As COVID-19 continued to impact every aspect of daily life, service members working on the 59th Presidential Inauguration adapted to unprecedented circumstances.
Tasked with interviewing and recommending support personnel, negotiating contracts, securing lodging and transportation, and managing an inventory of supplies and meals, Reserve supply officers and logistics specialists answered the call and met the mission despite numerous obstacles posed by the pandemic.
“This truly aligned to what we do as a Supply Corps — total support in the face of challenges,” said Rear Adm. Jacquelyn McClelland, Commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group.
The Supply Corps had to be creative and maximize resources to ensure the logistical needs of the inauguration were met, but they also benefitted from the experience and expertise of Sailors who worked inaugural events in previous years.
“In my role as senior planner for the 59th Presidential Inauguration, I quickly drew from both lessons learned and forward planning experience to coordinate with base installations, Navy Facilities and Engineering Command, and the Navy Supply Systems Command,” said Cmdr. George Lawton, a veteran of logistics support efforts for inaugurations in 2013 and 2017, who continued this year to project and analyze the support level needed while providing cost savings for National Security Special Events (NSSE).
“Keeping the sailors safe while expecting them to execute the mission was another big challenge,” said McClelland, who noted that as an additional safety measure many Reserve Sailors had to comply with Restriction of Movement (ROM) guidelines — a task made more difficult by the scarcity of on-base billeting.
“We lost a significant portion of our lodging on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling due to the need for quarantine rooms,” said Chief Logistics Specialist Moses C. Rogers, logistics chief for the Navy Inaugural Liaison Office. “This began our search for other lodging options, which eventually led to the use of off-base contract berthing for our support personnel.”
Rogers assisted in securing a $240,000 lodging contract for Reserve support personnel and tracked lodging for approximately 115 personnel across six berthing sites.
The Supply Corps team also took advantage of the virtual environment to carry out its mission.
“Despite the pandemic challenges, advancement in technology provided the platform for the team to deliver by supporting the mission remotely (from) all over the world,” said McClelland.
“(Video teleconference services allowed) virtual meetings, collaboration and discussions that helped execute the mission.”
Proving themselves a team of versatile and inventive logisticians, the Supply Corps maximized their experience, skills, technology, manpower and network of resources to meet the inauguration’s supply and demand needs.