News: DLA, USTRANSCOM officials discuss improving warfighter support
Story by Monique Randolph
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Senior officials from the Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Transportation Command and the General Services Administration discussed efforts to strengthen partnerships and improve warfighter support during a meeting at the McNamara Headquarters Complex May 21.
The meeting was the third iteration of USTRANSCOM/DLA Day since 2009, said Air Force Col. Emily Buckman, division chief for combatant command support in DLA Logistics Operations. Many in attendance were also at DLA’s Distribution Process Owner Executive Board meeting in February.
“The last time we were together, we made some big decisions, and through our great partnership, I’m looking forward to doing more here today,” DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek said.
The admiral addressed the agency’s efforts to reduce its operating costs.
“Like all of the Defense Department, DLA is at a crossroads,” he said. “We’re pretty much out of Iraq, and we’re mindful of our role in Afghanistan with an ear to the tracks with regard to the retrograde there. With the $500 billion [in defense budget cuts], I’ve asked my folks to take 10 percent out of our operating costs so we can give $5 billion back to the department.”
Harnitchek said DLA and USTRANSCOM are both part of the larger enterprise distribution process, and the agencies will need to work together to achieve those savings.
Both agencies face significant challenges in the future, said Air Force Gen. William Fraser III, USTRANSCOM commander.
“[As Admiral Harnitchek said], we need to keep a close eye on the planned retrograde in Afghanistan, the withdrawal of 23,000 troops and how our posture there will look in the future,” Fraser said. “And we’re all focused on the budget because cost is a big part of what we do.”
Topics discussed during the meeting included an update on support to Operation Enduring Freedom; DLA and GSA local purchase initiatives; and teaming efforts for Joint Task Force Port Opening, a process to rapidly open and establish ports of debarkation and initial distribution networks to support joint operations, and DLA Distribution Expeditionary deployments.
“Defense agencies are open to innovative and collaborative ideas, and today’s environment is such that we need to have rich, constructive dialogue so we can all make things better in the future,” Fraser said. “By working together and through the strategic partnership we have, I know we can do big things.”