A tenant activity here created a larger presence recently by hiring additional staff members to provide more in-person service to production management specialist and parts managers. The depot's increased workload and the various weapons systems produced here were cited as reasons.

The Defense Logistics Agency's Defense Distribution Depot-Anniston employs nearly 250 government civilians on the installation who provide distribution services in support of Anniston Army Depot's maintenance mission. These workers are located throughout the depot-shipping, receiving, storing and disposing of parts used in the maintenance and overhaul of combat vehicles and small arms.

Inside the building that houses the director of production is an office occupied by a handful of DLA representatives who provide face-to-face customer service to key players in the depot's production operations. Prior to hiring three staff members this fall, Dave Ballard was the sole permanent customer service representative in Bldg. 411.

Jason Borders, who has three years experience as a maintenance parts specialist at ANAD, joined the DLA team as a customer site specialist Oct. 1 to begin interfacing with parts managers and help execute the depot's programs.

"I'm now involved in the forecasting of parts, working with the program managers to ensure they have enough parts," said Borders.

A counterpart to Ballard, Mike Kelley was hired as a CSR here with over 17 years of practice working with DLA in other parts of the country. Before coming to the depot, Kelley was responsible for DLA oversees operations.

Having grown up in Calhoun County, he said he realizes the significance of the depot to the Army and to the local community.

"I've seen the importance of what is done here at the depot," said Kelley. "I want to be in a position to make a difference not just for the depot but for the warfighter."

Mark Moran, a DLA contract buyer from Battle Creek, Mich., started his permanent stint here Nov. 9. According to Ballard, Moran will focus on national stock numbers that affect ANAD and help expedite parts overnight.

In addition to Ballard's three-year post as a CSR, a customer account specialist and an acquisition specialist from the Defense Supply Center Columbus, Ohio, each worked a temporary duty stint with Ballard over the past year, assisting ANAD parts managers with ordering and receiving production supplies.

DLA Director Lt. Gen. Robert Dail began embedding account specialists at customer sites around the globe last year so DLA could react to requests much quicker than before, according to an article on the agency's website. DLA provides distribution services to all branches of the military.

And depot workers said they welcome the hiring of additional DLA forward support team members.

"DLA hiring more staff members to work here provides us better support. And it helps because, before this, Dave (Ballard) would have to deal with all vehicle systems here, and the extra people located here helps out a lot since we have so much work going on," said Keith Echols, a depot production management specialist for the M1A1 family of vehicles.

Echols said he meets regularly with DLA representatives to review backorder parts and the maintenance material request suspense file. When the depot notices a program approaching a scheduled deadline, the DLA staff in the depot's production area stands ready to help.

If DLA cannot meet the production schedule, the depot orders parts from other sources, fabricates the parts, or conducts a local purchase buy, according to Echols.

The DLA forward support team here supports all of the programs between the logistics agency and the depot. Kelley said the concept of embedding DLA customer service representatives with the customer provides an opportunity to better leverage DLA corporate capabilities.

"We're trying to get ahead of the parts curve in the support of ANAD. We're closer to the action, better able to support the Soldier either in Iraq or at ANAD," said Ballard.