RICHMOND, Va. — Defense Logistics Agency Aviation is ensuring equipment needed to live in austere conditions is available for the health and safety of service members deploying to help contain the Ebola virus in West Africa.
The troops supporting Operation United Assistance, the Defense Department operation supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development-led effort, are living in tents, making potable water, hot showers and laundry facilities necessities. Reverse osmosis purification units shipped to deploying units by DLA Land and Maritime require chemicals, disinfectants, and lubricating oil to stay functioning. One hundred pounds of calcium hypochlorite, commonly referred to as HTH, was shipped to Africa by DLA Aviation Oct. 10.
HTH is the same chemical used in swimming pools and the food services industry. In Africa, the chemical is being used to provide clean drinking water and disinfect dining facilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people in West Africa to clean and disinfect their hands with a chlorine solution, according to the CDC website.
Cliff Myers, a chemist in DLA Aviation’s Supplier Operations Directorate, Joint Commodities Division, said potable water isn’t the only concern.
“We are also shipping rodent traps, insecticides, insect repellents and bed nets,” he said. “We are shipping repellents so Soldiers can treat uniforms that weren’t already pre-treated when issued by DLA Troop Support.”
Myers said repellents are also being provided to treat equipment, living areas and troops’ exposed skin.
“The traps are sent to control any rodent population that may be nearby. Not only is Ebola a concern, but in these types of living conditions, malaria, dengue and other disease pest vectors can also become a concern.”
Myers said DLA Aviation’s mission has always been providing the best possible support to U.S. service members.
As of Oct. 28, DLA had 30 personnel in Liberia and Senegal. DLA Aviation is sending a warfighter support representative to work with the DLA support team in Africa by the end of November.
“Our WSR will serve as the focal point for forward-deployed units assisting with DLA support,” said Gerol Meadows, DLA Aviation’s civilian force provider, who manages the field activity’s DLA support team obligations. “Our representative may face some unique challenges requiring flexibility as this is the first DST team formed to assist in an operation dealing with an infectious disease.”
DLA Aviation’s DST mission is managed in the Customer Operations Directorate’s Army Customer Facing Division, which is supporting the Army’s in-country requirements.
Dave Brown, chief of the division’s Operations Branch, said his division is working with the Business Process Support Directorate and DLA Troop Support to review the availability of 2,000 items on the Army’s list of requirements to stock a forward supply support activity being established in Africa. Many of those items are for aircraft supporting OUA.
“The items included bench stock items like nuts, bolts, washers, clamps, electrical wire/harnesses, etc.,” Brown said. “Some of the more airframe-related end items are brake pads, fuel selector valves, clearance [and] marker lights, steering linkage [and] tie rod ends, fuel [and] hydraulic filter elements, fuel pumps, and generators. We are supporting the KC-130 Hercules, UH-60 Black Hawk, and H-60 Seahawk, and CH-47 Chinook aircraft weapon systems.”
About a third of the items are industrial hardware items assigned to DLA Aviation, and all but 112 items were in the distribution system as of Nov. 10, he said. DLA Aviation is looking at existing contracts to expedite deliveries or push out a high-priority purchase request for the items not in the system.
“The Army provided the list, but hasn’t placed any orders yet,” he said. “We are leaning forward to fill the list and position the stock.”
The Army’s authorized stock list of repair parts represents a deliberate effort by the military service and DLA to ensure the replenishment items are in theater when needed.
“Army aviation units should be taking an initial 30-day supply of items,” Brown said. “The items on the ASL should arrive prior to the Army’s initial supply packages being consumed.”
Brown said it’s important for DLA Aviation to respond to emerging needs for OUA quickly.
“OUA is a highly visible, critical operation, and we are putting a priority of filling needed requirements, but this is what we do; it’s our basic business,” he said.