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NEWS | July 6, 2020

Army Sustainment Command - Army Reserve Element deploys integration cell for COVID-19 response

By Maj. Michael Nastari and Lt. Col. John Watson Army Reserve Sustainment Command

During the initial outbreak of COVID-19, a specialized acquisition unit from the Army Reserve Sustainment Command mobilized for its unique acquisition, logistics and strategic coordination skills.

The Army Sustainment Command - Army Reserve Element provided an integration cell to ensure timely and accurate communication and shared situational awareness between the Joint Force Land Component Commander for U.S. Northern Command and ASC. This allowed the commanding general of ASC and his senior staff to have up to date information regarding the logistics of the COVID-19 national response. This operating picture aided rapid decision making in providing critical personal protective equipment, hospital equipment and support teams to Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration installations throughout the country.

The cell deployed to Joint Base San Antonio from Illinois, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Austin, Texas, in April 2020. The phased employment of the team provided relief for senior ASC staff who had deployed a month earlier. The team quickly integrated with ASC, the United States Army Reserve 377th Theater Support Command and the JFLCC logistics planning and operations divisions to provide seamless coordination between the JFLCC and the logistics enterprise. A portion of the team, Maj. Melissa Lutrick, Lt. Col. Drew Robertson (promotable) and Col. Hank Askins is still operating at JBSA as of July 2020 and plans to maintain a presence in the short term future. Lt. Col. Watson has tied in with the ASC operations staff at Rock Island, IL to provide continuity as the team phases back to their home units.

“The ability of a USAR Colonel and his team to step in and take up the mantle of representing an active duty 2-star command in a joint environment shows the versatility of the Reserve logisticians. This wasn’t a training exercise; we were front and center when it counted and we showed ASC, AMC and all of our partners that ARSC is ready to answer the call.” Said Watson.

One of the cell’s priorities is planning for a natural disaster while continuing to operate in a COVID environment. This year is expected to be an active hurricane season, and the danger is exacerbated by the anticipated requirements of isolation and quarantine facilities and restrictions to travel.

In the summer timeframe, Askins will represent the ASC commander in the general officer level exercise of a hurricane landfall scenario. Working with ASC planners in Rock Island, the team has developed and revised the ASC playbook for responding quickly in support of recovery efforts while battling COVID-19.

”The close working relationship between the Army Sustainment Command and its Army Reserve Element has enabled ASC to play a critical and sustained role in setting logistical support for the theater while continuing prepare for potential future DSCA Operations.” Askins stated. As a critical strategic enabler ASC has played a critical role during COVID operations and stands ready to continue this support in the complex pandemic environment.

“ASC-ARE is a unit in constant transition” said Watson, discussing recruiting efforts in the unit. “We put experts into unique missions all over the world and we’re looking for leaders to represent the unit.”