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Maritime Logistics Community News : Summer 2010
13 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2010 I would soon learn in this unique environment is that in a time of need and disaster many people are willing to volunteer which while noble in intention, it does not always result in getting the right people. After rejecting some suggestions and my chain of command thinking I was a little crazy I soon convinced them that I didn't need or want numerous people with a plethora of skills, I needed to add to an already competent team, with the right people who had the skills pertaining to the massive task ahead coupled with the right attitude. Almost immediately I had a Chief Cook volunteer and he proved to be a sensational asset. He was the type of cook I would want on any ship; he knew his job, knew what the ships should be doing, and importantly he had that unique cook attribute of speaking his mind and telling me what I needed to know, not what I wanted to hear. I completed my team by injecting two USN logistic specialist reservists for prepositioning and loading, one who I would successfully petition to keep for the duration of the relief effort and another who would give me "the busiest 2 weeks of his life". For 42 days the seven man LSC Mayport team worked approximately 16-18 hour days with no respite. Humanitarian relief ships were scheduled three days apart, relief supplies were coming in from unnamed donors by the semi trailer load, provisions were being ordered at an unprecedented level and there were enough medical supplies to fill a warehouse with the USNS COMFORT responding that they were out of space. Due to the inconsistent nature of humanitarian relief it was difficult to develop any type of schedule, however a team of exceptional people willing to 'remain flexible' would ensure success during a very testing time. At times we were passing each other in the office at 0100 then 0400 and then starting the official work day at 0700. We slept in vehicles, our offices and one of the team even managed to grab a quick 45 min nap on a box of medical supplies. The mix of civilian and military crews from the ships we would load over the duration of the effort remained flexible, were intent on getting the job done, appreciative of the Mayport team and proved they could have a sense of humor at 0300. An imperative part of our operation would be the successful collaboration with Defence Logistics Agency (DLA), the civilian corporation which manages all United States military warehouses and move all defense assets. It was the team environment fostered between DLA and LSC which would prove to be the catalyst for success. Both LSC and DLA relied upon the global logistics support network to order, load, and deliver supplies to the devastated area. These items included bottled water, food, and medical supplies, as well as responding to force sustainment requirements (ships stores, repair parts, and other subsistence/provisions) for the U.S. Navy ships operating in the vicinity of Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Naval Station (NS) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The orchestrated response incorporated logistics planning, operational logistics support, and mission specific concepts of operations unique to humanitarian aid response. Our strategy was effective because it integrated Navy logistics capabilities with the logistics capabilities of the other services, industry, and allies to create a unity of effort among multiple providers with an overarching goal to facilitate the movement of essential humanitarian assistance/disaster response items to Haiti. Over the course of 42 days LSC Mayport would coordinate the deliveries of the following relief supplies for OPERATION UNIFIED RESPONSE: • 474,720 Humanitarian Daily Rations • 1,024 five-gallon water jugs • 70 pallets of medical supplies • 6 pallets of medical equipment • 721 pallets of dry provisions • 644 pallets of frozen provisions • 325 pallets of chill provisions • 553 pallets of fleet freight • 305 pallets of canteen supplies • 109 pallets of mail Those 42 days that LSC Mayport responded to UNIFIED RESPONSE are undoubtedly the busiest I have been. While disaster relief and humanitarian aid scenarios are continually developed and trained for, each disaster is unique and not only must you overcome the conspicuous obstacles injected by the disaster itself, there are unforeseen and unnecessary hurdles from external agencies and personnel. I would soon learn that during a high profile global relief effort people are very quick to tell you what you need to do to be more successful, or how they think it should be done. While this is not the appropriate forum to delve into the political side of a relief effort and the magnitude of frustration it inflicts on people what I will say is that my decisions, execution and occasional lapse of verbal discipline were at all times fully supported, endorsed and understood by my Chain of Command. I was trusted and empowered to do a job which culminated the last 10 years of my Australian Navy Supply Officer training and experience. I learned first hand that success isn't found solely in a supply manual, but rather it relies upon a culmination of effective task execution, time management and communication in conjunction with effective leadership. It involves inspiring confidence and giving trust and autonomy to individuals to do the job they have trained for. Its learning to fight the battles you really want to win and aquiesing and rising above those not important, and at all times supporting those individuals around you whose actions are not determined by what they will gain or receive in the long term but by a dedication to contribute to something bigger then themselves. Mayport Wharf full of supplies LEUT Whiteman amongst stores