DFAC for food preparation and service."
The Army doesn’t own or pay for the food until it’s ordered and delivered to a DFAC. The contract between DLA and Anham requires that Anham keep sufficient days of supply to meet the expected needs of the DFACs, he said.
Most of the fruits and vegetables are prepared for distribution by local nationals at the Anham facility.
Certain meats and other items are pre-cooked so DFACs only have to do minor preparation to get the food ready for service to its customers. Most of the fruits and vegetables served — from apples to asparagus — are locally grown by Afghan farmers, Burns explained.
In addition to providing the food warfighters consume, DLA is also responsible for supplying much of the Class IIIB bulk fuel for use in all types of vehicles and aircraft. DLA, through its contractors Red Star and National Fuels, provides fuel to nearly 100 metered locations, he said. “[We’re] only involved in fuel distribution for the north, east and capital regions of the country. The other areas are run by NATO.”
In support of Resolute Support’s Retrograde and Materiel Reduction operations, DLA Support Team-Afghanistan’s Disposition Services serve as the focal point for demilitarizing materiel and equipment and decides whether or not a piece of equipment should be cut up or destroyed, or can be sold to the Afghan population. The largest DLA Disposition Services site is at Bagram Airfield, with a second location of equal capability at Kandahar Airfield, Burns said.
“For non-armored vehicles that will still run, DLA will sell them,” he said. “[We] can’t sell armored vehicles because we don’t want them to end up back on the battlefield. So we have to cut the entire thing up and destroy it.”
Organizations bring in equipment and turn it over via a hand receipt so it can be removed from their property book accounts. For those items that can be sold, they’re prepared for what’s commonly called a "white goods sale," held every three or four weeks, and money generated from the sale of items like vehicles, generators, containerized housing units, and refrigerators, is returned to the U.S. Treasury.
Generators are high-value items to the local population because there are still many areas of the country that don’t have access to electrical power, he explained.
The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces also has a program for warfighters to turn in their battle-damaged Humvees. DLA Support Team–Afghanistan will take them and, working with the U.S. Army 518th Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, demilitarize them by ensuring all ammunition and sensitive items are removed — and only then, once the vehicle is demilitarized, will the U.S. issue a new one. This process started in January 2015 and has proven to be value-added by ensuring the Afghan Army maintains a serviceable fleet of vehicles to execute its mission, Burns said.
Although DLA Support Team–Afghanistan serves as the operational control and primary customer touchpoint for the warfighters in Afghanistan, Burns said, it relies heavily on a worldwide DLA enterprise, comprising six primary-level field activities, one strategic-materials unit, three business-services units and three regional DLA commands.