DLA, defense industry collaborate on maximizing warfighter readiness

By Beth Reece

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The Defense Logistics Agency keeps its promise to support warfighters around the world because of America’s defense industrial base, DLA Logistics Operations Director Navy Rear Adm. Vincent Griffith said Aug. 30 during the DLA Land and Maritime Supplier Conference and Expo in Columbus, Ohio.

The three-day event is expected to give more than 90 small and large business owners the chance to collaborate with DLA and Department of Defense leaders.
 
DLA has continued to provide effective and efficient global solutions to the military services and other federal agencies despite budget constraints, Griffith said. The agency conducts about $38 billion in sales annually and operates with DoD working capital funds, which rely on sales revenue rather than congressional appropriations. 

“At this point, DLA has been very successful in the working capital environment. We’ve been able to make the right investments at the right time while adding some stability to your processes,” the admiral continued. 

DLA and industry must create smarter business practices to manage sustainment costs for new platforms, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and refurbish aging weapons systems like the B-52 bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile, he added.

“We’re looking for innovation and partnering to produce better outcomes,” he said, noting that performance-based logistics, a tenet of Better Buying Power 3.0, will soon become a standard business practice. The challenge, he said, will be structuring PBL contracts so that industry is incentivized to increase readiness rates and maintains a profit. 

“I challenge us all to define that and make that happen. That’s where the true value is going to happen,” he added. 

And while DLA once bought supplies such as food and stored them in warehouses before sending them out to troops, Griffith said the agency is looking for ideas from industry on how to use existing commercial products.  

Acting DLA Land and Maritime Commander James McClaugherty noted that positive improvements have been made in areas like reduced cost growth and reduced cycle times. However, there’s still a constant need for improvement, particularly as technology, industry and missions continue to change, he said.

“I would unhesitatingly say you are our competitive advantage in the balance of national power around the world. Without your ideas, innovation and commitment, we’re not able to successfully support our warfighters,” McClaugherty added. “Together, we need to have a laser focus on long-term strategic issues.”

In addition to presentations by service logisticians, DoD leaders and Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the conference will feature panel discussions for small and large businesses as well as breakout sessions on topics ranging from cost and pricing to cybersecurity.