Defense Logistics Agency
The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is a US Department of Defense (DoD) defense agency. The DLA Director reports to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics through the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness. The DLA provides worldwide logistics support for the missions of the Military Departments and the Unified Combatant Commands under conditions of peace and war. It also provides logistics support to other DoD Components and certain Federal agencies, foreign governments, international organizations, and others as authorized. The DLA's origins date back to World War II when America's huge military buildup required the rapid procurement of vast amounts of munitions and supplies.
The Defense Logistics Agency supplies the Nation's military services and several civilian agencies with the critical resources they need to accomplish their worldwide missions. DLA provides wide-ranging logistical support for peacetime and wartime operations,as well as emergency preparedness and humanitarian missions.
Since its creation in 1961, DLA has grown to become a worldwide logistics combat support operation. From its headquarters just outside Washington, DC, DLA oversaw a staff of more than 28,000 civilian and military employees who worked in all 50 states and 27 foreign countries. It supplied almost every consumable item America's military services need to operate, from groceries to jet fuel. In short, if America's forces can eat it, wear it, drive it, shoot it, or burn it, chances are that DLA helped provide it. DLA also helped dispose of materiel and equipment that was no longer needed.
In FY09 revenues of nearly $38 billion would put DLA in the top 60 of the Fortune 500 list, ahead of companies like American Express, DuPont and Coca Cola. By that time it employed more than 26,000 civilian and military employees, supported nearly 1,700 weapon systems, managed 8 supply chains and 4 million items, administered the storage and disposal of strategic and critical materials to support national defense, operated in 48 states and 28 countries, processed 133,000 requisitions and nearly 10,000 contract actions a day, managed 25 distribution depots worldwide. The DLA had the third largest storage capacity of the top 50 distribution warehouses (behind FedEx and UPS) and was a leader in DoD's efforts to supply the military services with alternative fuel and renewable energy solutions. It supported humanitarian relief efforts at home and abroad and provided logistics support to other federal agencies. Also in FY09, Foreign Military Sales of about $1.5 billion went through DLA, supporting 118 countries.
DLA supported every major war and contingency operation in the first 4 decades of its existance, from the Vietnam War to operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. During the Persian Gulf War (1990-91), for instance, DLA provided more than $3 billion worth of food, clothing, medical supplies, and weapon system repair parts to the military services of the United States and several Allied nations. Later, DLA provided more than $69 million worth of food,clothing and medical supplies to the humanitarian relief efforts. DLA continued to provide such support into the new millenia.
DLA continued to refine its ability to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of its military customers. DLA's Contingency Support Teams were consistently among the first to respond to the needs of forces deployed to far-flung countries around the world. In addition, DLA streamlined its supply
depot and distribution system to reduce costs and improve delivery times to its customers in the field.
The origins of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) dated back to World War II when America's huge military buildup required the rapid procurement of vast amounts of munitions and supplies. After the war, a presidential commission headed by former President Herbert Hoover recommended centralizing management of common military logistics support and introducing uniform financial management practices. Integrated management of supplies and services began in 1952 with the establishment of a joint Army-Navy-Air Force Support Center to control identification of supply items. For the first time, all the military services bought, stored, and issued items using a common nomenclature. DoD and the services defined the materiel that would be managed on an integrated basis as "consumables," meaning supplies that are not repairable or are consumed in normal use. Consumable items, also called commodities, were assigned to one military service to manage for all the services.
In the mid 1950s, commodity manager agencies (called "single managers") were established to buy, store and issue supplies, manage inventories, and forecast requirements. The Army managed food and clothing; the Navy managed medical supplies, petroleum, and industrial parts; and the Air Force managed electronic items. In each category, the single manager was able to reduce its investment by centralizing wholesale stocks and simplify the supply process by persuading the services to adopt the same standard items.
The single manager concept, though successful, did not provide the uniform procedures recommended by the Hoover Commission. Each single manager operated under the procedures of its parent service, and customers had to use as many sets of procedures as there were commodity managers. In 1961, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered that the single-manager agencies be consolidated into one agency. The Defense Supply Agency (DSA) was established on 1 October 1961, and began operations on 1 January 1962. Eight single-manager agencies became DSA supply centers.
In 1965, DoD consolidated most of the contract administration activities of the military services to avoid duplication of effort and provide uniform procedures in administering contracts. Officials established the Defense Contract Administration Services (DCAS) within DSA to manage the consolidated functions. The Agency's new contract administration mission gave it responsibility for the performance of most defense contractors.
The Agency's responsibilities extended overseas when it assumed responsibility for defense overseas property disposal operations and worldwide procurement, management, and distribution of coal and bulk petroleum products in 1972, and worldwide management of food items for troop feeding and in support of commissaries in 1973.
In recognition of 16 years of growth and expanded responsibilities, on 1 January 1977, officials changed the name of the Defense Supply Agency to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 identified DLA as a combat support agency. In 1988, the Agency assumed management of the nation's stockpile of strategic materials from the General Services Administration. Soon after, DLA established the Defense National Stockpile Center as a primary-level field activity. In 1990, DoD directed that virtually all contract administration functions be consolidated within DLA. In response, the agency established the Defense Contract Management Command, absorbing its Defense Contract Administration Services into the new command.
Throughout the 1990s the agency continued its effort to eliminate managerial and stockage duplication, reducing overhead costs. In April 1990, DoD directed that all the distribution depots of the military services and DLA be consolidated into a single, unified materiel distribution system to reduce overhead and costs and designated DLA to manage it. The consolidation began in October 1990 and was completed on 16 March 1992.
The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, instituted in 1993, significantly affected the way the Agency organized for its contract administration and supply distribution missions. Officials merged, realigned, or closed several DLA primary-level field activities. Also in response to BRAC, officials merged the former Defense Construction Supply Center Columbus and the former Defense Electronic Supply Center Dayton to form the Defense Supply Center Columbus. In 1995, the DLA headquarters and the Defense Fuel Supply Center (renamed Defense Energy Support Center in January 1998) moved from Cameron Station in Alexandria, Virginia, to Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
The Defense Logistics Support Command (DLSC), a major subordinate command of the Defense Logistics Agency, formerly known as Materiel Management, was established in January 1998. The command was responsible for procuring, storing, and distributing over 85 percent of the consumable spare parts required by the military services, in addition to providing all fuel, medical, subsistence, and clothing and textile support. The DLSC worldwide logistics support network encompassed 5 Inventory Control Points, the Defense Distribution Center and 24 distribution depots. It also included the DLA and DoD cataloging functions, a disposal and reutilization activity. It was subsequently reorganized as the Defense Logistics Agency Logistics Operations directorate (DLALO J-3).
During the 1990s, the DLA was organized around a number of what were referred to as Lead Centers, along with 2 theater support entities. The Lead Centers formed a network of lead centers purchase and manage a variety of supplies and services to include fuel, food, clothing, construction supplies, electronics, medical supplies, distribution and disposal reutilization services. These included: the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, responsible for fuels, gas and electrical power; the Defense Supply Center, Columbus (DSCC) in Columbus, Ohio, responsible for Maritime and Land Weapon Systems support; the Defense Supply Center, Richmond (DSCR) in Richmond, Virginia, responsible for Aviation support; the Defense Supply Center, Philadelphia (DSCP) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, responsible for food, clothing, medical, general and industrial supplies; the Defense Distribution Center (DDC) New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, which operated a worldwide network of 24 distribution depots that received, stored, and issued supplies, and was strategically located to enhance rapid distribution of critical military items; the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) in Battle Creek, Michigan, which handled property disposal of items from vehicles and officeequipment to scrapping of Naval ships and hazardous materials; and the Defense National Stockpile Center (DNSC) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, which stockpiled strategic raw materials so the United States would not be dependent on foreign sources in the event of war. With the changed international environment following the end of the Cold War, the initial move had been to have DNSC sell off its commodities and to phase it out.
DLA established an eBusiness unit associated with the Lead Centers, in order to keep up with the fast pace of the electronic environment,. The Defense Electronic Business Program Office (DoD eBusiness) fell under DLA's J-6 (Information Operations) directorate and was charged with implementing electronic business practices. DoD eBusiness included the following functions: Document Automation and Production Service (DAPS), located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, which provided printing services,digital conversion and storage of documents; Defense Logistics Information Service in Battle Creek, Michigan, which managed and distributed logistics information; and the Defense Automatic Addressing System Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, which received, edited, validated and routed logistics transactions.
DLA Theater Support revolved around two headquarters in Europe and the Pacific to provide customer assistance, liaison services, war planning interfaces and logistics support to the Commanders in Chief and their service component commands. DLA Europe in Wiesbaden, Germany served as the focal point for tracking all warfighter issues to and from all DLA activities in Europe and the continental United States. DLA Pacific in Taegu, Korea provided customer assistance, liaison, services, war planning interfaces and logistics support to the Commanders in Chief, Pacific, Command and his service component commands. Following the events of 11 September 2001, a third regional entity was created for the US Central Command area of responsibility, DLA Central. DLA Europe also eventually incorporated the African area of responsibility, becoming DLA Europe and Africa. All of these entities were under the control of the DLA J-3/4 Logistics Operations and Readiness.
In February 2000, the Defense Logistics Agency announced a reorganization that was part of a larger plan to prepare itself to provide essential military logistics support for the 21st century warfighter. The new organizational structure, part of an integrated plan called DLA 21, created 4 major business areas for the agency: the Defense Logistics Support Command; the Defense Contract Management Command; Information Operations; and Financial Operations. DLA 21 focused on 5 key areas: organizational design, modernization of automated business systems, employment of strategic partnerships with industry, better knowledge and understanding of customer needs, and replenishment and development of a world-class workforce. Under the restructure, the Defense Logistics Support Command provides integration of the Agency's logistics operations, focusing on supply chain management, readiness and contingency operations support. The Defense Contract Management Command continued as the Department of Defense's primary contract administration activity. Information Operations consolidated the Agency's information technology activities to enhance electronic commerce, logistics support systems, and document automation in support of military logistics. Financial Operations streamlined DLA's financial system so it served as an enabler of the agency's initiatives of the future. Streamlined staff support at the headquarters was aligned under a group of special staff offices and the newly established DLA Support Services.
The Department of Defense announced the establishment of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) effective 27 March 2000. Establishing the DCMA assigned responsibility for Department of Defense contract management to the new agency. DCMA was formerly the DCMC, a major subordinate command of the Defense Logistics Agency. Establishing DCMA was intended to allow DOD to be more responsive to both the military service and Defense agency customers. DCMA was placed under the direction and authority of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
In 2010, as part of the We Are DLA initiative, all of DLA's Primary Level Field Activities changed their names. The offices within the DLA Headquarters also experienced name changes. The purpose of the initiative was to create a single agency environment.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list