With 26 locations spanning the globe, Defense Logistics Agency distribution centers are responsible for the receipt, storage, issue, packing, preservation and transportation of more than 4 million items valued at more than $101 billion. With sites in seven countries and 12 U.S. states, the distribution centers are able to position material close to the agency's 243,000 customers, helping improve operational readiness, decrease wait times and lower costs.
Previously known as depots, DLA's distribution centers underwent a name change almost four years ago, thanks to the 2010 "We Are DLA" initiative.
The initiative, aimed at creating a single-agency environment for customers and its global workforce, was one of the first steps in clearly identifying each part of DLA. By renaming its field activities, DLA was able to reflect the commodity or service the organization provides to customers.
"The effect of the We Are DLA initiative has been very positive," DLA Vice Director Ted Case said. "Now, our organizations are clearly identified as being part of the greater DLA enterprise."
Previously, facilities in the DLA Distribution network were named 'Defense Distribution Depot,' followed by the city and state they were located in.
Under the "We are DLA" initiative, distribution organizations were allowed to drop the word 'depot' and all were subsequently renamed for their respective locations. Examples include: DLA Distribution Albany, Ga., and DLA Distribution Europe, which is in Germany.
"The word 'depot' can sometimes have a perceived connotation of "maintenance depot" Case said. "But that's just not reflective of today's distribution facilities or the tailored logistics solutions that DLA Distribution provides its customers."
In fact, some of the material entering DLA Distribution's more than 75 million square feet of storage space actually spends little time there and has nothing to do with "maintenance", Case said.
"With a high volume throughput capability, DLA's distribution centers can cross-dock material for mere hours as the material is prepared for further transport," Case said. "This allows for fast turnarounds and keeps DLA working constantly, making depot an obsolete term for DLA's current capabilities."
Although the We Are DLA initiative was the first time in DLA's history that an attempt was made to make organizational names consistent, the initiative was only the first step in creating a more cohesive agency, Case said.
"For DLA, one of our biggest challenges is helping customers understand the agency and its missions," he said. "This initiative has helped show them that although the agency has several arms doing different things, as a whole, we all have the same mission: to serve the warfighter. And only by working together can we be successful."
Delores Walker, a supply technician, and Max Volk, a material examiner and identifier, work to pack items in DLA Distribution Anniston, Ala. Photo by Bill Thomas Jr.