DLA Land and Maritime Commander hosts industry leaders for strategic supply chain discussions

By Michael Jones DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. John Palmer and members of his leadership team hosted key decision makers from eight of Land and Maritime’s Strategic Supplier Alliance partners June 18 at the Defense Supply Center Columbus. SSAs are proven partners who’re committed to working with Land and Maritime to provide superior logistics support to America’s military services.

The objective of what has now become an annual gathering was to create an unrestricted crossflow of communication between DLA Land and Maritime and SSA partners that visions and implements innovative logistics processes designed to produce contracts that enhance warfighter support.

Palmer opened the meeting with brief introductions and covered the agenda, expectations and responsibilities of everyone participating.  “We’ve got a really good opportunity… to speak as partners and industry co-equals to get an idea of what we’re doing to collectively support the warfighter, and that’s what we’re in the business of doing,” Palmer said.

In addressing viewpoints from the warfighter perspective Palmer stressed the strategic importance of supplier partnerships in ensuring the nation’s security. “So we need to remember that the message is the parts and ordnance you provide whenever we have a major military engagement may very well be the parts and ordnance we must have to win the engagement,” Palmer said.  

DLA Director of Acquisition Matthew Beebe attended the roundtable and shared some insight into the DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams’ focus areas. “The director asked me to make sure I mentioned the energy he’s directing to his focus areas of Warfighter Readiness, Defense Reform and Audit Advancement,” Beebe said. After providing details to those areas Beebe added that supply chain security is getting lots of attention and the relationships being strengthened during venues like this help advance the services’ readiness initiatives.

The group dove into more detailed conversations about DLA Land and Maritime operations and identified military service trends and support requirements that are driving strategic procurement decisions. Multiple discussions generated interactive engagement, and identified issues impacting shared industrial logistics challenges in providing parts and equipment to intended military customer.

Topics central to industry leadership and DLA included cyber compliance and funding requirements, budget consistency as it drives demand, sustainment efforts, timeliness of delivery, use of shared metrics, automated versus manual contracting awards, structuring and use of long term contracts, additive manufacturing and service forecasting reliability.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. James Boozer, USA chief of staff for the National Defense Industrial Association, reviewed the 2018 Defense Industrial Base Study and revealed some of the internal and external forces impacting the health and resiliency of the nation’s defense industrial base.

As he worked his way through the study inputs and questions initiated within the group prompted deeper discussion. “Our defense industrial base should be considered an extension of our military force structure,” Boozer said emphasizing its importance.

Constructive exchanges around the table evaluated using the proper contracting tools or processes to achieve weapons system sustainment and meeting other tactical needs expressed by the warfighter.

Some of the acquisition strategies DLA Land and Maritime uses to support industrial activity and capability include products like performance-based logistics, corporate, commercial and long term contracts. Considerable conversation among participants underscored the ambiguity of what timeframe actually defines long term contracts and prompted the discussions of risk sharing with industry partners in their usage.

The Internet Bid Board System Business Opportunities tool was discussed as an additional procurement method for doing business with DLA. Though most of the businesses present use DIBBS, there was dialogue that centered on incorporating improvements to make the system more responsive. 

Palmer summarized the gathering by identifying the positive cross talk and the good information it generated. “As allies and SSAs, the people in this room really do lead the way in supporting the weapons systems that really matter,” Palmer said. “Where your organizations go collectively in their performance reflects how Land and Maritime and the warfighters fare. Material Availability across the board, nearly every weapon system and across both Land and Maritime supply chains is above 90% for the first time in a long time.”

Palmer concluded the roundtable by offering an observation that the macro and micro activities performed in logistics support to the military services make a difference. “Thanks for the fantastic work that’s going on with the SSAs, it makes us all work a little harder if we keep in mind the warfighters who will fight the next fight,” Palmer said.