Santa’s got nothing on the Defense Logistics Agency.
DLA Troop Support is providing 187 tons of holiday food, from the turkey and the trimmings down to the eggnog, to thousands of service men and women around the world for Christmas dinner – all without a sleigh.
“DLA Troop Support’s Subsistence supply chain has a history of providing meals around the world for the last 50 years,” said Robin Whaley, DLA Troop Support’s Subsistence Division Chief of OCONUS Customer Operations. “We provide meals to the military field kitchens, dining facilities, galleys and ships. It’s a tremendous logistical effort every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s important that our service men and women get to enjoy that traditional meal for the holidays.”
This year, the Subsistence supply chain team provided worldwide:
• 49,045 whole turkeys
• 57,784 pounds of roast turkey
• 85,609 pounds of beef
• 82,313 pounds of ham
• 32,268 pounds of shrimp
• 38,268 pounds of sweet potatoes
• 78,508 pounds of cakes and pies
• 17,659 gallons of eggnog
The Subsistence team started working in the spring with vendors both locally and across the globe to ensure military food service professionals will have what they needed to prepare a festive holiday meal for those away from home this Christmas.
That planning starts around the world at the same time, said Richard Morrow, a tailored logistics specialist with DLA Troop Support Europe and Africa. Most orders are placed with suppliers by June, he said.
In lieu of Santa’s sleigh, DLA Troop Support works with large teams to make sure the goods get to the tables on time, including DLA Troop Support Europe and Africa, DLA Troop Support Indo-Pacific, the military service branches, the U.S. Transportation Command and subsistence prime vendors.
“Thanks to the dedicated professionals of the DLA Troop Support Subsistence and the DLA Troop Support Europe and Africa team, in concert with multiple agencies, 105 bases were able to ensure 86,000 troops enjoyed a taste of home away from home,” said Master Sgt. Jessica Covington, customer liaison officer with DLA Troop Support Europe and Africa.
All Christmas items for Europe and Africa have been delivered, said Lauren Austin, customer operations branch chief for United States European Command and United States Central Command.
“We had product moving out of warehouses in Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Somalia and Niger for my region,” she said.
There was one last-minute requirement to support special forces in N’Djamenda, Chad, she said.
“They came to us asking for a holiday meal with no forecast submitted because they didn’t know they would be in the area,” she said. “We supported them with excess stock that our vendor had on hand that wasn’t needed to support current orders.”
The subsistence prime vendors start shipping items in late September and early October for Thanksgiving. In most instances, the food for Christmas ships at the same time, Morrow said. Shipments for larger quantities may be staggered, he said.
Morrow, who served in the Army, has been with DLA since 1996. He said it’s important to get these ingredients to troops around the world, so warfighters have that taste of home for the holidays.
“They’re overseas and at certain times deployed situations fighting for our freedom, therefore it’s important for their morale and general well-being for them to have the things they’re accustomed to,” he said.
Austin, who has been with DLA since 2019, agreed that it’s all about getting a little comfort and joy to the warfighters.
“Warfighters are sacrificing their lives,” she said. “Being away from home during the holiday season is difficult for anybody, but particularly so if you’re in a remote or austere location. To be able to give them a bit of home where they have their Christmas ham or pecan pie is really comforting and special to them.”