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News | May 24, 2023

Logistics operations director engages with UK partners at Ministry of Defence conference

By Jacob Boyer, DLA Logistics Operations

The Defense Logistics Agency’s director of logistics operations represented the agency at SupportNet 23, a United Kingdom Ministry of Defence event focused on delivering greater supply chain resilience amid changes in the global geo-political environment May 18-19.

Navy Rear Adm. Doug Noble, who also serves as DLA’s commander of joint regional combat support, spoke on a panel, Delivering Resilience by Increasing Outputs, at the invitation of the Royal Navy’s Rear Adm. Andy Kyte, incoming chief of defence logistics and support for the UK MOD. Kyte conferred with DLA and Defense Department logistics partners in March in preparation for his new role.

“It is absolutely critical that we increase our dialogue with our allies and partners in this era of near-peer competition.” Noble said. “COVID-19 exposed the fragility of ‘just-in-time’ logistics, and the conflict in Ukraine has highlighted the criticality of robust, resilient supply chains. There are tradeoffs between efficiency and effectiveness; we need to strike the right balance to ensure our warfighters are ready.”

During the panel, which also included Louis Watt, managing director and partner with the Boston Consulting Group, and Chris Poulter, Increasing Defence Outputs lead in the UK MOD, Noble focused on DLA’s efforts to increase industrial base output and ensure supply chain resilience. His presentation focused on establishing clear metrics to create accountability for actions.

“Measuring outputs is critical,” he said. “If we measure the right output, it keeps us from confusing activity with results. It helps ensure that we are focused on enabling mission-capable weapons systems for the warfighter.”

Noble pointed to the constraints just-in-time logistics places on supply chain resilience: limited surge capacity and overreliance on commercial supply chains, which would be hampered in a contested environment.

“Logistics covers operational risk,” he said. “In this new era of contested logistics, we need to carefully assess our supply chains to be certain we understand where risks and vulnerabilities might lie. If we’re going to be ready for conflict or crisis response, we have to strengthen the industrial base, understand how we’re going to distribute supplies to the last tactical mile, and get ahead of forecasting complexity.”

After the conference, Noble spoke with Brig. Mike Caldicott, the UK MOD head of logistics transformation, and leaders at the Defence Fulfillment Centre in Donnington on the UK MOD’s distribution operations.