Federal agencies have kicked it into high gear to prepare for hurricane season which began June 1st. Two of the agencies working together are FEMA and the Defense Logistics Agency. They just finished a three-day training exercise designed to test their ability to collaborate in emergencies.
Army Colonel Aaron Geduldig, Chief of the Joint Logistics Operations Center at DLA, told Federal News Radio getting meals, fuel, and medical supplies to FEMA isn’t as easy as it may sound at first.
“We’re a Defense agency,” said Geduldig, “they’re a civilian agency, so we come into it with two different types of languages as we begin any of these processes.”
And learning to speak the same language is only the first step in the process. That’s why these exercises are held.
Every time that we can get together and refine our engagements, the requirements – especially how we generate the paperwork, and the requirements at FEMA’s end for us to respond and then push the supplies out to them, it’s always a good-news story and helps us significantly and getting the end result to the people on the ground.
Then there’s the matter of learning FEMA’s preferences, so DLA can anticipate needs.
Initially many of our rations would come from our warehouses, but as we begin to draw down those supplies in the event we need a large push of meals, then… we go right to the private sector. Initially FEMA likes to get the more commercial types of meals than they do the military Meals Ready to Eat that you see in the plastic pouches.
This exercise, said Geduldig, was a chance to learn something new.
The challenges we face is always in the communication. Our greatest challenge for this was asset visibility. FEMA is striving to not only see the status of their orders in our systems, but to also be able to see the goods as they move across America’s highways to get to their staging areas. So total asset visibility is one that we’re working with FEMA to be able to provide them that asset visibility. So as it’s loaded from a dock and gets on a truck, that they’ll be able to see it, know what’s on it as it arrives at their staging area. That is one venue that we’re pushing hard to resolve and it’s one I think we have a solution for, but it’s going to take a couple of months for us to bring it online.
They may not that much time. DLA notes the forecast team at Colorado State University predicts an above-average hurricane season, with 15 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin. Eight are expected to develop into hurricanes, and four are expected to become major category 3 to 5 hurricanes.