Twenty years in the making, CTMA Partners Meeting celebrates the program’s accomplishments

The 2018 CTMA/DLA Partners Meeting was an intensive three days of engaging speeches, interactive maintenance focused technology panels, multiple project presentations tracks, and a stimulating technology competition that concluded the event. With the theme of “Supplying Game Changing Technology to the DoD’s maintenance community,” it was a gathering of government and industry partners all focused on enhancing warfighter readiness.

Partners at the meeting were offered a tour of Defense Logistics Agency, the supply arm of the DoD, as a warm up to the event. The group learned that the base has 300 geothermal wells, 600 acres of land and trails, its largest customer is Naval Aviation, approximately 3,000 warfighters come annually to train, and that thousands of maps are printed on demand from military bases all over the world.

With that stimulating warm up the partners were ready to get down to the business of learning about the current state of the DoD and their critical maintenance and sustainment needs that could be met with some of CTMA partners’ innovative technology.

Debra Lilu, CTMA program director at NCMS and Greg Kilchenstein, Director, Enterprise Maintenance Technology, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Maintenance Policy & Programs (ODASD-MPP) provided a CTMA tutorial highlighting the exponential growth of the program in the last few years. Reaching a record $50 million last year in project funding (double the previous year), Lilu pointed out that the model of government and industry collaboration makes this paradigm work. Since CTMA became Service funded, 92% of all technologies are transitioned. The standard rate is 20-30%. The program addresses readiness, costs, reliability, repair turn time, quality, with an eye to safety.

“When someone asks you what you do, your response should be, We are readiness people! That’s what we do,” says Kilchenstein. “The CTMA program affords us the opportunity to leverage our resources to sustain weapon system availability at a cost we can afford.”

Welcoming the partners to the meeting was Kelly Morris, DLA Chief of Research and Development who brought their mission into succinct focus. They buy everything that goes into maintenance, receiving approximately 30,000 orders a month, with up to 40% of requests non-biddable because of obsolescence.   She reiterated the DLA mission to be “agile, global, and ready to take the warfighter into the 21st century.” They are looking for innovations to move them forward and that is why the CTMA program fits so well with their vision.

Mr. Kenneth Watson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Maintenance Policy and Programs shook the participants with the reality of the DoD’s situation. “Materiel readiness is not where it needs to be,” Watson said. Quoting the National Defense Strategy’s implementation plan, which is the DoD’s roadmap for the next three years, the three goals he outlined were:

  • Enhance readiness
  • Strengthen alliances
  • Improve performance

“How fast can we innovate?” Watson asked. “That is why we need you. We must continuously work on warfighter readiness in less time with fewer costs. This is an enterprise approach and we all need to be reading from the same sheet of music.”

In a second keynote address, Executive Director, Logistics, Policy and Strategic Programs Directorate for the DLA Logistics Operations Mr. George Atwood highlighted the DLA’s problem with material availability. Their mission of buy, distribute, and dispose, has been narrowed to five goals:

  1. Focus on enhanced readiness support
  2. Good stewardship
  3. Worldwide support
  4. Counterfeit parts reduction
  5. Strong partnerships

But the primary focus of the meeting was on Additive Manufacturing (AM), Blockchain and other digital technologies. The “Industry 4.0 the Modern Supply Chain” panelists agreed that the DoD was moving away from 2D blueprints and into 3D digital computer design.

Colonel Howard K. Marotto, II gave several current scenarios of how the Marine Corps is using AM. Some of these initiatives include a part of the F-35 landing gear and repair parts for an impeller fan. But according to Marotto, “AM is only going to get bigger and faster. We don’t need factories anymore, we need facilities full of 3D printers.”

According to Deloitte Consulting, the supply chain is changing from moving things to moving information. Marilyn Gaska, Fellow with Lockheed Martin who spoke on virtual and augmented reality, used an example of hands-free, heads up maintenance technology where technicians can look through special glasses and the expert at the call center can see exactly what the local technician is seeing, as an example of what’s coming next.

“CTMA was born 20 years ago to utilize our unique position to streamline the process of getting needed technology, such as Additive Manufacturing, in front of those who need it most.  NCMS and CTMA, along with our partners, have participated in over 355 projects to date that have made the warfighter, safer, more efficient, and smarter,” said Lilu. “Together, we have changed the maintenance paradigm from status quo to a technologically advanced, well-oiled machine.  CTMA is changing the very nature of military maintenance and you have played a crucial role.”

With the message of the right parts, at the right time, and for the right price, Dr. Robert Lusardi, senior advisor for the PEO Ground Combat Systems for the U.S. Army, stressed that modernization and appropriate assets equate to readiness.

For the 177 participants, this event gave them the complete picture of why CTMA is a critical program and that collaboration is the only way to maintain competitiveness. Kilchenstein knows this all too well.

“Collaboration is a team sport and it is imperative that we break away from our daily struggles and assemble as a team, face to face, periodically to nurture our sense of community.  We all know the cliché that “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”.  The CTMA Partners Meeting provides all our sustainment technology partners an opportunity to truly be “part of the solution”!

For more information and details about the meeting agenda, visit