DLA, military services brief clothing, equipment support plans to industry partners

By Mikia Muhammad DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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A military color guard marched into the hotel ballroom to open a meeting hosted by the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Clothing and Textiles supply chain with their civilian industry partners Nov. 15.

The color guard rendered honors during the national anthem, which served as a reminder to meeting participants of the warfighters they support, the event organizer said.

“Whether you’re with the government and you’re designing items or awarding contracts, it sometimes feels like you’re just pushing paper around,” said Donna Pointkouski, C&T’s strategic material sourcing division chief. “Or if you’re with industry and you’re managing production lines … it’s not just a job, you’re working to support the U.S. military.”

The third annual Joint Advanced Planning Brief for Industry was held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and attended by nearly 800  representatives from U.S. clothing and textiles manufacturers, the military services and the government.

“This event keeps getting bigger every year, and we hope it’s getting better too,” Pointkouski said.

The two-day meeting served as an opportunity for the government to expand partnerships with industry and provide transparency in the decision making process for military clothing and individual equipment, said Steve Merch, C&T’s director of supplier operations.

During the first day, the general session included presentations about industrial base issues, updates on several service programs and acquisition topics. Representatives from the Department of Commerce detailed a 2017 textile, apparel and footwear industrial base assessment, which described the strengths, challenges and capabilities of more than 560 U.S. vendors.

Representatives from the military services explained their future requirements and industry expectations. The goals, for example, the Marines Corps has for personal equipment are design, adjustability, modularity, and improved form, fit and function, said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher Madeline, program manager for infantry combat equipment .

“Whatever requirements come down, we’re taking a hard look to see what our sister services have and what we can leverage,” Madeline said. “What’s going to give us better products, delivered faster, [and] better cost? That’s the way of the future.”

The second day was comprised of breakout sessions on industry topics, including footwear, value management, accessories and camouflage uniforms. Guests were also able to address questions with DLA Troop Support Small Business Director Mike McCall, a Small Business Administration representative and DLA Troop Support service members.

“I think [the JAPBI] is a really important endeavor because it opens up dialogue,” said Army Col. Stephen Thomas, program manager for solider protection and individual equipment, Program Executive Office Soldier.