News: Military vendor expo offers first look at new gear
Story by Sgt. Jarred Woods
FORT BLISS, Texas – A stimulating scene unfolded, not unlike children in a candy store, as visitors explored the expansive displays of the latest military communications, training and protective gear at the 5th Annual Warfighter Expo held at the Fort Bliss Centennial Club Aug. 13.
The purpose of the show was to offer military, emergency medical service, various law enforcement and other personnel a hands-on look at the newest equipment available. Advanced Distribution System Inc., the organizer of the event, partnered with various military vendors to include Camelbak, Gerber, Litefighter and several others to showcase their newest products.
“Our purpose is the Army’s mission,” said retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Terrence Jolliff, an account manager with ADS. “Wherever the service member is, ADS is there. We cater to all services across the board.”
Jolliff also emphasized how attendee feedback benefits the overall mission.
“A Soldier can come here and see the latest and greatest equipment and say, ‘Ok, how does this fit into our mission? How does this fit into our requirement?’ Or, ‘I didn’t know we needed something like that, and we do,” he said. “For instance, last year the public affairs office had issues carrying their cameras and equipment around,’ and I said, ‘Let me customize a bag for you.’ So we linked up with the Army’s Program Executive Office and went ahead and created a customized PAO bag for them to carry their gear.”
The fires sergeant major for the 1st Armored Division, Sgt. Maj. Robert O’Donnell, also a frequenter of military expos, complimented ADS’ integrity and stressed the value of attending such events.
“ADS does a good job of weeding-out bad contractors,” O’Donnell said. “They don’t deal with people who misinform. You get to come here and see, test and play with the equipment before you consider buying it. That’s why I like these types of shows.”
Military expos also provide an opportunity for the consumer to stay informed about the equipment they utilize.
“They allow a way of gaining trust in the equipment; everything the Army buys for us is pretty much right here,” added O’Donnell. “I think the Soldiers need to come to these events and see all this stuff. I also think the commanders should all come to these events. This is the one opportunity they get to see where some of the money they spend ends up. The commanders are ultimately the ones who will approve or disapprove us to buy what we want.”
Jolliff summarized the significance of the relationship among military contractors and the individuals who utilize their products.
“My greatest joy is knowing that these service members were able to come to me with a problem, and I was able to provide them with a solution,” Jolliff added. “When they have that equipment in their hand, when they come back from the National Training Center, McGregor Range or from some other training, and they say, ‘It works and it was exactly what we needed,’ that’s my greatest joy.”