DLA receives unit award for Hurricane Sandy support, global operations

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The secretary of defense has awarded the Defense Logistics Agency the Joint Meritorious Unit Award in recognition of its relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy while continuously supporting global logistics operations.

The award, which will be presented later this month, recognizes DLA’s “superior mission capabilities during Hurricane Sandy relief efforts” and simultaneous global contingency operations, despite the closure of transit lines through Pakistan, from Nov. 1, 2011, to Dec. 3, 2012.

DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek said the award highlighted the agency’s ability to come together to do what others might call impossible.

This award recognizes your astounding logistical support during Hurricane Sandy when millions of fellow Americans were without food and supplies, and again, during the closure of the Pakistan border that stopped logistics from reaching troops in Afghanistan,” he said. “Both of these behemoth logistical efforts required lots of people to function as a team to do what most would consider impossible.”

Personnel assigned to the agency for at least 30 days during the award period are eligible to receive and wear the award, Brad Bunn, DLA Human Resources director, wrote in an email to DLA senior leaders May 6. The award consists of service ribbons for military members, lapel pins for civilian employees and a unit streamer for the DLA flag. Ribbons and lapel pins will be issued to current employees shortly, according to the memo.

“One of the Director’s guiding principles is as follows: ‘We are living in historic times … doing things we’ve never done before … make some history yourself,’” Bunn wrote. “This JMUA exemplifies that principle, and while the 27,000 members of the DLA workforce continue to make history today, [when this award is presented] we’ll be able to celebrate and reflect on their extraordinary accomplishments and contributions. Congratulations to you and your teams.”

The award citation, signed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and dated April 29, highlights DLA’s 24/7 operations and relief efforts in support of Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall Oct. 29, 2012. More than 50 DLA employees deployed in support of relief efforts to places like the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and the New York City mayor’s office.

In addition, the agency provided more than 6.3 million meals, 72,000 liters of bottled water, 173,000 blankets, 4,000 cots, 19,000 maps, 200 hypothermia prevention kits, six portable X-ray machines and removal of 75 million pounds of trash and debris. DLA was also a key provider of fuel, dispatching a network of wholesale, retail, civilian and military tankers to provide more than 9 million gallons of fuel to those affected by the hurricane. DLA also provided generators to support critical infrastructure and water pumps to alleviate flooding.

“The total overwhelming support made a significant impact on the lives of so many of our fellow citizens who were affected and displaced by Hurricane Sandy,” the citation reads.

Harnitchek called the award a clear reflection of the efforts he has seen firsthand, and he praised the DLA employees whose efforts led to the honor.

“During the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I saw you in action for myself in New York and New Jersey,” he said. “I was extremely proud and impressed by DLA personnel who made it look easy to get 6 million meals, water, blankets, medical equipment, fuel, generators and other supplies to an area completely devastated and in desperate need. In addition, our troops in combat were dependent on the expeditious manner and expertise you showed when the border closed in Pakistan. Your work was bar none. Our troops got what they needed through your ingenuity, and you never missed a beat.”

While supporting Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, DLA continued its logistics support to contingency operations around the world, the citation states. During the award period, the agency provided more than $51 million in food and more than $103 million in fuel to deployed military units while processing more than 780,000 pounds of scrap material for removal by contract vendors.

The citation also makes note of DLA’s “exceptional support” to U.S. forces in Afghanistan despite the closure of the Pakistan ground line in November 2011. The closing of this key supply route required DLA personnel to work closely with vendors and military partners to increase subsistence and fuel flow on the Northern Distribution Network, including flying subsistence items from Riga, Latvia. The flights not only allowed DLA to keep fuel and subsistence readily available, but they also provided the opportunity to transport retrograde material out of Afghanistan via return flights to Riga.

Another effort that helped mitigate the effects of the ground line’s closure was the expansion of efforts to source supplies from Central Asian states. DLA purchased more than $1 billion of critical goods and services from Central Asian states in 2012, helping to boost local economies while ensuring ready access to supplies.

“DLA continues to meet the challenges of persistent conflict and global humanitarian efforts,” the citation reads. “World-class logistics support professionals, dynamic processes and advanced technologies enable DLA to anticipate and meet full spectrum requirements. Without question, the overriding reason for the agency’s continued success is the skill, dedication and commitment of the men and women who break down organizational barriers and work together to develop innovative solutions.”

Authorized by the secretary of defense on June 10, 1981, the JMUA is awarded to joint activities for meritorious achievement or service for actions in combat, a declared national emergency or extraordinary circumstances that involve national interest, according to DoD Manual 1348.33, Manual of Military Decorations and Awards.

Graphic image: DLA Logo, Joint meritorious unit award ribbon
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The Defense Logistics Agency has been awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for its relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy while continuously supporting global logistics operations.
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