NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. (Army News Service, July 9, 2010) -- A team from the Defense Logistics Agency will open a distribution facility in Afghanistan to receive, store and issue material needed by U.S. military forces there.

This deployment marks the first time the team will operate outside the continental U.S. The intent is to help warfighters in Afghanistan reduce dependence on strategic airlift for restocking supplies, explained Marc Parsons, director for the expeditionary depot.

"Because of the rough terrain and lack of infrastructure in Afghanistan, having a DLA distribution facility in country to forward-position items will help reduce sustainment airlift and will help warfighters utilize [available] air channels for much needed equipment and troop movements," Parsons said.

Staffed by highly trained civilians, the depot is a modular, scalable, deployable unit designed to improve theater distribution in the early days of a conflict. While operations in Afghanistan have been ongoing for almost nine years, military logisticians continue to explore options for ensuring steady resupply of troops despite the country's lack of road and rail networks.

"By positioning our expeditionary depot in country, early estimates are that we will be able to reduce sustainment airlift into Afghanistan by 38 percent," said DLA distribution commander, Rear Adm. Thomas Traaen.

The 40-person team, made up of employees from DLA's distribution centers in New Cumberland, Pa., Texarkana, Texas, and Tracy, Calif., underwent intense theater-specific pre-deployment training hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers at the Unit Deployment Center in Winchester, Va., said Paul Plevich, the depot's operations and training officer.

Deploying team members said they are ready for the new challenge and excited for the chance to work alongside uniformed military members to support warfighters on the ground.

In addition to a full roster of technical and distribution experts, the depot is outfitted with the tools and machines necessary perform the full range of distribution operations.

The tactical operations center, the team's emergency response and communication unit, comes fully equipped with commercial satellite communications, generators, tactical furniture and audio/video technology. The same equipment is also available at a stand-alone distribution facility. Specialized material-handling equipment, heating and air conditioning units, and containment systems were also packed for the trip.

For this mission, officials said, the expeditionary depot's warehouses will mainly support Army and Marine Corps customers. The warehouses, which are usually set up within four hours of the team's arrival on site, will be key to operations, they said.

Parsons said the warehouses will store repair parts such as kit assemblies and sub-assemblies, as well as clothing, reparable consumable items required for maintenance support of all equipment and construction materials.

As the Department of Defense's combat logistics support agency, DLA provides the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, other federal agencies, and joint and allied forces with a variety of logistics, acquisition and technical services.

The DLA sources and provides nearly 100 percent of the consumable items America's military forces need to operate: from food, fuel and energy, to uniforms, medical supplies, and construction and barrier equipment. DLA also supplies about 84 percent of the military's spare parts.