The Defense Logistics Agency is assisting U.S. Southern Command’s COVID-19 relief efforts in a number of countries in their area of responsibility through DoD’s Humanitarian Assistance Program, in addition to their ongoing support of national efforts.
Since receiving the initial request on May 29, 2020, DLA Troop Support’s Construction and Equipment supply chain has provided 24 field hospitals to SOUTHCOM, who donated them to 11 countries within their AOR. And more are on the way for 2021 through the Special Operational Equipment, Tailored Logistics Support Program according to the program’s team chief.
“The program allows emergency orders to be turned around in as little as a few hours, and routine orders to be competed and ready to be funded within three days,” said John Cuorato, chief of C&E’s SOE TLSP integrated supply team. “Additionally, vendors on the contract are logistics and product experts. Our vendors know how to solve logistical challenges quickly and efficiently.”
That expertise proved useful as the logistics of moving the large tents and their components from the manufacturer to the end user came into play.
“The vendor knew how to work with the manufacturer upon award, knew how to get things into the SOUTHCOM AOR and knew how to coordinate between different stakeholders in the logistics chain,” Cuorato said. “That’s their bread and butter, and that allowed C&E to leverage that capability to get these items to the customer extremely quickly and at a lower cost.”
The vendor’s industry know-how, paired with SOUTHCOM’s collaborative relationship with partner nations and C&E’s customer operations team’s professional capabilities, enabled the request to be completed on time with many of the hospital tents being delivered ahead of schedule, Cuorato said.
“Our counterparts at SOUTHCOM were communicating with embassies, partner nation officials, U.S. officials, the manufacturer and the vendor. They worked with us closely every step of the way,” Cuorato said.
To keep everyone on the same page, C&E set up frequent and recurring coordination calls between the stakeholders to communicate and handle challenges quickly and efficiently. When issues occurred, like needing additional funding for aircraft transport, the team was able to adapt for success.
“C&E’s customer facing team excels at working issues like this with our customers,” Cuorato said. “They worked diligently to obtain the additional funds needed for massive air shipments so we could get these hospitals in the hands of the folks that needed them as quickly as possible. It was a true team effort from start to finish.”
C&E Director Navy CAPT Jacqueline Meyer applauded the efforts of the supply chain’s personnel.
“I am proud of the efforts of everyone involved in providing this much needed relief to our partner nations in the Caribbean and Latin America,” Meyer said. “C&E has been tirelessly supporting the COVID-19 response efforts from the beginning. This is yet another example of our steadfast commitment to assist whenever and wherever we can.”
The hospitals will be used to support the partner nation’s community healthcare systems’ response to high volumes of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Each field hospital can fit about 40 beds, and is equipped with generators, air conditioning and working space for medical staff.
Costa Rica, Jamaica, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Panama, Guatemala and Uruguay have received field hospitals to date.
A second set of deliveries are in the works to provide an additional 24 hospitals to countries in need.
“I think it is a testament to C&E that the customer was so satisfied with the level of service that they came back for additional items,” Cuorato said. “To me, that’s the best compliment a customer can give and we are thrilled to be able to do everything we can to support such an important mission.”