We’ve all seen the photographs and videos of U.S. troops around the world enjoying their Thanksgiving meal.
Whether it’s sailors onboard a ship at sea, an Army unit deployed half-way round the world, a Marine Corps unit on maneuvers, or an Air Force Wing on the other side of the planet, military members get to enjoy Thanksgiving.
Service members around the world enjoy a holiday meal thanks to the hard work of the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support and its Subsistence supply chain.
Despite the effects, the COVID-19 pandemic is having on supply chains, planning, and communication, a dedicated workforce and strong relationships are the key ingredients that help DLA Troop Support get food out in time for the holiday.
“The holiday meal should look more normal this year, with in-person dining returning in many locations,” DLA Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Eric Shirley said. “I am so proud of the workforce here at Troop Support. They work tirelessly for months to make sure this meal happens. Their advance planning and communication with our vendors and customers prevented major delays in getting the ingredients necessary for that traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It truly encapsulates our dedication to the warfighter.”
The planning and preparation for the troops’ holiday meal starts as early as March at DLA Troop Support. Many ingredients for the meals are on hand at prime vendor locations by September, and the overseas locations start receiving high-volume items, like the turkeys and more than 192 tons of trimmings, in October.
For more than 50 years, DLA Troop Support has been providing traditional Thanksgiving food to field kitchens, dining facilities, and ship galleys in the United States, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Korea, Japan, Qatar, Philippines, Guam, Singapore, and other locations around the world where US service members are deployed.
“Thanksgiving is one of the most important meals we work on all year,” Army Col. Larry Dean, director of the Subsistence supply chain at DLA Troop Support said. “Our entire team works on it for months, and we don’t stop until the big day. Our team works hard, and I appreciate their dedication not only as the director of this supply chain, but as a proud member of the Army who has enjoyed these meals when I could not be home with my family. It means so much to have that taste of home on Thanksgiving when you can’t be there.”
This year, service members around the world received an estimated:
* 5,706 whole turkeys
* 59,666 pounds of roasted turkeys
* 99,187 pounds of beef
* 51,994 pounds of ham
* 43,767 pounds of shrimp
* 38,400 pounds of sweet potatoes
* 68,465 pounds of pies and cakes
* 23,461 gallons of eggnog
* And many other holiday treats
The Subsistence team worked diligently with regional vendors both locally and across the globe to ensure that military food service professionals had what they needed to prepare a festive holiday meal for those away from home this Thanksgiving.
“We are currently dealing with the same supply issues that the commercial industry is dealing with,” Robin Whaley, DLA Troop Support’s Subsistence chief of customer operations for the continental United States said. “We have been working with our vendors well in advance of the holiday to reduce chances that the necessary items won’t be available on the big day.”
DLA Troop Support supplies America’s armed forces with $21.5 billion annually of food, uniforms, protective equipment, medicine, medical supplies, construction, and equipment.
As the nation’s combat logistics support agency, DLA has been managing the global supply chain, from raw materials to end user disposition, for the U.S. military around the world for 60 years. Today, DLA also leverages our unique capabilities to support the growing whole-of-government mission with other federal, state, and local agencies and partner and allied nations.