San Diego Fly-Away Logistics Team Demonstrates Ability to Surge, Support During Crisis

BY CANDICE VILLARREAL, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS
NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER SAN DIEGO

NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego put its innovative new Enterprise Logistics Response Team (ELRT) to the test during an offsite field training exercise in El Centro, California, July 21, 2016.

NAVSUP FLC San Diego put its innovative new ELRT to the test during an offsite field training exercise in El Centro, California, July 21, 2016.

NAVSUP FLC San Diego put its innovative new ELRT to the test during an offsite field training exercise in El Centro, California, July 21, 2016.

The ELRT is a 15-person team comprised of supply rating/NOS Sailors in pay grades ranging from E-4 to E-6, formed to surge and augment other NAVSUP FLCs in times of crisis or emergency. Known locally as the command’s elite logistics “fly–away team,” they are hand–picked, “trained–to–the–teeth” top performers who are qualified and willing to hit the tarmac at a moment’s notice to provide the kind of logistics support our Navy needs, when it needs it.

“When a disaster or other emergency situation occurs, the team knows they must be ready to deploy within 48 hours,” said Chief Petty Officer Blanca Sanchez.

“Once on station, like we simulated at El Centro, they will be able to take over for the NAVSUP FLC they’re supporting to allow them to move into the field and operate. It’s all about continuity of operations and making sure our logistics capabilities are on point, no matter what the situation at hand happens to be.”

The training exercise, labeled “Go–Crawl” by command leadership, deployed the ELRT to Naval Air Facility El Centro to demonstrate its surge capability in the field. The team opened the exercise with an on-location muster and a gear check before flexing the full array of logistics functions and utilizing information technology systems and communications links to demonstrate full functionality and connectivity.

“Go–Crawl was a drill to showcase all the skills this team has compiled in the last few months,” said Lt. Shawn Grogan, distance support division officer. “They set up their workstations, logged into their websites and databases, established connectivity, simulated drills, and got to work performing the functions that will be required of them. The goal was to get them deployable at any given moment to support anything from humanitarian assistance and disaster response to other types of contingencies, and they performed as we’d hoped they would.”

The ELRT’s arrival during a real-life scenario will ensure warehousing, hazardous materials, port visit service support, aviation supply, postal, and other lifeblood logistics operations continue as necessary when it matters most.

“Personally, I’m very proud of what this team has accomplished,” said Sanchez. “This isn’t their typical day–to–day job; it’s something they do on top of that. It takes a lot of effort and motivation to be a part of this team, and I believe this training and experience will put them on the fast-track to propel their careers.”

Grogan agreed, adding the level of training and skillsets obtained by ELRT members mirrors much of what would be expected by a chief or senior chief petty officer elsewhere in the Fleet.

“We are taking a group of carefully chosen top performers and equipping them with some advanced training that takes them above and beyond their normal logistics specialist competencies,” said Grogan.

“They’re developing skillsets that other seasoned Sailors may collect throughout an entire career, and they’re getting it all at once and being tested on their execution.”

The ELRT Sailors are required to complete dozens of training and qualification requirements including Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training, general purchase card training, material handling equipment qualifications and international driver’s licenses. Additionally, the Sailors are required to maintain up–to–date pre-deployment medical, dental, and family care plans, passports, meet clearance requirements, and train and qualify on various logistics and transportation systems in addition to other training requirements.

“Now trained and qualified, we wanted to begin exercises to ‘operationalize’ the team and force the Sailors to gear-up and travel over–the–horizon,” said NAVSUP FLC San Diego Commanding Officer Capt. John Palmer. “We put them on location and asked them to demonstrate their skills and abilities in responding the way they were trained. It was a valuable exercise, and we drew some key lessons from this first execution.”

According to Palmer, the training will continue far beyond the initial Go–Crawl exercise.

“We intend to follow-up the Go–Crawl experience with other offsite exercises that will be progressively more difficult as the team continues to hone their skills,” said Palmer. “Our end state – a trained, qualified, and experienced LRT prepared to deploy and deliver combat logistics anytime, anywhere.”

November/December 2016