The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, 700 Robbins Ave., on Sept. 23 dedicated its headquarters building in memory of a local historical figure as a symbol of its workforce.
DLA Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Eric P. Shirley presided over the ceremony honoring Israel Whelen, Purveyor of Public Supplies in Philadelphia from 1800-1806 and former proprietor of Nitre Hall in Haverford, relating his description of duties in preparations for the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the modern workforce and the 222 years of logistics excellence rooted in the city.
“What started as one man’s mission has evolved into a team of over 2,000-plus professionals. The job description and results are the same: Provide what is needed, when it’s needed, where it’s needed, warfighter first,” Shirley said.
Whelen was issued funding by the federal government to requisition supplies from local industry and the Schuylkill Arsenal, a predecessor to DLA Troop Support, to supply the expedition. This mission – receipt of requirements and funding from federal partners – has persisted in Philadelphia since, now under the auspices of DLA Troop Support.
Shirley praised DLA Troop Support’s professional workforce as “the ones in the background” enabling warfighters and federal partners by providing the material they need to accomplish their respective missions, especially over the last 18 months.
“At any given time in this past month, you could tune into the news [and] hear reports about warfighters and federal agencies like [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and [the Department of Health and Human Services] and even the White House. You could hear about the impacts of a pandemic that continue to rage in our country. You could hear about the impacts of hurricanes, wildfires, contingency operations like the accelerated drawdown in Afghanistan … just like Israel Whelen more than 200 years ago, the DLA Troop Support professionals are the ones in the background …,” Shirley said.
The ceremony concluded with a ceremonial unveiling of the plaque affixed to the headquarters’ lobby and a small, socially distanced reception.
DLA Troop Support supplies America’s armed forces with $19 billion annually of food, uniforms, protective equipment, medicine and medical supplies, repair parts, and construction and equipment.
As a Department of Defense combat support agency, DLA provides the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, other federal agencies and joint and allied forces with a variety of logistics, acquisition and technical services. The agency sources and provides nearly 100 percent of the consumable items America’s military forces need to operate, from food, fuel and energy, to uniforms, medical supplies and construction and barrier equipment. DLA also supplies more than 85 percent of the military’s spare parts. ••