DLA, military brief clothing industry partners on warfighter support plans

By Mikia Muhammad DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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The Defense Logistics Agency is able to provide uniforms and equipment to warfighters with the support of the Clothing and Textiles supply chain’s industry partners, the C&T director told those partners Oct. 19.

 “Outfitting the warfighter with the clothing, equipment and textiles items that we need to do our jobs in garrison and downrange,” Air Force Col. Lawrence Hicks said, “this is what we do and this is what you, our industry partners, help us do day in, day out.”

Hicks was speaking to a meeting of approximately 600 industry partners and representatives of the military services during the 2016 Joint Advanced Planning Brief for Industry.

The two-day meeting, hosted by C&T, was an opportunity for industry to learn about upcoming business opportunities for providing military clothing and individual equipment.

The JAPBI is the only forum where DLA, the services and domestic clothing and textiles manufacturers come together to discuss future requirements, event curator and C&T industry ombudswoman Donna Pointkouski said.

“This information allows industry to plan accordingly,” Pointkouski said. “The more we share information with industry, the more successful they are in meeting our needs.”

 On the first day, leaders from C&T, the military services and some federal agencies briefed attendees on potential product and business forecasts. The second day included a schedule of smaller sessions about specific items or business process topics, including dress clothing and life cycle logistics.

Bruce Carson, a C&T customer operations division chief, attributed the large turnout to the mutual needs and mission of all involved in outfitting America’s warfighters.

“We all know how important our shared responsibility is,” Carson said. “It’s our job to put the best equipment on our fighting forces to ensure they do their best, complete their missions and come home safely, and we do it better than anybody in the world.”

Hicks shared several personal stories about being on the receiving end of C&T’s support.

“We’ve been doing this for many, many years,” Hicks said. “I for one, as a user and a provider, don’t take that for granted. Over the years, the gear has been absolutely fantastic.”

 C&T forecasts it will generate $1.83 billion in sales in fiscal 2017, more than the $1.7 billion it generated 2016, Hicks said.

Dillard and Director of Supplier Operations Steven Merch also presented forecasts for specific items and programs C&T will support in fiscal 2017.

C&T Deputy Director Roy Dillard discussed emerging markets that vendors can support, including customers in Southwest Asia.

“Our foreign military sales program and humanitarian assistance projects that we’ve [supported] over the past three to four years are growing tremendously,” Dillard said.

Merch encouraged vendors to use value engineering, a contract clause that allows them to make better items at a lower cost during manufacturing, if accepted by the military service customer.

“If you can provide us a better item and there’s savings involved, then you’re able to share on those savings,” Merch said.

A common future requirement across military services is the need for fire resistant material, said Army Col. Dean Hoffman, project manager of the Army Project Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment. The services are also planning to consolidate product descriptions and requirements for items.

“We as [military] services, are definitely looking across each other to see how we can become more like each other,” Hoffman said.

One vendor said the JAPBI was a well-organized event that strengthens relationships between customer and suppliers, to maintain a healthy and productive supply chain.

“It was perfectly balanced, to include concise and precise information, and allowed sufficient breaks to interact with industry,” Kandor Manufacturing, Inc. President José Rodriguez said.

Visit the C&T website for more information on working with the supply chain.