2018 DoD Maintenance Symposium Confirms Maintenance is Key to Readiness

2018 DoD Maintenance Symposium confirms maintenance is key to readiness

Maintenance is the generator of readiness. Get the parts and we’ll generate the weapons systems—generate the readiness. Throughout the 2018 DoD Maintenance Symposium, held in Tampa, FL, December 17-20, recurring topics of innovation, collaboration, and empowerment underpinned the event theme of Maintaining America’s Lethal Competitive Edge. With a centrally-located, award-winning 20’ X 30’ booth, NCMS and the Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities (CTMA) Program was a hub for maintenance and sustainment decision-makers to view innovative technologies from seven NCMS industry members.

Equipois: ZeroG Arm System

Maglogix: Multi-Pole Switchable Permanent Magnets

One Network: Maintenance, Repair, and Operations for Defense Agencies 

Siemens: Product Lifecycle Management for Aircraft Sustainment & Support

Spectro Scientific: FieldLab 58M Expeditionary Fluid Analysis System

Temple Allen Industries: Stand-Up Abrading Machine (SAM)

Wet Technologies: Wet Blast and High Pressure Solutions


Never before has maintenance felt so critical and disruptive solutions, such as Additive Manufacturing and predictive maintenance, been such a focus. The National Defense Strategy hones in on the need to recover readiness. Therefore the exchange of ideas, private/public networking opportunities, data gathering for informed decision-making, and improved process discussions, all important aspects of the Symposium, fit into that mandate.

According to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Kenneth Watson, the DoD Maintenance Symposium is an excellent chance to establish new contacts and renew old ones in this ever-changing world. He asked the disturbing questions of the attendees, “Are we good? Or simply good enough?” With the emergence once again of Russia and now China’s global influence and investment around the world, the Honorable Robert McMahon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment highlighted the notion that the DoD needs to think differently about our ability to repair, resupply, and sustain. With readiness at about 50% , that is not a passing grade, but that also provides us with an opportunity, a challenge to get to where we need to be.

Listening to high-level decision-makers from all branches of service, hot topics at the 2018 Maintenance Symposium were:

  • Putting the over 1.5 billion maintenance activity records to good use by providing information towards predictive condition-based maintenance before failures happen.
  • Our Services need to be more ready, resilient and flexible, with an emphasis on logistics, modernization, and culture reform.
  • Service collaboration and the use of data analytics in order to support our warfighters here and those on foreign deployment.
  • Rethinking reliance on fixed hub maintenance facilities
  • Increased use of sensors, point-of-use apps, and asset tracking technology
  • Awareness of imminent talent shortfalls such as drivers, which could result in a transportation “Achilles Heel”
  • Boosting the use and analysis of “Big Data” that can provide accurate, real-time, useful, integrated, and accessible information to inform targeted decision-making

Once again, it is apparent that the answers to all these issues lies with a collaboration between the government and the industrial base to fill the gaps. Brigadier General Kyle Robinson, USAF stated that “we need to own our own destiny.” That includes managing the supply chain, being more agile and to look and think proactively.

The DoD Maintenance Symposium is the synthesis for what the Secretary of Defense states in the National Defense Strategy and NCMS has been working in lockstep to be a hub of collaboration that enhances warfighter readiness.

We cannot expect success fighting tomorrow’s conflicts with yesterday’s weapons or equipment. To address the scope and pace of our competitors’ and adversaries’ ambitions and capabilities, we must invest in modernization of key capabilities through sustained, predictable budgets. Our backlog of deferred readiness, procurement, and modernization requirements has grown in the last decade and a half and can no longer be ignored.   Cited from The National Defense Strategy.


One of the goals for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment is strengthening the partnerships between government and industry. For the last 20 years, the CTMA Program has responded to that mission with over 400 private/public partnership projects that enhance warfighter readiness.

Sustainment Technology from Development to Transaction—A Rapid Sustainment Office and Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities Tutorial (an inaugural tutorial as part of the DoD Maintenance Symposium) provided an overview on how the CTMA Program can be utilized to assist industry and government in developing sustainment technology, successfully inserting that capability within DoD maintenance and sustainment.  The session detailed the CTMA collaborative process, which streamlines the validation and demonstration of technologies experiencing a 92% technology transition rate.

Presenters at this tutorial were Debbie Lilu, CTMA Program Director at NCMS and Greg Kilchenstein, Director of Enterprise Maintenance Technology, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Materiel Readiness.

“The personnel landscape within the DoD is always changing so the Maintenance Symposium was the perfect venue for a refresher tutorial. It’s important to keep the benefits of the CTMA Program in the forefront of decision-makers’ minds,” says Debbie Lilu, CTMA Program Director.”

There were approximately 60 people in attendance spanning industry and government who asked questions ranging from how the demonstrations work, to the timing for MIPRs. Listening to the benefits of using the CTMA contract vehicle, from both the industry and government perspectives, it is clear why the Program is stronger than ever after more than two decades.