DLA Troop Support Clothing and Textiles industry event affirms strong partnerships with military customers, vendors

By Mikia Muhammad DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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Strong partnerships was the central theme of a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Clothing and Textiles military service and industry engagement event Nov. 6-7 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

More than 800 representatives from DLA, the military services and American clothing and textiles industry attended the fifth annual Joint Advanced Planning Brief for Industry.

“Strong partnerships: that’s exactly what this event is about,” DLA Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Gavin Lawrence said. “It’s about forging strong partnerships between DLA as integrator of multiple supply chains, the [military] services that place the demands on DLA, and our partners in industry that provide the materiel in an expeditious manner to our warfighters.”

The two-day event provided an opportunity for DLA and the military services to brief industry partners on future requirements and business opportunities for clothing and individual equipment.

“I’m excited at the opportunity this forum presents,” Lawrence said. “We have the ability with our service teammates and partners in industry to achieve a lot in terms of dialogue that can be meaningful to what we focus on at DLA, at that’s support to the warfighter.”

Army Deputy Program Executive Officer for Soldier Ross Guckert, provided the event’s keynote address, and discussed the organization’s mission, vision and priorities, and how industry can help achieve them.

“Our intent here is to make sure you’re aiming at the right target,” Guckert said. “We get you guys aiming in the right direction to help us solve our problems.”

Representatives from other military program offices also presented ways industry can assist with future requirements, including Marine Corps Systems Command, Navy Exchange Service Command and the Air Force Humans Systems Program Office.

For the Marine Corps, item improvements industry can help with include lighter and more flexible body armor and plates, flame resistant fabrics and maternity uniforms, described Marine Corps Lt. Col. Andrew Konicki, the Clothing and Equipment for Infantry Combat Equipment program manager at MARCOSYSCOM.

C&T’s director, Air Force Col. Joseph Elkins, also emphasized the theme of industry assistance towards improvements.

“What I want to remind [our industry partners] is, anything you see that we can do better, faster, harder, stronger in your commercial customer base, let us know,” Elkins said.

Lawrence described how industry has already helped improve the supply chain, by highlighting DLA’s successes from fiscal year 2019, including materiel availability, one of the key metrics DLA measures.

“When a customer places an order, [materiel availability is] having the items on hand to fill that requirement,” Lawrence explained. “We got up to the 90th percentile in fiscal 2019 and our [DLA] director has given us the additional challenge in fiscal 2020 to see if we can get that up to 93rd percent for our materiel availability.”

Lawrence also described C&T successes from fiscal 2019, including helping the Air Force transition to the operational camouflage pattern utility uniform and providing Berry Compliant athletic footwear to Air Force and Navy recruits for the first time, with Army and Marine Corps receiving the footwear in the first quarter of fiscal 2020.

“We absolutely could not have achieved what we did without the relationships and strong partnerships that we have,” Lawrence said.

In addition to briefing about upcoming requirements, the JAPBI also provided vendors who may be new to government contracting, an opportunity to learn how to navigate the solicitation process, said Donna Pointkouski, JAPBI event curator and C&T’s Strategic Material Sourcing Division chief. Pointkouski gave anecdotes of vendors who have been successful in securing contract awards due to their participation at previous JAPBI events.

“If you’re a new vendor, I offer these stories as encouragement that it is possible, and [encourage you] to meet as many people as you can while you’re here,” Pointkouski said.

A new DLA video, ‘Fabric of America,’ also debuted at this year’s JAPBI, highlighting the ‘life’ of an Army combat uniform from cotton to recruit issuance.

“We wanted to create something that highlights the complexity of the supply chain,” Pointkouski said. “This video proves that we, DLA and the services together, can’t support the warfighter without you, and without your employees.”