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Talisman Sabre is the ninth exercise of its kind to date, consisting of over 5,000 joint forces from the U.S., Australia, Japan, South Korea and Canada, training in a wide variety of scenarios aimed at enhancing interoperability and strategic partnerships in the Western Pacific. NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka served as the primary logistics enabler during Talisman Sabre 21, in which Sailors, Marines and U.S. civilians partnered with Australian Defence Forces (ADF) to support the multinational team. Participating units were in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines for this year’s operation, limiting the number of logisticians on the ground as compared to previous years.
“Multinational military exercises such as Talisman Sabre require dedicated, flexible logisticians focused on winning results,” said Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos, Commander, NAVSUP. “Our team once again prevailed over the challenges that accompany vast distances and pandemic constraints to effectively deliver products and services to our mission partners.”
Months before Talisman Sabre 21 began, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka’s operations department coordinated with Commander, Pacific Fleet and ADF partners to ensure personnel would arrive in Australia in full compliance with local COVID-19 protocols, requiring travel free of contact with the general public and a quarantine period of 14 days upon arrival to limit COVID-19 risks.
As entry protocols were sorted out, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka brought in the Enterprise Logistics Response Team (ELRT), to begin training with Automated Manifesting Systems-Tactical (AMS-TAC), a vital piece of gear that allows Logistics Support Representatives (LSR) to receive and dispatch cargo to units operating in the area. After a series of training sessions with NAVSUP Weapons Systems Support, LSRs were prepared to maintain visibility in worldwide cargo tracking systems throughout the exercise. Another group of LSRs began familiarizing themselves with the ELRT satellite communications (SATCOM) kit, equipment allowing LSRs on the ground to contact anyone from any location.
After arriving and clearing quarantine requirements, the ERLT consisting of nine active duty LSRs and two U.S. civilian deployable contracting officers (DKO) established a logistics hub in Townsville, Australia, 3,800 miles from their headquarters in Yokosuka, Japan. The LSRs served as the boots-on-ground oversight for port services and replenishment-at-sea (RAS) loadouts to USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE 3), which stayed at anchorage to limit COVID-19 risks associated with pulling into port.
Pandemic challenges were persistent throughout NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka’s mission. NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka’s site director in Sydney was ordered to perform duties remotely, due to local travel restrictions caused by the emerging Delta variant. Adjusting to this, LSRs fielded the ELRT SATCOM kit they familiarized themselves with months earlier, using it to provide updates to and receive orders from headquarters in Yokosuka.
The nine LSRs loaded nearly 270 pallets containing general stores, food provisions and over 4,000 pounds of mail aboard Alan Shepard via cargo barge. These essential materials were transferred to deployed ships operating off the coast of Australia, including USS America (LHA 6), USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) and USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204). Successfully leveraging their newly acquired skills with AMS-TAC, LSRs on the ground were able to quickly generate cargo-on-hand reports to share with the ships, allowing the ships to track what was in stock and what was pending transfer.
After loadouts and RAS operations were completed, it appeared that the LSRs’ mission was coming to a close until a last minute CASREP was delivered to Townsville—parts for an F-35B lighting fighter aircraft aboard America. Since these high priority requirements arrived after the Alan Shepard loadout, the LSRs had to find another way to get the parts distributed. Working with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked aboard America, helicopters were sent from America’s flight deck to Royal Australian Air Force Base Townsville, allowing NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka’s LSRs to transfer the parts.
“When our team is able to deliver high priority material through the pipeline, utilizing our resources, partners and assets, it gives us a sense of satisfaction,” said Chief Logistics Specialist Mitchilline Lucas. “It feels great knowing our efforts resulted in a quick and effective transfer of materials, enabling warfighter readiness downrange.”
DKOs began preparations for Talisman Sabre 21 operations as early as March 2021, by securing U.S. Navy and U.S. Army warrants to permit them to make purchases on behalf of the U.S. government. Through a series of trainings, certifications and communications with the ADF on the needs of participating units, DKOs grew proficient in the ADF’s contracting system and Acquisition Cross Service Agreement – Global Automated Tracking & Reporting System (AGATRS), the U.S. Army’s contracting system, preparing to meet the needs of participating units throughout the exercise.
From their quarantine locations, the two DKOs delivered logistics support in the form of materials and two requests from Alan Shepard for a scheduled anchorage off the coast of Townsville. The DKOs coordinated forklifts, pallets, pallet jacks, packing materials, mobile light units, trucks, cargo vans and a cargo barge, which was used to bring essential supplies, provisions, parts and mail to Alan Shepard.
After NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka DKOs completed quarantine obligations, their mission shifted to meeting the U.S. Army’s requirements, joining their contracting cell team. NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka’s DKOs assisted the U.S. Army in fulfilling Army requirements, including transportation and husbanding services, reconciling up to 500 invoices and conducting closeouts. The DKOs also assisted to ensure all required documentation was in place with the Army’s paperless contracting file. As the exercise came to a close, DKOs ensured that contracts with local vendors were in place to move the safe redeployment of U.S. military and civilian personnel participating in Talisman Sabre 21, by securing mass transportation to get to their designated departure locations. DKOs arranged busses to transport personnel out of the country, amounting to seven days of troop movement from three different airports. This was a protective measure to prevent U.S. military and civilian personnel from coming into contact with the general public.
“We played an essential role in Talisman Sabre 21 with collaborative efforts from the contracting cell team to source a variety of complex requirements,” said Roxan Boado, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka DKO. “Each service component brought unique experience to the table to ensure success of the exercise.”
While NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka’s personnel were forward-deployed in quarantine, additional LSR and contracting personnel back in headquarters provided support from Yokosuka by making travel arrangements, checking on the ELRT’s health and quarantine status, verifying funding, managing records and facilitating communications between mission partners and the ELRT. The cross coordination between the deployed team and the team in Yokosuka ensured the success of the command’s mission.
Despite COVID-19 requirements, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka has been meeting ashore and afloat requests from mission partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region—simultaneously backing a carrier strike group and an amphibious ready group from its site in Guam, launching the Worldwide Expeditionary Multiple Award Contract to support naval expeditionary forces in austere locations globally and assisting USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in completing its maintenance availability on time—repeatedly overcoming COVID-19 barriers. Over the past year, the command has been taking a metrics-based approach in the products and services it offers, analyzing how to optimize its outputs to best enable warfighting readiness in the Indo-Pacific.
“For more than a year, the pandemic has been part of this command’s daily operations. I can say with confidence that this workforce has professionally adapted to it,” said Capt. Edward Pidgeon, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka commanding officer. “Despite the pandemic of today, or the unforeseen challenges of tomorrow, our team of professionals will always get to ‘yes’ for our mission partners.”
NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka is one of eight FLCs under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, NAVSUP employs a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel. NAVSUP and the Navy Supply Corps conduct and enable supply chain, acquisition, operational logistics and Sailor & family care activities with our mission partners to generate readiness and sustain naval forces worldwide to prevent and decisively win wars. Learn more at www.navsup.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/navsup and https://twitter.com/navsupsyscom.
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