FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Every Soldier requires weapons, ammunition, food, supplies, clothing and vehicles, but many probably don't realize one organization is responsible for just about everything a Soldier needs to do his job.

The Fort Bragg Directorate of Logistics provides logistics, some training and readiness support to active duty and reserve components units, state and federal agencies and other customers for maintenance, transportation, supply and services.

"We touch everything that the Soldier eats, wears, the fuel that he puts in his vehicle, the material he uses to build his foxhole, the weapon and bullets that he fires and the vehicle he drives," said Robert Franks, DOL director.

The directorate, with 72 government employees and 1618 contractors, is divided into four major divisions - Plans and Operations, Maintenance, Supply and Services and Installation Transportation. Each division has functional subdivisions that touch just about every aspect of Fort Bragg's daily operations. Some of the DOL's support to the installation since January 2008 includes:

- Moving 34,714 passengers by air
- Issuing or replacing equipment for 50,925 Soldiers at the Central Issue Facility
- Moving 740 rail cars for deployment/exercises
- Repairing 15,907 pieces of equipment
- Transporting 24,472 passengers using the shuttle bus
- Preparing and serving 2.28 million meals at the dining facilities
- Issuing 1,689 passports

"We have had commanders say 'We didn't know that the DOL did all that,'" said Franks.

To be able to accomplish all of the tasks the installation requires and improve processes to better support Soldiers, the directorate decided to streamline many of its operations. Enter Lean Six Sigma, a business improvement methodology that combines tools from both lean manufacturing and Six Sigma. Lean manufacturing focuses on speed and traditional Six Sigma focuses on quality.

One example is the Central Issue Facility. In August 2006, DOL implemented Lean Six Sigma practices on all operations at the facility. The result was a tremendous success according to Franks. The CIF cut back on costs while providing faster service to its customers.

"Soldiers use to spend an hour to an hour and a half there. (Now) Soldiers are in and out of the CIF in 16 to 20 minutes and they leave with a smile," said Franks.

Another success story was the redesign of the new ammunition supply point.

"We took a proposal that was going to cost $62 million to build and once again, we used Lean Six Sigma redesign sauce on (the ASP) and redesigned it to be less costly and more efficient in terms of operation," said Hector Diodonet, chief, Support Operations Branch, DOL.

Working smarter, not harder helped DOL save the Army $38 million in cost avoidance at the CIF and more than $45 million in ammunition costs at the ASP.

"DOL projects from Fort Bragg alone resulted in $366,000 worth of savings and cost avoidance that contributed to the Installation Management Command achieving its goal for the fiscal year," said Franks.

One of DOL's best practices that has increased efficiency and productivity is the pit stop concept for the maintenance of military vehicles.

"There are five major types of vehicles that drive a units' readiness posture on Fort Bragg. We took each vehicle and did an analysis on 'what parts break 95 percent of the time and must be replaced'' We wanted to reduce non-value-added time waiting on parts by having them available as we need them to improve our production times," said Franks.

"All parts identified in advance are ordered and placed into kits so when the vehicle is called forward for repair, the kit is placed in the bay with the mechanics along with all special tools and technical manuals required to complete the job. Each bay is equipped with a computer so when mechanics tear down a vehicle, if they find that an additional part is required, the mechanic can order the part right from the bay. If the part is available from shop supply, it is delivered to the bay. The mechanic stays in the pit turning wrenches on the vehicle. There is no lost time looking for stuff," said Franks.

"We have increased productivity from 75 vehicles a month to over 311 vehicles in a month just by making some process changes," he said.

Another innovative idea to help the Soldier is the DOL on the move repair trailers, filled with tools and parts to repair Soldiers' weapons and night vision equipment on-site.

"It takes repair to Soldiers, wherever they are," said Franks.

Efficiency isn't the only quality at which DOL excels.

"Customer service is an integral part of everything that DOL does," said Diodonet. "All of our managers, including our director and training staff, have gone through a customer service training course. That also includes the contractors who work for us (such as) customer service agents, those people who lean over the counter and help you," he said.

"We are now much more sensitive to the customers' needs, friendlier and more supportive" said Diodonet. "We'll go out of our way to meet the customers' demands. If we can't, we'll refer the customer to someone who can. Instead of simply telling them 'where to go', we will take you there and show you how," added Franks.

The directorate lives up to its vision of providing the highest quality of service in, logistics and readiness with its arsenal of innovative practices, cost effective measures and customer focused service. DOL delivers - whether it's moving household goods across the country to shipment and recovery of unit equipment, DOL will do it quickly and more efficiently with a smile say DOL officials.

(Editor's note: This is the beginning of a series about the many aspects of the Directorate of Logistics.)