On the sandy “playas” of Spain’s Atlantic coast, halfway between its border with Portugal to the northwest and the vital Gibraltar Strait and Mediterranean Sea to the southeast, lies the largest American military community in the country – Naval Station Rota.
The 6,100-acre Spanish-owned installation was constructed in 1953 and is home to about 35 tenant commands drawing an estimated 6,000 servicemembers, DOD civilians, family members and U.S. military retirees. The neighboring city of Rota itself is a smallish town, with about 30,000 permanent year-round residents that triples in size during the summer as Europeans flock to enjoy the sun and surf.
Attending to Rota’s military reverse logistics needs is the small staff of the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services site there, which primarily supports various forward deployed and visiting U.S. Navy ships, submarines and support ships. Permanent units include a Naval Surface Warfare facility, Personnel Support Detachment Rota, Marine Corps entities as well as Air Force units like the 725th Air Mobility Squadron. Rota also has a special role in the preparation and redeployment of the Navy-Marine Corps team’s Amphibious Ready Groups.
According to site leadership, they provide the standard DLA property disposal menu items, like “disposition, turn ins, Reutilization, Transfer, and Donation, warehousing, scrap removal, and troop support,” while averaging about 4,800 DTIDs processed annually.
An unusual recent property turn in they cited was a snowplow. In a place that essentially never dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit even in its chilliest months, snow equipment does seem like a bit of a head scratcher.
On the humanitarian assistance side of things, the site provided assistance to the OPERATION ALLIED REFUGE effort to evacuate American personnel and Afghan refugees during the conclusion of U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan. Rota personnel also worked with the Department of Defense Education Activity on the turn in of classroom furniture in 2021. Coordination included the removal of 10 truckloads of desks, chairs, computer tables, and shelving units originally valued at $260,000. Advanced communication with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Humanitarian Assistance Program resulted in the requisitioning of most of the items to partner nations in need.
Rota is part of Spain’s southernmost region, Andalucia. Its 500 miles of beaches, vineyards, olive orchards and sunflower fields attract vacationers who are treated to bullfights, festivals, flamenco shows and a temperate climate. The weather is described as Southern California-esque; very warm in the summer, still mildly warm in the winter.