Story by Alexandria Brimage-Gray on 08/20/2019The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Subsistence supply chain, in partnership with DLA Distribution Norfolk, Virginia, provides support to the Air Force's annual re-supply mission, Pacer Goose Sustainment 2019, at Thule Air Base,
During the months of July and August each year, the Pacer Goose mission occurs to ensure much needed food supplies arrive and waste is removed from the remote base.
Patricia Scott, garrison feeding division chief considers the mission critical for her team.
"The exercise, which operates every summer, is an opportunity to ship by sea-van a container of our longer-shelf life frozen items, heavier canned items, and dry items to fill up Thule's storage spaces for the upcoming winter in a more economical manner," she said.
Cost savings to the customer is a benefit of the mission.
Throughout the year, Scott's team coordinates with DLA Distribution Norfolk to airlift approximately 20,000 pounds of perishable and non-perishable food items to air base every week at an estimated cost of $1.50 a pound, she said.
"But during Pacer Goose, the cost of a container is about $3,000, and can fit an estimated 30,000 pounds," Scott said.
DLA Distribution Marine Cargo Specialist Isai J. Vazquez says the goal of the mission is to provide a year's worth of sustainment material to Thule Air Base during the small but critical window for the region.
"We send the ship this time of year because the ice at the port there is at its weakest," Vazquez said. "Once we finish loading the ship in Norfolk, it will meet up with a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker. Once they rendezvous, the icebreaker leads into the port."
Scott describes the mission as Christmas in July for her customer.
"Along with other menu items, the Subsistence prime vendor shipped 3,975 cases of turkeys, beef shoulders, pies, cakes and other items to the remote base in preparation for their upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday meals," she said.
Unofficial talks between the Air Force, the Military Sealift Command and both DLA entities began last December, but it was not until March that the initial planning started to ensure a mid-July departure out of Norfolk.
Larry Munoz, DLA Troop Support customer service specialist said there is a combination of support that goes into this mission. MSC contracts the vessel and DLA Distribution loads it at Naval Station Norfolk, however Troop Support's role is most critical to the success of the mission, he said.
"My role at DLA Troop Support is to coordinate with our customer at Thule, ensuring that they provide the purchase order on time, Munoz said. "And [coordinating with] the Subsistence prime vendor to ensure that they do not foresee any issues with the fill rate for the amount of product that is being required, and a timeline to deliver so that nothing falls through the cracks."