Logistics is often only thought of as acquisition of needed supplies, such as fuel, food, and medical supplies. However, logistics is more than procurement, and today’s deployed warfighters understand this better than most.
When military equipment is damaged, unserviceable or outdated, the mission may suffer. This equipment may need replacing with newer or improved items, but the older equipment must also be disposed of appropriately. Military units can’t afford the time and labor required to dispose of older items in addition to the acquisition of needed items. This is where a unique group of reservists step in to provide all aspects of logistics.
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YN2 Arnulfo Obando, a Navy Reserve Sailor, also deployed to Afghanistan as a DLA Expeditionary Disposition and Remediation Team member.
“One of my duties was to ensure that military property with offensive and defense capabilities wasn’t sold or released to the local market as it could be used against our warfighters in Afghanistan,” explained LS3 Class Tesfaye Fekade.
Deployed to Afghanistan last year, he was a member of a Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Expeditionary Disposition and Remediation Team (EDRT). This team coordinates and assists in the process of clearing the battle space of more than 40 forward operating bases (FOB) throughout Afghanistan. This includes the segregation and disposal of unserviceable property.
LS3 Fekade joined the Navy Reserve in 2009, and chose logistics in hopes to expand his knowledge of accounting. “I like accounting and thought the logistics specialty was even more accounting,” he said. “But I found out Navy logistics is comprehensive, and encompasses different tasks such as supply, store keeping, record keeping, accounting and other related tasks.” Scratching his itch for numbers, LS3 Fekade helped appropriately dispose of more than a half million pounds of property while deployed for DLA Disposition Services.
“While at a FOB, I was responsible for the segregation of military property and selecting proper manners of disposal,” said YN2 Arnulfo Obando, a Navy Reserve Sailor who also deployed to Afghanistan as a DLA EDRT member. “I was responsible for the sale and removal of scrap from the FOBs. The segregation of scrap yielded in many instances property that could be reused by other units that were in need of a certain piece of equipment.
“Rather than waiting for the equipment to arrive from the States the unit could obtain it from Disposition Services,” he added. “Also, the sale of scrap to local contractors allowed the recoupment of monies, which is a benefit for the taxpayer.”
EDRT members also gain experience from all branches on property reutilization, demilitarization and disposition of sensitive military property. This training is crucial for preventing the enemy from gaining equipment that may be used against U.S. forces. “My duties of identifying and disposing of military property properly prevented the Taliban from using it against the warfighter,” YN2 Obando said.
Additionally, providing DLA training provides Sailors like LS3 Fekade and YN2 Obando a unique, joint experience.
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LS3 Tesfaye Fekade served one year in Afghanistan as a member of a DLA Expeditionary Disposition and Remediation Team
“The advantage for a young Sailor to work at DLA is having the opportunity to work with very smart and talented individuals in the Navy, as well as the other branches,” YN2 Obando explained. “One also learns the true meaning of teamwork, because although each branch has a different way of doing things, the task gets done smoothly. Being in a joint environment has allowed me to learn about the other branches as well as gain the reward of teaching them about the Navy.”
“I had the privilege to have an Army major as my commander; to wear the Army combat uniforms, and multi-camos, and still be a Sailor, while being able to remind the Army about the Navy's 11-year winning streak in football,” he added.
As members of the Defense Logistics Agency Joint Reserve Force, reservists from all branches are stationed throughout the U.S. and across the globe to assist with all aspects of logistics. In addition to Disposition Services, reservists serve on DLA Support Teams (DST), which serve as downrange, one-stop shops for all aspects of DLA's mission.
“Deploying for DLA allowed me to see logistics from a worldwide, operational perspective,” explained Ens. Rachel Woodall, a former Logistics Specialist who was recently commissioned through the Director Commissioning Officer Program. Serving as the leading petty officer for the DST in Kuwait for six months last year, she provided administrative support. “I was able to see how other services operate as I completed admin needs for DLA personnel,” added. Motivated by this role in DLA, LS2 Woodall not only re-enlisted on a helicopter while deployed, but will soon serve as a Navy Reserve Supply Corps officer following her commissioning ceremony this past October.
While serving on a DST in Afghanistan from October 2012 to April of this year, Navy Cmdr. William May gained experience that resulted in his selection as the Military Logistician of the Year, receiving the 2012 Admiral Stan Arthur Award for Logistics Excellence. “The experience changed my life,” he said. “DLA is tasked with supplying items for one of the world’s largest militaries.”
There is no civilian corporation or company like DLA. Last year alone, DLA achieved more than $40 billion in sales and revenue as it supplied the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and multiple federal agencies with the supplies needed to maintain peace and stability worldwide. Nearly 100 percent of the military’s consumable items and more than 80 percent of the military’s spare parts are supplied by DLA.
“Since 9/11, more than 1,045 reservists from DLA have activated for 1,340 tours of duty,” said Rear Adm. Ron MacLaren, DLA Joint Reserve Force director. “Now, that may not seem like a large number at first, but when you consider only 752 of DLA’s nearly 27,000 employees are reservists, this is quite an accomplishment for the Joint Reserve Force. It fluctuates, but at least 50 percent and as high as 80 percent of deployed DLA members are reservists.” Of the 752 reservists, more than 400 are Supply Corps officers and Sailors.
However, DLA supports more than just the Warfighter.
“Our number one priority is to train and maintain a deployment-ready force,” said DLA Joint Reserve Force (JRF) Deputy Director, Robert McCullough. “JRF members are stationed and deployed around the world in support of DLA’s mission. This mission extends beyond warfighter support though. We must stand ready to respond to anything that might occur around the globe. Situations like the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in Haiti can occur at any moment, and DLA must be ready to support the needed response.”
McCullough knows the importance of readiness all too well. As a Logistics Specialist Master Chief, he deployed for DLA both in and out of uniform, to include warfighter support in Iraq and Afghanistan, and humanitarian support in Haiti. Most recently, several Sailors in the DLA JRF activated in support of Hurricane Sandy. This included everything from aiding in the supply of fuel to the delivery of humanitarian supplies.
In addition to training plans tailored to each of its members, the JRF conducts an annual joint training event. The objective of this event is to enhance Total Force readiness, and simultaneously complete DLA and service-required training while also promoting teamwork. For the past seven years, Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines and from throughout DLA converged on the training grounds at Fort Eustis, Va., where they completed theater-specific training to include a leadership reaction course, weapon familiarization and firing for M-4 and M-9 qualifications, improvised explosive device identification and reaction and joint physical training.
More specific DLA-centered training was also completed, which included forklift training, a hazardous material course, demilitarization training, and a Joint Operation Planning & Execution Systems course for more senior leaders.
The effectiveness of the Joint Reserve Force’s dedication to deployment readiness and mobilizations plays a major role in DLA’s mission success, and its ability to support the Warfighter around the world.
“DLA supports all branches of the military,” LS3 Fekade said. “Working for DLA exposed me to the different services. I like it here … working jointly with other services makes for a great learning environment.”
The DLA Joint Reserve Force is always looking for dedicated and motivate Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. To learn more about the JRF, visit www.dla.mil/jointreserveforce
By Maj. Bryan Lewis, U.S. Air Force
Defense Logistics Agency