Washington, D.C. -- Two senior Army logisticians are putting their extensive skills to work in the government-wide effort to bring more supplies of critical protective and life-saving equipment to healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19.
In March, COL Christopher Dexter was dispatched to the Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force to help fill the national needs for medical equipment, and COL Kenneth Williams was sent to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics and Technology COVID-19 Task Force, focused on acquiring equipment for use by military healthcare providers.
“I have the opportunity to work with many great people, all trying to make a difference, and to save lives, and I am honored to represent the Army and be a part of this,” COL Dexter said. His task force, where he serves as an Army liaison, is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
COL Dexter said they are focused on maximizing the availability of critical protective and life-saving resources, and getting them to the right place, at the right time, and in the right quantity.
“We are working with American businesses to ramp up production of supplies such as masks, face shields, and ventilators.” COL Dexter said. Manufacturers have lengthened operating hours to increase production, and the FEMA-HHS team set up rapid methods to procure goods.
The task force also is looking to build additional capacity for the next phase of supply chain stabilization. Manufacturers are adding machinery or re-tooling assembly lines to produce new products. “It’s important that we build capacity to close the gap between what the private sector can provide and what is needed,” he said.
COL Williams, whose task force is focused on military needs, said: “this is the fastest assembly of talent that I have seen in my entire career. Everyone is stepping up, so we have a shared understanding of what needs to be done, and how best to do it.”
His task force found in the case of N95 masks, for instance, they were in direct competition with other organizations trying to buy them. “It was like a wrestling match,” he said, “until the task force became a tag team.” The Army worked with the Defense Logistics Agency to become more agile, found new vendors, and focused not just on filling shortfalls but understanding all the requirement for the equipment.
The Defense Department is postured to provide more than 39 million N95 masks over the next 90 days in support of response efforts.
Both COL Dexter and COL Williams work in the Army G-4, and their special assignments are also assisting the G-4 with its extensive work on the crisis. The G-4 operates 24-hour Logistics Operations Centers anticipating and responding to the Nation’s pandemic needs.
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