DLA Distribution San Joaquin Hosts Expeditionary Academy

May 7, 2024 | Partner News

DLA Distribution San Joaquin hosts Expeditionary Academy

The massive AirBeam shelters, like the one assembled during the Defense Logistics Agency Expeditionary Academy at DLA Distribution San Joaquin, Calif., are used as part of a mobile distribution center when reservists and DDXX members must deploy during contingency and natural disaster events. DLA photo by John Johnson. Released.

Defense Logistics Agency Distribution San Joaquin, California, recently hosted a two-week DLA Distribution Expeditionary Academy for members of DLA’s Joint Reserve Force.

Roughly two dozen DLA Joint Force Reservists from various parts of the United States teamed up during the academy with almost 40 members of DLA Distribution San Joaquin’s deployable team to train in every facet of constructing and operating a mobile DLA distribution center.

The academy is designed to help train DLA reservists conduct distribution activities as part of the DLA Distribution Expeditionary team during a deployment in response to a natural disaster or in support of the warfighter during a contingency operation.

The scalable teams provide regional DLA commanders with a deployable and joint distribution capability that supports Combatant Commanders’ logistical and operational requirements for unified land operations and contingency operations.

They provide personnel who can effectively perform all the normal functions of DLA Distribution – which includes picking, packing, stowing, materiel storage and inventory cross-docking – combined with the ability to quickly set up and run a temporary facility where one is needed, but doesn’t currently exist. Team members are located at DLA Distribution San Joaquin and DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.

“We land in an area and create a distribution center there from the ground up,” explained Jason Middleton, team supervisor, DLA Distribution San Joaquin Expeditionary team. “When our distribution centers do not have the fixed network capabilities needed, that’s where the Expeditionary team comes in.”

“The Academy is two phases,” said Middleton. “Phase one is constructing a mobile distribution center from the ground up, and phase two is refining their distribution skillsets.”

To accomplish this, military reservists spent a week learning how to safely operate material handling equipment, set up and use generators and erect mobile command centers and large tents unpacked from crates. They spent another week setting up their computer access and honing their warehousing skills.

“What you want is for them to be up to speed,” said Ephraim Walters, heavy equipment mechanic, DLA Distribution Expeditionary team, of the reservists he helped to train. “You want them to have a better understanding of how to do everything that we need to do.”

In addition to the more ordinary distribution processes other workers perform on a daily basis, those necessary deployable abilities run the gamut from mapping out and setting the footings for the massive AirBeam tents, to assembling mobile command centers atop specialized trailers, to driving the oversized MHE needed to move some of this equipment around.

“The equipment we have is not the regular forklifts that they use in the warehouses,” said Jimmy Trinidad, team lead, DLA Distribution Expeditionary team.

Some of the other specialty equipment the reservists trained with during the academy included 100-pound air hammers used to lock in the strategically placed feet of the giant AirBeam shelter and the generator-powered air conditioning units used to cool down the smaller Alaska Defense shelter.

According to Trinidad, the annual academy is a necessary part of ensuring the reserve members are capable of performing their wartime duties, should they ever receive the call to do so.

“If you don’t have the experience, you can’t do it,” he said.

To Middleton, that experience and training needs to be a continuous process that occurs long before the call to deploy.

“The foundation of success in a contingency environment and, additionally, in a natural disaster environment, is training,” Middleton said. “And you can’t wait for it to happen. You can’t try to train in the environment itself. That’s why training is important now.”

Middleton also noted that in the most recent contingencies that the U.S. military has been involved with, it has been the reserve units who often deploy first.

“These are the folks who are going to go first,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon us, it’s important for us, to make sure that they’re ready. The academy is how we can do our small part to make sure that warfighters are always ready.”

For the members of the team, there’s an extra level of pride that comes with not only getting the job done, but also ensuring the DLA reservists continue to be a capable part of the warfighting mission.

“It’s ‘Warfighter Always,’ right?” Middleton said. “And that’s exactly what we’re here to do – support the warfighter. And this is part of it, no doubt. Our small part of supporting the warfighter is hosting the Academy.”

By John Johnson, DLA Distribution Public Affairs Office

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