Lessons from the Operation Iraqi Freedom Theater Distribution Center to Improve Your Supply Chain Operations

Think your distribution operations have been put to the test? A closer look at the U.S. Army's multi-million-square-foot distribution center that was established in Kuwait two years ago to support Operation Iraqi Freedom provides some insight for...


The final lesson that we will discuss is the concept of Command and Control for your operations. Regardless of the size of your organization, there has to be someone in charge. And, there has to be a clear chain of command or leadership. This is important because employees need to know who to go to if they cannot find their immediate supervisor someone who has the capability to make a decision. It is also important for the people in the chain of command to get out of their offices and see what is going on in the operations. One of my favorite techniques in Operation Iraqi Freedom was to get on a forklift and move supplies, move orders and load trucks. You may not need to go to that extreme, but you do need to see and be seen by the folks who work for you. The key with Command and Control is that if placed in charge, take charge. Lead by example, control the operations, but take care of your employees.

These are only a few of the lessons learned in the course of operating the Theater Distribution Center in Kuwait. The lessons that we learned in setting up and operating the center can and should be applicable to your operations, regardless of whether you operate a distribution center, warehouse or manufacturing operation. Learn from our mistakes and efforts to improve your operations. The key to our success was the quality of the soldiers working tirelessly to do whatever it took to support our customers. Take care of your people, learn from our lessons and I will see you at the top.

About the Author: Col. Joseph L. Walden, a former Supply & Demand Chain Executive

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