Rapid Deployment Team assists ARNORTH medical units supply needs

By Diana Dawa Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Public Affairs

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Charlie Hughley wears two hats these days. In addition to planning deployments for Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Reservists, he’s also a member of DLA’s Rapid Deployment Team Blue, which was activated mid-March to support U.S. Army North as part of U.S. Northern Command’s response to COVID-19 on behalf of the Defense Department.

Hughley is helping the 13-member team determine supply needs for ARNORTH medical units mobilizing to assist hard-hit communities. He’s expediting and tracking delivery for items like respirators, protective gowns and gloves for the 337th Theater Sustainment Command, as well as the 3rd, 4th and 13th Expeditionary Support Commands. 

Supplies he helps provide are also being distributed to communities through ARNORTH and U.S. Northern Command coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And the team continues responding to requests for information on items like medical grade oxygen and bottled-water ordering processing.

“We educate our customers on the logistics process, how we support them [and] give them the information they need to put [orders] in so we can support them better,” he said.

Hughley is deployed in-place and working from his home in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, though some of his teammates are working onsite at ARNORTH and other locations. To expand the team’s reach amid travel restrictions, the RDT also sought volunteer support from DLA employees who are co-located with deployed units in places like Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and San Antonio, Texas.

“These are people who are not normally a part of the RDT, but they’re great Americans who have volunteered to help. They come to the RDT as an added value because, in their normal day-to-day job, they’re embedded with our customers anyway,” he said. 

As manager of DLA Distribution’s Expeditionary Logistics Reserve Program, Hughley is also integrating reservists into DLA Distribution processes to help the nationwide response in other ways.

“Putting on my Joint Reserve Force hat means I am responsible for the accountability and tracking of personnel, ensuring they are ready to deploy, trained and ready to go,” he said, adding that the job includes tracking whether reservists are exposed to COVID-19 and assessing the impact to DLA missions.

At times, Hughley’s usual eight-hour workday extends to 12 to 14 hours, matching the pace of some of his customers who are on a 24/7 schedule. He said he’s driven by a strong work ethic and desire to support warfighters. 

“I truly believe one’s work ethic defines their character and moral compass," Hughley said. “It is easy to set a standard of completeness when you believe in the cause. At that point, it is no longer considered work; it is for the betterment of the cause, which is ‘the warfighter comes first.’”