Troop Support hosts C&E industry partners to boost MRO program

By Michael Tuttle DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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A Defense Logistics Agency program that provides construction and facilities materials is a case of the supply chain applying best commercial practices to support the warfighter, the agency director said March 4 in Philadelphia.

“We don’t just buy plywood, stick it in a depot and make it available,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch said about the Maintenance, Repair and Operations program. “This is innovation and a good example of applying best industry practices.”

Busch was speaking during a Captains of Industry Day hosted by DLA Troop Support’s Construction and Equipment supply chain, which manages the MRO program. Representatives of the four vendors that provide global MRO support attended.

Strategic engagement is one of DLA’s strategic goals and the captains of industry days are an opportunity for DLA leaders and industry partners to meet and discuss how to best support their customers.

“We’re counting on you guys to be creative and innovative,” Army Brig. Gen. Charles Hamilton, DLA Troop Support commander, told MRO industry partners, “so we can continue our great support of the warfighter.”

Through the MRO program, C&E tailors support of commercial construction and facility-type supplies to customers around the world. The program has provided $9 billion worth of support since it began in 1996, according to Ralph Lund, C&E director of supplier operations.

Materials supplied through MRO have been used to build Ebola treatment units in Liberia, replace running tracks at Department of Defense schools in Japan and pave runways for Air Force jet pilots in Texas.

The group explored how to work together to market the program, including through senior leader to senior leader discussions and outreach to the military units that are the end users of MRO items.

They also discussed “Whole of Government” support, the support of non-DOD government agencies. In addition to support for the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Ebola response, MRO materials have been purchased locally as part of the Djibouti First legislation.

The legislation gives preference to Djiboutian products for DOD procurements in support of U.S. requirements in Djibouti, according to the State Department.

“The dollars may be small now, but the impact is huge,” Busch said. “It’s important work for a key ally.”

The challenges for MRO in Africa include limited supply sources in underdeveloped areas and a lack of transportation. But so far in fiscal 2016, 87 percent of the sales in Africa have been locally sourced, Lund said.

MRO vendors operate 12 storefronts at military installations in the U.S., including the Pentagon.

The storefronts save customers time and money, especially when they can order supplies for pickup when needed, instead of keeping an inventory, Lund said.

There is also a customer service advantage to having a storefront on an installation.

“(The storefront) is customized to what types of items units on theses installations need,” said Linda Messano, a vice president with Science Applications International Corporation, which has MRO contracts in four U.S. regions. “That’s part of the innovation this program brings.”