Demand of textile items could rise, DLA director tells industry officials

By Chris Erbe

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In support of Department of Defense priorities to restore military readiness and strengthen partnerships, Defense Logistics Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams addressed about 100 textile industry executives at the 16th Annual Meeting of the National Council of Textile Organizations in Washington, D.C., March 19. The theme was “American Textiles – Building Stronger Local Supply Chains.”

The members of NCTO manage the organizations that provide the military services with textile products such as uniforms, backpacks, helmet covers, tents and body armor. The clothing and textile industry performs approximately $2 billion of business with DoD, primarily through DLA Troop Support in Philadelphia.

Williams updated the group on current and future uniform changes to the Air Force Operational Camouflage Pattern Uniform, the Marine Corps Female Dress Coat, the Navy Cold Weather Parka and the Army Improved Hot Weather Uniform. He also addressed the rollout of government-furnished athletic footwear to military recruits, which was directed by the National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal 2017.

Looking toward the future, Williams said, “We see a potential for higher operational tempo for the services, which correlates to increased demand in areas that are specific to you.”

In 2018, DLA published its Industry Engagement Plan, outlining its commitment to building stronger industry partnerships and maintaining the supply chains the military depends on. Early engagement, continuous communication and exchanges of information with industry are major parts of that plan.

“My appearance today is a chance to maintain open communication with you,” Williams said. “In my experience, you can’t surge relationships.”

Williams also thanked clothing and textile representatives for their support and flexibility during hurricanes Maria and Florence, when several manufacturers overcame extreme challenges to maintain production and provide needed items to affected areas. He also expressed his appreciation for NCTO’s continued partnership in support of the nation’s warfighters.