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DLA: logistics backbone of Iraqi Freedom.

The impressive U.S. performance in Operation Iraqi Freedom demonstrated the success of many of the changes underway throughout the Department of Defense (DOD). Among the DOD elements that showcased their growing capabilities in the war was the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which is now DOD's largest combat support agency. As Major General Hawthorne J. Proctor, DLA's Director of Operations, commented, "If a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine eats it, wears it, fights with it, maintains their equipment with it, or in some manner burns it for fuel, DLA likely provided it." DLA's central role in logistics was amply exhibited in Iraqi Freedom.

By the end of April, DLA had processed nearly $61 million in requisitions; supplied about $3 billion in food, clothing, medical supplies, fuel, and spare parts; shipped nearly 30 million individual menu bags of meals, ready to eat (MREs); and provided more than 300 million gallons of fuel.

Iraqi Freedom also allowed DLA to display some recent innovations, including new business practices, greater logistician involvement in planning, technology for inventory tracking, and onsite battlefield coordination.

New Business Practices

The entire logistics and supply chain process has changed dramatically since the last Gulf war. Inventory management is not conducted like it was even a few years ago. Instead of managing large service and wholesale inventories, DLA now manages suppliers. Many of the warfighter's supplies now are shipped directly from manufacturers, distributors, and strategic suppliers.

According to Air Force Colonel Leonard Petrucelli, the chief of DLA Contingency Plans and Operations--
 We've gotten out of the business of warehousing
 huge mountains of inventories, but we still manage
 small hills of critical and high-demand items.
 We ensure the supplies are delivered straight to
 where the customer wants them, whether that's an

 office in Virginia, a pier in Kuwait, or an airfield
 inside Iraq.

Advanced Logistics Planning

Involving logisticians in the earliest planning also has contributed to the success of Iraqi Freedom. "What also helps us in this campaign is that we are now working hand in glove with the combat commanders and their planners to get out in front of the requirements, and that has been very beneficial because we have been in on the process early," Petrucelli noted. "That makes it easier to anticipate needs, and that is what you have to do to support a campaign like this."

In 1999 and 2000, DLA embedded liaison officers at each combatant command, such as the U.S. Central Command, and the Joint Staff. These liaison officers have been "instrumental in driving good logistics discipline and preparation by integrating DLA's core capabilities into the deliberate and crisis planning process early," observed Petrucelli. "You need to anticipate the logistics by working hard in the early planning stages. Working this closely with the combat commanders improves communications and puts everyone in a better position to plan and sustain requirements."

DLA has worked with the combatant commanders and planners to establish sustainment packages that focus on certain high interest items, such as force-protection barrier material and concertina wire. DLA sent those packages by surface transportation so they would arrive before the beginning of the Iraqi campaign, thus reducing the need for strategic airlift.

"Units normally deploy with their unit equipment and a specific number of days of supplies in their basic loads," said Petrucelli. "Once in theater, they begin requisitioning their follow-on sustainment requirements. In this situation, we simultaneously supported the unit's basic loads, their initial days of supplies as they departed the continental United States, and their sustainment needs. DLA's direct combat service support is projected to be $7 billion higher in 2003 from all these key logistics transactions."

Throughout the advanced planning process, DLA identified sustainment requirements for the numbers and types of military forces allocated in the war plans. DLA encouraged the armed services to submit their requirements early to ensure that all needs were met.

For Operation Iraqi Freedom, distance was the biggest challenge that DLA had to overcome. Contingency support for troops must begin before the conflict, which means demands for clothing, medicines, food, fuel, and construction materials will begin before the troops deploy. Once the conflict begins, large quantities will be needed to sustain the thousands of troops in theater. Typically, a supply pipeline is built.

According to Petrucelli--
 You really have to look at [the supply pipeline]
 as a pipe with a constant flow of water. You want
 to control the flow so you don't overwhelm the
 ports or create an unnecessary need for air shipment.
 Logistics is often framed as both an art and
 a science. But joint logistics is definitely an art
 when you're dealing with services' idiosyncrasies
 such as feeding plans, fuel consumption, and water
 requirements. You don't want all 100 days
 worth of food, fuel, and medicines there because
 you don't want all your eggs in one basket, to have
 supplies in the wrong place, or burden the services
 with managing the additional movement and storage
 needs. You want to synchronize the flow to
 sustain a steady state of production ...

Improved Visibility Through Technology

DLA places radio frequency identification tags on containers to track them in transit and make them easier to find. The visibility provided by the tags allows DLA to meet changing requirements by shifting containers to where they are really needed. Improved visibility "has been very helpful," said Petrucelli. "It makes it easy for the customer and the deployed DLA contingency support teams in the area of operations to track their property and anticipate delivery. That cuts down on reorders."

Onsite Battlefield Coordination

Another great tool used in Operation Iraqi Freedom is the DLA contingency support team (DCST). A DCST is a total force package of active duty and Reserve component military personnel and civilians assigned to DLA from all of the services. DCSTs deploy to the theater of operations and work closely with the logistics planners there. They are the main logistics cell in theater, deployed to help expedite sustainment requirements. In April, DLA had more than 70 people in the Iraqi theater of operations, about 30 percent of whom were Army personnel.

In Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the DCSTs gave the U.S. Central Command the logistics information it needed for decisionmaking. The teams provided information on the products and services available from DLA, which the services could use to make ordering decisions to support changing operations. The DCSTs also helped track property when it arrived in theater.

As the fighting winds down, DLA's support mission in Iraq has not ended. In addition to providing full-service logistics; 100 percent of fuel, protective clothing, and medical supplies; and nearly all of the construction material critical to force protection, DLA also is performing a critical role in humanitarian assistance to Iraqi citizens.

DLA procures and stores humanitarian daily rations (HDRs) for the Department of State and ships them to the region as required. In March, DLA already had delivered to the region over 2.4 million HDRs--enough food to feed the entire population of St. Paul, Minnesota, 3 meals a day for 8 days. One HDR is designed to feed one refugee for an entire day. HDRs are used to feed refugees until they reach a refugee camp.

DLA will continue to support humanitarian relief until nongovernmental aid can assume the mission. DLA also has gained responsibility for cleaning up the battlefields, including removing equipment, debris, and hazardous materials. And, as the supplier of 90 percent of DOD's replacement parts, DLA will see a surge in requisitions as vehicles and weapon systems are returned to home stations in need of long-deferred routine maintenance. The combat may be over, but DLA continues to support.

Major Susan Declercq Brown, USAFR, is the individual mobilization augmentee to the Director of Public Affairs at the Defense Logistics Agency. She has an M.A. degree in communication and is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College.

Phyllis Rhodes is an employee of Booz, Allen, Hamilton working at the Defense Logistics Agency Public Affairs Office. She has a bachelor's degree in telecommunications.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Defense Logistics Agency
Author:Brown, Susan Declercq; Rhodes, Phyllis
Publication:Army Logistician
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Jul 1, 2003
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