An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | March 6, 2023

DLA Land and Maritime forges partnerships at Tactical Wheeled Vehicles Conference

By Stefanie Hauck DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

Modernization, innovation, flexibility, collaboration and the role of industry filling gaps in the tactical wheeled vehicle supply chain were among the topics discussed at the annual National Defense Industrial Association’s Tactical Wheeled Vehicles Conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 27- March 1.

The conference theme, “Driving to 2030 and Beyond,” explored the relationships between industry, defense agencies and the military services in solving complex supply chain problems in the tactical wheeled vehicles space through the next decade.

The need to modernize while looking to bolster the efficiency and longevity of legacy systems was a key aspect to many discussions as well as addressing the need for current force readiness while innovating for the future.

“Where we are challenged daily is that we have to play in the legacy, enduring and modernization spaces,” Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Commander Army Brig. Gen. Gail Atkins said.

“In DLA, we have to operate in all the spaces. Because the fight does not stop tonight to let us modernize for tomorrow,” she added.

Atkins delivered a keynote speech during the conference’s first day, which also featured Army Brig. Gen. Luke Peterson, program executive officer, Army Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support; Marine Corps Col. John Gutierrez, portfolio manager, Logistics Combat Element Systems, Marine Corps Systems Command; Tim Goddette, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Sustainment; Mark Pickett, transfer program manager, SAE; Marine Corps Lt. Col. Alfredo Romero, program manager, Family of Special Operations Vehicles, U.S. Special Operations Command among others in the tactical wheeled vehicles space.

Atkins’ remarks followed Goddette’s presentation, “Army Acquisition, Looking to 2030.”

“We have to look at ways of adapting, how to match the resources with the capabilities and come up with programs that are going to be able to put the capability in our soldiers’ hands,” Goddette said. “You need to learn where to make the changes and make the changes quickly.”

And those solutions and support to the services are delivered by DLA Land and Maritime despite a shrinking defense industrial base and supply chain challenges.

“We all know that there have been unprecedented complexities that were revealed by the pandemic, not caused by it,” she told the audience of mostly industry partners and small business. “And each one of you in your own way have fought through those challenges and found a way to not only remain viable but to continue to be part of a really important industrial base.”

Balancing the needs of industry and small business while fulfilling the needs of DLA Land and Maritime customers is a focus now and in the future, Atkins said.  

“We must remain transparent and responsive to both our customers and to our vendor base,” she said. “That means being able to have honest, clear, discussions about where our challenges lie and to have space to work through them together.”

Business decisions at DLA Land and Maritime are risk informed and are made for force readiness, which is not always the best business case, but it is the right decision if it ensures that our warfighters will win, she emphasized.

“And that’s a difficult space to be in but it’s the reality that we have to be able to iterate and scale very, very quickly,” she said.

Contributing to DLA Land and Maritime’s continued success is being positioned alongside the services to be able to pivot quickly to meet readiness needs, she said. 

“At DLA, we have to balance not only where the services want to take their modernization,” she said.  “But at the same time, we have to improve in stride the effectiveness, the cost piece of improving our end-to-end supply chain not only at the wholesale level but at the retail level.  Because we are inside of the services space, providing direct support for that retail mission.”

Atkins mentioned the ongoing partnership with the Marine Corps Logistics Command as an example of this involvement. The establishment of a forward operating presence at Marine Corps Logistics Bases Albany, Georgia and Barstow, California, adds to an already robust portfolio of direct support, including a reparable detachment in Warren, Michigan that supports tactical wheeled vehicles and other presences throughout the United States doing the same for other weapons systems and platforms. She said incorporating emerging technologies and innovations is very important as well.

“We can’t turn our back on what was yesterday and think that it is not going to be part of the fight,” she said. “We have to figure out how to make what was old new again so that we can bridge ourselves not only to support the enduring fleet but to get to that modernized fleet that our services so desperately need.”

She used the joint light tactical vehicle expansion for the Army and Marine Corps as an example of modernization with an eye on the past through obsolescence management and sustainment engineering.

“The JLTV does not in totality provide to the total force the tactical wheeled vehicle capability they need,” she said. “And that tells me that we will continue to have Humvees and these legacy systems in the fight for years to come.”

And small business is key to the innovation and scalability the tactical wheeled vehicle sector needs to get ahead of these problems.

In Fiscal Year 22, Atkins said, 55% of the 360,000 contracts managed by DLA Land and Maritime, went to small business.

“They are the absolute engine of our country,” she said. “And we are very, very proud at Land and Maritime that we were able to meet and exceed all of our category goals for small business and we’ve pushed all of them, moved the goal bar up in 2023, and are very blessed to be on track for that.”

She told all in the room that it will take the whole tactical wheeled vehicle community to solve these problems proactively and collaboratively.

“I don’t think it can be understated the importance of having effective government, and commercial collaboration and communication,” she said.