By Maj. Thomas Fite, Jesse Cohen and William Labance for Army AL&T magazineJune 13, 2024

The vehicle-integrated XM123 GOBLN, featured during the industry day demonstration, detects and neutralizes hazards at standoff, creating a passable vehicle-wide lane while reducing risk to the breaching force. (Photo Credit: Sean Mazza, U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground) VIEW ORIGINAL
Connecting industry directly to the Army’s capabilities and needs.

Establishing and maintaining successful partnerships with industry doesn’t just happen overnight. In fact, partnerships and business relationships require a strong foundation, built upon open communication, honesty and with an emphasis on accountability within and across all stakeholders. One way project management offices (PMOs) can establish and preserve these partnerships is through industry days. Industry day events are an important part of market research, as they invite industry to directly engage with the government in advance of future contract opportunities to understand program requirements and ask detailed questions.

The Demolition Reformation and XM123 Ground Obstacle Breaching Lane Neutralizer (GOBLN) Industry Day hosted by Project Manager Close Combat Systems (PM CCS) under the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A) was quite successful, attracting over 140 representatives from 49 defense companies and 15 government organizations. As a result of these industry events, a better understanding emerged of the technology that exists today and how industry envisions solving the complex problems faced by Soldiers while conducting lane breaching—clearing danger, like mines, from an area to create a safe path—and other types of operations with demolitions.


Under the leadership and guidance of Joseph Pelino, program manager for PM CCS; Michael Burke, product director; and Phillip Lawson, demolition branch lead, the Demolitions and Countermeasures (D&CM) team simultaneously executed two multiday industry events at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, on Jan. 23-25, 2024. Expanding past a traditional industry day and covering multiple contract actions led to more than 140 representatives from the defense companies and government organizations descending upon the arsenal to review and discuss the use of innovative technologies, efforts to reform the demolition portfolio, the future of breaching operations and the development of the XM123 GOBLN program.

Demolition systems, with their rich history rooted in World War II technology, stand at a critical juncture. Recent conversations with the user community initiated by the D&CM team have sparked a renewed focus on modernization. PM CCS has proactively launched this industry day as market research to align with emerging user requirements. By embracing modernization, we can enhance the versatility and multifunctionality of demolition systems to allow Soldiers to perform missions with safer, lighter and faster products and execute from greater standoff distance, ensuring they effectively support the needs of our modern forces. These developments position us for a transformative leap forward, bridging the past with the future, as we redefine the landscape of safe and efficient demolitions.

Pelino was no longer interested in how industry days were done in the past and sought an event that invoked more participation from its attendees. Within the planning process, Pelino stated, “Let’s redefine industry days, move past the way they have always been done. Instead, let’s create an event that sparks innovation, and challenge the participants to learn. That will truly transform our processes and drive progress.”

With an outdated portfolio and stimulus for modernization, the industry day planning team included engagements among industry partners, 11th Airborne Division (Artic Angels), 20th Engineer Brigade (Airborne), engineer representatives from the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps materiel development communities, the Army Office of the Chief of Engineers and the Walter Reed Institute of Research, as well as NATO allies from the United Kingdom and Germany. Over the three-day event, attendees participated in a classified briefing, observed a live demonstration of new demolitions technology, and discussed carefully selected topics designed to inspire industry and spark valuable conversations to help create the foundation for future engagements. The last day of the event involved a full day of scheduled one-on-one sessions between industry and government representatives.

To put it into perspective, the Demolitions Modernization team conducted 11 separate one-on-one sessions, and the XM123 GOBLN team conducted another 22 simultaneously. These meetings acted as an open door for industry to leverage what they heard and observed the prior days to help modernize the demolitions portfolio. What the team learned throughout the event is that the information that experts provided to industry and in-depth discussions proved invaluable and helped set the foundation to building a relationship with industry—leading to several, post-event follow-up conversations with the two different teams.

Maj. Thomas Fite, assistant product manager for PM CCS, welcomes industry partners and government organizations to the XM123 GOBLN and Demolition Reformation Industry Day hosted at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, in January 2024.
(Photo Credit: Jeanie Fortunato, PM CCS)


Organizing and executing an industry day engagement comes with its own challenges. But preparing for industry partners to attend one on base—conducting a classified briefing and a demonstration—proved to be an even more challenging endeavor. Navigating gate access, security clearances, escorting personnel through facilities and simply preparing rooms required all hands on deck for the weeks leading up to the event and on the days it took place. These types of events require a minimum of four months of advanced work, as well as coordination between various entities, both internal and external to JPEO A&A.

Using human-centered design, D&CM aimed to create future value in the industry days, which proved to require tactical foresight while organizing the events. Thoughtful planning went into briefing each topic, including who was briefing and who attended the one-on-one meetings with industry. We curated representatives from the government side, including project officers from the PMO, engineers from U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Armaments Center, DEVCOM C5ISR Center, the requirements team and Soldiers from various sources to sit in meetings specific to the work they are doing, what they have done in the past and what capability gaps still exist today. The meetings were short but information-filled, and having a scribe in the room was necessary to gather the contributions from every person. The team scheduled one-on-ones using the voluntary capabilities and interest statements solicited with the RSVP from the Sources Sought Notice (SSN) to ensure alignment between the competencies of the industry partner and the roles of the government stakeholders in attendance. We then created the opportunity to collaborate between industry and the user community in the one-on-ones to build the foundation of the next modernized demolition product.


The one-on-one meetings and follow-on conversations sparked by the event that made it clear that this kind of opportunity is an invaluable tool to bring industry in at the ground level for production. Industry days allow the PMO and the team to share their best practices with stakeholders, solicit feedback and foster collaboration for future and existing programs. This helps improve the quality, efficiency and safety of products and processes, as well as support the digital engineering efforts of the Army. It affords the opportunity for industries and suppliers to streamline work, adhere to industry standards and solve problems more efficiently. By making industry days part of best practices, we enhance communication with industry and our government organizations.

The D&CM team maximized our participation and made the event more attractive by conducting one industry day event for two programs. This proved to be an additional advantage that assisted in casting a wider net to industry. By cross pollinating and submitting two SSNs with similar RSVP attachments, we found that the event participation far exceeded our expectations—and brought in new partners that had not yet explored the issues faced by Soldiers and how we want to modernize demolitions in the future. This worked well for the two programs—Demolition Reformation and XM123 GOBLN—since they align aiming to modernize demolitions and breaching technologies. This tactic proved useful to the companies that attended since they did not have to travel twice to learn about multiple programs.

Eric Beckel, Ph.D., an explosives engineer with DEVCOM Armaments Center, demonstrates the malleability of a modernized explosive by packing the product in an explosively formed penetrator. (Photo Credit: Gunnery Sgt. Ryan May, U.S. Marine Corps) VIEW ORIGINAL


Using detailed notes taken during the one-on-one meetings with industry, the PM CCS team reviewed highlights from the conversations with the user community and materiel development team to determine where a need exists for demolitions to be modernized and reformed with the Army 2030 and 2040 battlefield in mind. After careful review, follow-up meetings were set with members of the PMO and DEVCOM to begin conversations to advance the products and pursue modernization efforts for the demolition products discussed.


PM CCS’s Demolition Reformation and XM123 GOBLN Industry Day exemplifies the importance and effectiveness of strategic partnerships between the government and industry. Despite the challenges faced in organizing this event, including navigating security clearances and coordinating with various entities, the PM CCS team demonstrated resilience, adaptability and innovation. Furthermore, through open communication, meticulous planning and a commitment to accountability, the team was able to bring together a diverse range of stakeholders to discuss the modernization of demolitions and breaching technologies and foster a deeper understanding of the evolving needs of the military. PM CCS is leveraging lessons learned and moving forward with the goal of one industry event per quarter. This will enable our team to continue to build upon that strong foundation and foster continued collaboration with stakeholders and a commitment to innovation for the battlefield of 2030 and beyond.

For industry day success:

  • Customize one-on-one meetings to include users and engineers alike.
  • Pair the events with similar products to cast a wider net.
  • Expand to new partners.
  • Bring more visibility to each program from companies that would not usually attend one.

Additionally, the platform can be used to advertise upcoming events. Start the planning process six months to a year in advance so you can put industry day events on the radar of the companies, leaving a taste for another opportunity in the back of their mind.

Industry days serve as a critical tool for engaging with industry partners, sharing best practices and driving innovation. By customizing one-on-one meetings, organizations can maximize the impact of their industry day events and build lasting partnerships with stakeholders.

For more information on JPEO A&A project offices, go to


MAJ. THOMAS FITE is an assistant product manager for PM Close Combat Systems. He holds an MBA in systems engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a Master of Public Administration from University of Missouri and a B.A. in political science from University of Iowa. He is DAWIA certified Practitioner in program management.

 JESSE COHEN is a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor operating as a special project officer at PM Close Combat Systems. He holds a B.S. in general engineering from the United States Naval Academy and is expected to complete his executive MBA in technology management in August 2024 from Stevens Institute of Technology.

 WILLIAM LABANCE is a business management specialist at PM CCS. He holds a B.S. in economics from the Penn State University and is a DOD contracting professional.

Read the full article in the Spring 2024 issue of Army AL&T magazine.
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