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News | March 28, 2024

DLA director outlines agency’s efforts to provide solutions as Army transforms

By Beth Reece

As the Army navigates a transformative era full of challenges like contested logistics and adversarial threats, the Defense Logistics Agency is working to match readiness and sustainment needs with global solutions, the agency’s director told Army and industry representatives March 26.

“Where the Department of Defense exists, DLA has to be as well,” Army Lt. Gen. Mark Simerly said during a fireside chat on integrating partnerships at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exhibition in Huntsville, Alabama.

The director outlined DLA's four-pronged framework for transforming DLA’s support. It includes people, precision, posture and partnerships.

Simerly said the agency’s workforce must understand current and future challenges through the warfighter’s lens and from a theater perspective. Cross-cultural relationships with joint forces and allies are also crucial in helping DLA understand operational conditions and requirements.

Historically, DLA’s support has been achieved with efficiency as a driving factor, he added, but success in current operational environments hinges on support that’s also resilient.

Simerly called DLA’s close ties with industry an enduring strength and said the agency’s ability to relay military requirements that are accurate, timely and actionable remains vital.

"We have to be able to partner with the services and the [combatant commands] to have a very precise view of requirements and then translate those with precision to industry. We can't afford to have vague, ambiguous requirements if we want to have specific performance on their part that's tied to a specific time, a specific place and in a specific way," he said.

Precision in how and where DLA stocks or moves supplies will help DOD afford effective and large-scale sustainment as well, Simerly continued.

Through its Digital-Business Transformation, DLA is developing information systems that enable it to share data with service and industry partners. The new Warehouse Management System, for example, connects warfighters with DLA’s distribution and disposal assets.

Simerly described the agency’s global posture, noting that subject matter experts in commodities like fuel and food are collocated with service and CCMD leaders, where they can influence decisions and connect warfighters to DLA capabilities. They also understand the complexities of operating in coalition environments.

“Our presence gives us the expertise so we know how to get in and how to get commodities in,” he said, adding that relationships with partners in areas including U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command allow the agency to negotiate the means to provide material in a given theater.

DLA is also weighing where the agency puts commodities around the world. In INDO-PACOM, DLA has 65 defense fuel support points, but leaders are assessing whether that’s sufficient.

“We are constantly reviewing opportunities for better positioning, and this is where precision comes in,” he said.

The agency’s strategic presence around the world allows it to move or pre-position material more economically and with limited resources, Simerly added, and that can result in better sustainment during contingency operations.

Addressing partnerships, the director called DOD’s reliance on private industry profound. He recommended that industry representatives work to understand the challenges of contested logistics so they can help shape better solutions. He also suggested they focus on data-sharing capabilities.

“How can you develop tools and best practices from the commercial realm that are tailored and customized for defense logistics use and also for the entire department?” he asked. “And as you design solutions, we really need solutions that can partner with other solutions and capabilities – not ones that are exclusive, that are isolated, but ones that can be employed from an open architecture standpoint.”

Other presentations and panel discussions at the AUSA symposium, which lasted through March 28, featured topics such as precision sustainment, multi-domain operations, industrial base modernization and sustainment data analytics.