MLF - Military Logistics

NDIA Logistics: Japan consequence management efforts reinforce conference realities

1st April 2011 - 10:02 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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In his closing keynote address to the 27th NDIA Annual Logistics Conference & Exhibition, RAdm Mark Heinrich, Commander, US Navy Fleet and Industrial Supply Centers (FISC) highlighted the realities of this year’s conference theme: ‘Global Sustainment in an Uncertain Future.’

‘The [Conference] topic of ‘Sustaining the Force in Uncertain Times’ is pretty apropos for me because at this very moment, Capt Matt Feely, who is the commanding officer of our supply centre at Yakuska, Japan, is deeply engaged supporting a sea base centered around the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group and the USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group in responding to the terrible consequences of an earthquake, a tidal wave, and a nuclear power plant incident,’ he began. ‘We call that Operation Tomodachi, which is Japanese for ‘Friendship.’’

‘You put those together – an earthquake, a tidal wave, a nuclear plant accident – that’s the unpredictable nature of the fight today,’ he said. ‘That’s chaos theory at work to a large extent. And I’m proud of Matt and his team. Just like Gen McNabb said [to the conference] yesterday, sometimes it’s about networks and our relationships. And our relationships with our partners across Japan, and specifically Matt’s relationships with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force logisticians, is stronger than ever. On a broad level I will tell you that I know for a fact that Matt and his teammates over there have communicated to the Japanese our commitment in aiding their people and rendering support as rapidly as we can: 19 ships; 140 aircraft; and more than 18,000 personnel are supporting the humanitarian operations in and around Japan – including my stellar team of professionals at Yakuska.’

Noting that the teams focus right now is ‘less on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and more on consequence management associated with the Fukushima power plant,’ he added, ‘But on any given day they are coordinating the acquisition, storage and distribution of water, food, material, comfort supplies, fuel for the Japanese and also, of course fuel for our ships, squadrons, and other joint forces supporting the humanitarian efforts.’

Heinrich acknowledged that the entire team effort featured amazing commitments from both the Defense Logistics Agency and US Transportation Command, in the latter case including both military and commercial industry partners like FedEx and DHL – both represented at the conference – ‘who are standing shoulder to shoulder with both the military and civilian members of our team in Japan to support this fight.’

‘Since the earthquake, FISC Yakuska has coordinated the distribution of more than 22,000 gallons of fresh water; 40 tons of food; about 1 ½ tons of medical supplies; and dispensed close to 80 million gallons of fuel to the operating forces in Japan and off the coast. In fact, the very night of the earthquake, a FISC Yakuska fuels team had to race out into the city of Yakuska to provide fuel to the generators at the Yakuska sewage plant to prevent all the sewage from running right into the bay,’ he said.

‘Matt’s team is involved in 24/7 logistics support while continuing to serve the fleet and ashore customers, and this is in an environment where we have already evacuated the families of both the military and civilian employees as a precautionary measure in the face of potential risks from the Fukushima plant,’ he added. ‘And these efforts are just one example of sustainment in an uncertain environment.’

He continued, ‘Just to give you an example of the kinds of stuff they are working on, today Matt Feely and his team are working on what they affectionately call ‘Operation Agua.’ They have taken two barges, cleaned them and refilled them with fresh water. We have mounted pumps on those barges and in about three hours [approx. 1400 Eastern time on 31 March] those barges will get towed up to the Fukushima plant where they will use the fresh water on those barges to displace the salt water that has been pumped into reactors 1 – 4, because the salt water is starting to cake up and cause them problems.’

‘And that’s just one example of the kind of ‘out of the box’ and unpredictable nature of the business that we are in,’ he observed, before turning his keynote to a range of ongoing logistics challenges and solutions underway around the world.

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