BY CMDR. LESLEY DONELSON, Chief, Fusion Operation Branch, Navy Customer Facing Division, Customer Operations Directorate, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation
Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Aviation is the aviation demand and supply chain manager for the DLA enterprise, and provides aviation support for more than 21 Navy weapon systems and almost 436,000 Sailors around the globe. Employing more than 3,800 civilian and military personnel in 18 locations across the United States, DLA Aviation supports more than 1,700 weapon systems, and is the U.S. military’s integrated materiel manager for more than 1.2 million national stock number items, industrial retail supply, and depot-level repairable acquisitions. DLA Aviation has six industrial support activities (ISAs), three of which deliver airpower solutions to the Navy fleet readiness centers at Cherry Point, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and San Diego, California. These ISAs are led by Supply Corps commanders who report directly to DLA Aviation. The remaining three ISAs support air logistics complexes in Utah, Oklahoma, and Georgia. In 2018, former Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) James Mattis initiated a dynamic force employment and a mission capable (MC) 80% readiness initiative. Alongside the SECDEF’s initiative, the Navy’s Air Boss, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller III, commander, Naval Air Forces and commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, set a goal to increase Super Hornet readiness from around 270 MC aircraft, on a mostly traditional deployment schedule, to 341 F/A-18 Super Hornets deployable at any given time. This initiative aligned with DLA’s strategy to help rebuild the Navy fleet to meet increased readiness demands, which involved DLA taking an initial financial risk in order to have materiel on hand when it was needed by the Navy.
Initially in 2018, DLA devised three Super Hornet investment strategies totaling approximately $101.4 million, implemented in increments. The strategies included buying stable and high demand parts in support of retail supply and direct order fulfillment; investing in 538 national stock number items focused on low-performing, flight line degraders; indirect investments in industrial support safety stock levels; and additional contractor support at DLA Aviation’s industrial support activities on Navy air stations.
Since initial investments, DLA Aviation has placed logistic support representatives at Naval Air Stations Lemoore, California, and Oceana, Virginia to assist in tracking and acquiring readiness. In addition, DLA Aviation developed a strategic alliance initiative to focus on 1,425 national stock numbers on a Boeing captains of industry contract that will continue to facilitate performance-driven contracts, increasing materiel availability.
Each of the targeted investments in human capital and wholesale inventory levels have contributed to an improved materiel availability year-over-year from 85.29% in January 2018 to 90.2% in June 2019, and reduced backorders from 7,027 to 6,456 during the same time period despite increased order volume across air stations and depot activities.
DLA Aviation continues to support the warfighter at every turn, from the deck plate to flag-level engagement. DLA Aviation is a major stakeholder in the readiness Aircraft on Ground (AOG) cell at Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL), Norfolk, Virginia, that has returned a rolling monthly average of 70 F /A-18 E/F AOG aircraft per month to MC status since its Nov. 13, 2018 inception; with a total aircraft inventory of 552. DLA Aviation is a key AOG member in providing parts for quick-turn maintenance solutions to increase MC rates for shore-based aircraft
“DLA Aviation has performed very well,” said Cmdr. Jeff Brown, CNAL AOG director, assigned to Commander, Fleet Readiness Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, who is working as the CNAL AOG director in Norfolk, Virginia. “DLA Aviation is a key contributor to the AOG cell, providing all its expediting tools to continue to surpass the 300 MC aircraft mark, and to continue to work toward reaching 341 MC aircraft.”
In addition, DLA Aviation is integrally engaged in providing immediate parts support to phased maintenance interval aircraft repair lines. DLA Aviation senior leaders’ engagements are key to the Naval Sustainment System where participation at the boots-onground level is paramount to building relationships and seeing/hearing/ responding to the warfighter’s needs.
Capt. Trey Ryker, chief, Navy Customer Facing Division, Customer Operations Directorate, DLA Aviation, reinforces the impact of senior leadership engagement in the boots-on-the-ground events. “Our DLA Aviation senior leaders, formerly Air Force Brig. Gen. Linda Hurry, currently Air Force Brig. Gen. David Sanford, DLA Aviation commander and Charlie Lilli, DLA Aviation deputy commander, are heavily involved in all Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) meetings and processes. They attend all NAE boots-on-ground events led by the Navy’s Air Boss, Commander Naval Air Systems Command, and the Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Headquarters Marine Corps, to afford themselves the opportunity to see first-hand how maintenance and supply activities have incorporated better business practices to improve readiness and to elevate performance to plan barriers to solve readiness challenges.”
DLA Aviation has demonstrated its commitment to the Navy by achieving its key milestone of reaching 90% materiel availability. Supply chain integration is a team sport, and DLA Aviation is a key contributor to the Navy’s endeavors to achieve the SECDEF’s MC80 and Navy’s Air Boss’ 341 MC aircraft initiative.