Defense Logistics Agency Center Aids Sandy Relief Efforts
By Jacob Boyer
Defense Logistics Agency
FORT BELVOIR, Va., Nov. 15, 2012 As Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast more than two weeks ago, Defense Logistics Agency team members in the Joint Logistics Operations Center increased the intensity of their work.
Sailors start a pump to remove water from a flooded basement in Queens, N.Y., Nov. 6, 2012. The Defense Logistics Agency has contracted for more than 100 pumps to assist in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Martin Cuaron
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The JLOC is DLA’s focal point for gathering and analyzing information involving the agency’s operations from within and outside of the agency, said Army Col. Roger McCreery, JLOC chief. The center typically runs in two eight-hour shifts, with a full staff ready to respond to requests between 4 a.m. and 8 p.m. and a staff duty officer able to respond between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.
As the storm approached the Northeast, the JLOC added a third shift and went to 24-hour operations. McCreery explained the JLOC has a “graduated response plan” in place to immediately add personnel and a third shift when needed.
“Even before the storm hit, we increased to a third shift,” McCreery said. “That way we had 24-hour ops coverage, which mirrors some of the other operations centers involved in the storm relief: the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Northern Command.”
The extra personnel came from other entities within DLA Headquarters, including civilians, active-duty service members and reservists, said Buzz Hackett, the JLOC’s deputy chief. Other personnel took on roles as liaison officers with critical partners in the relief effort.
“No two disasters or hazards are the same,” Hackett said. “In this case, what we found ourselves doing was providing support to FEMA and the Corps of Engineers. … We sent many more LNOs to work with state governments. We hadn’t necessarily done that in the past. We sent many more LNOs to embed with governments and agencies, whereas in the past we didn’t expand that LNO network to this degree.”
As of Nov. 13, the JLOC had helped to coordinate the delivery of more than 6.2 million meals, 48 pallets of bottled water, 7.8 million gallons of fuel, 107 water pumps, 51 generators, 500 sets of cold-weather clothing, 172,000 blankets, 4,000 cots, 200 hypothermia-prevention kits and six portable X-ray machines to affected areas.
Contracting for generators to ease the burden of power outages and pumps to aid in drying out soaked buildings and infrastructure were two challenges unique to this storm, Hackett said. The agency positioned generators and high-capacity pumps at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., to augment and support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in meeting those needs. The agency has also helped USACE in contracting out the removal of more than 30 million pounds of trash and debris.
In addition to the liaison officers who went to work with other organizations, FEMA and USACE sent LNOs to work in the JLOC to better facilitate communications, Hackett said. “Our LNOs and the LNOs who have come to us have been key in keeping lines of communication open between the organizations,” he added.
McCreery said communication is critical in contingency operations like this relief effort.
“Being able to communicate critical information to make decisions and influence what’s going is critical. The JLOC plays an important role in that communication,” he said.
Those LNOs allow JLOC staff to collect a variety of information so they can present needs to leaders at DLA Headquarters and the agency’s primary-level field activities, McCreery said. As requests for support come in, FEMA communicates these requirements to the agency through the JLOC.
“We collect that information, and present it to the leadership so they have a common operational picture and good situational awareness of what’s going on,” McCreery said. “It allows them to make decisions to leverage capabilities. It also allows them to give the nation’s civilian leaders an idea of what DLA is doing and what it is capable of doing.”
FEMA’s requests, coupled with DLA’s ability to deliver supplies and USACE’s engineering expertise, led to apartment buildings getting power back in the Breezy Point neighborhood in Queens, N.Y., a borough where power outages still remain a challenge.
“The request mechanism is quite defined: FEMA is national lead, and it’s their responsibility,” he said. “We’re all elements supporting them. A request may be generated by the New York City Housing Authority: ‘We need help with generator support at Apartment Building X.’ The Corps of Engineers looks at their capabilities, and DLA has positioned capabilities to augment them. It gets sorted out and vetted by FEMA at the state and national levels.”
Despite the ramped up support to Sandy relief efforts, the JLOC has continued to focus on supporting warfighters worldwide, specifically in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, McCreery said.
“The agency continues to ensure and the JLOC monitors delivery of more than 60 million gallons of fuel to warfighters in Afghanistan and elsewhere and maintained a food supply large enough to keep troops fed for more than two months,” he said.
“Neither the JLOC or the agency’s PLFAs have skipped a beat,” McCreery added. “The support over in Afghanistan is steady state. Any issues that arise are dealt with, and things are going very, very smoothly. The ability to provide support like we have for this contingency while maintaining support in Afghanistan is pretty phenomenal.”
Hackett said supported organizations and infrastructure available are different for operations in Afghanistan and missions such as Sandy relief efforts.
“What ends up being different is [that] overseas we work mainly with the Defense Department and sometimes the U.S. Agency for International Development,” he said. “In this case, with Northcom being the lead military commander and FEMA having the mission lead, those are the entities we’re working with and embedding ourselves within. Also, in the United States, the industry and supply base to support our supply chains is so much more robust.”
In addition to LNOs working to expedite relief efforts throughout the region, several of the agency’s senior leaders have spent time in the affected areas to help coordinate operations and build relationships between organizations. DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek was in New Jersey on such a trip Nov. 13. And Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dowd, DLA’s director of logistics operations, has made two trips to impacted areas in New Jersey and New York. Hackett said visits such as these have helped strengthen ties throughout the agencies involved in the relief effort.
“The visits our senior leaders have made have paid big dividends,” he said.
McCreery said the overall team effort from throughout DLA has been phenomenal.
“The capability of this organization is enormous,” he said. “Being able to tap into that takes a very concerted effort and a team to do that. The agency’s support has been tremendous. The feedback folks are getting on the ground is positive on how DLA has leaned forward and assisted in this relief effort.”