Operating in the 'New Normal' -- post conflict support essential to Industrial Base future
February 19, 2014
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The future of the Army and commercial industrial base as the Army nears the end of more than a dozen years of conflict was a topic of discussion during the 2014 Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium and Exposition.
"The industrial base builds and sustains combat power, making it possible for our combat forces to succeed on the battlefield," said John Nerger, Army Materiel Command's Executive Deputy to the Commanding General, and a member of a panel of defense and industry experts at the symposium, Feb. 19.
"The industrial base should be seen as a shared role, as a shared responsibility," he said. "We see the Organic Industrial Base as a 'national treasure' -- not an Army treasure, not an AMC treasure, but a national treasure. We need a viable industrial base to meet the Department of Defense equipment needs and to be prepared for the next operational requirement."
The panel members, which also included Lt. Gen. Ray Mason, the Army G-4, focused on the way ahead for the Army's Organic Industrial Base. The industrial base played a critical role over the past decade by surging to sustain war fighting equipment deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the efforts turn from wartime to peacetime, maintaining a functioning industrial base remains a priority, but efforts have to be made to ensure the right balance.
According to Mason, in 2012, the Army introduced the U.S Army Organic Industrial Base Strategic Plan, creating the strategy and management framework needed to ensure that the Army's OIB remains viable, effective, and efficient as the Army draws down from a decade of combat operations.
"We need industry's help," Mason said. "How do we make this all work? We are always looking for a balance between the Army industrial base and the commercial base."
Former Corpus Christi Army Depot commander and current Special Assistant to the AMC Commanding General Col. Chris Carlisle emphasized the importance of partnering between the Army and the commercial industrial base.
"Find a way to partner with our depots and arsenals," Carlisle encouraged the commercial defense participants. "Use their capabilities, which are already paid for; use their capitol, which is already paid for. I truly believe we are just scratching the surface of what can be done," Carlisle added.
Panel participant Kevin Fahey, Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Services Support, emphasized that the way ahead will not resemble the past. "We added tremendous capability (during the surge), and we cannot afford to lose those capabilities," he said.
"What is the new normal? It looks a little different than it did, but the focus is always on the Soldier -- always on the joint warfighter…how do we sustain them and give them the right equipment," Fahey said.