Links in the Chain of Command
February 5, 2009
- "We've never enjoyed readiness of Army aviation and missiles as we do right now. We've never been better. "
- The teamwork and partnerships are the best I've seen anywhere."
- "AMCOM is one of the four life cycle management commands in AMC," Myles said.
Black Hawk, Patriot, HIMARS, Avenger, Chinook, NLOS-LS, MLRS, Sentinel, Hellfire, Huey - behind every Army aviation and missile system are the Soldiers and DoD civilians and contractors of Redstone Arsenal who stand with pride, commitment and determination in their mission to provide war fighters with the very best weapon systems.
And standing with Arsenal employees are the Army organizations that manage weapon systems from beginning to end. Those organizations at Redstone Arsenal -- led primarily by the Aviation and Missile Command, Program Executive Office for Aviation and Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space - have set the standard for the entire Army in the application of the life cycle management philosophy.
"Here at Redstone we support the Soldier in all phases of the life cycle," said Maj. Gen. Jim Myles, commander of Redstone Arsenal and AMCOM.
"Our partnership requires us to seamlessly create, acquire, field, sustain and retire the most expensive and complicated weapon systems in the Army. And we do this with multiple organizations that are not in the same chain of command yet are bonded with one purpose and that's to support our Soldiers, especially those conducting combat operations around the world."
The joint sustainment of systems by PEO-Aviation, PEO-Missiles and Space, and AMCOM along with their various partners has translated to success in the Global War on Terrorism, now in its sixth year.
"We've been able to provide the equipment at the right time at the right place so Soldiers can conduct combat operations seamlessly," Myles said.
"We've never enjoyed readiness of Army aviation and missiles as we do right now. We've never been better. It's a tribute to the work force -- both Soldiers, and DoD civilians and contractors all across Redstone Arsenal. I believe the aviation and missile community is tasked and organized to provide the best support of the mission. The teamwork and partnerships are the best I've seen anywhere."
The partnership between AMCOM and PEO-Aviation and PEO-Missiles and Space is at times well defined and at other times more fluid as all three organizations shift efforts as needed to support project managers.
AMCOM, working at the direction of the Army Material Command, provides sustainment support to ensure aviation and missile system readiness throughout a system's life cycle. PEO-Aviation and PEO-Missiles and Space, reporting directly to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology OASA(ALT), provide direction and guidance for the development, acquisition, testing systems integration, product improvement, fielding, sustainment and eventual retirement of systems.
"It's been characterized as the strongest relationship between the Army Material Command and AMCOM and the entire ASA-ALT structure," said Brig. Gen. Genaro Dellarocco, the program executive officer for missiles and space.
"It's a very healthy, complementary, collaborative environment that we have here. The willingness to work together permeates all our organizations at Redstone Arsenal. We have support roles to each other, depending on the situation. Individual organizations have learned to work together in a very effective team focused on delivering capabilities to the battlefield and sustaining them."
The relationships between commands and program executive offices throughout the Army began to strengthen in 2004, when the Army initiated the Life Cycle Management concept. It is designed to help achieve the Army's overarching goal of transforming into a more lethal and agile force that requires a significantly smaller logistics footprint to sustain itself, resulting in a leaner but more effective and responsive logistics system that partners acquisition and sustainment.
"AMCOM is one of the four life cycle management commands in AMC," Myles said "Although we manage a smaller number of weapon systems than our sister organizations, we manage the most complex and expensive weapon systems in our Army inventory, and that requires the best and brightest at AMC.
"The support we receive from AMC is seamless, focused and embodies their love and commitment for our Soldiers and their families. They're committed to this war on terrorism just like we are - one team, one fight. They fully support and reinforce the life cycle management mission."
In the life cycles of a system, the science and technology of a weapon system is developed through the Army's Research Development and Engineering Command, which is represented at Redstone Arsenal by the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center. The PEOs take proven technology and prepare it for fielding to the forces through rigorous development, testing and acquisition programs. AMCOM then sustains the equipment through support to deployments, training, reset and depot maintenance support. Throughout all these phases, the different organizations work together to answer battlefield requirements.
"PEOs were stood up to be the professionals of acquisition and procurement," said Brig. Gen. Tim Crosby, the program executive officer for aviation.
"That has evolved into the management of the total life cycle. We share the management of the life cycle for some systems with partners in AMC. At Redstone, our partner is AMCOM. We are partners in the execution of our joint missions."
The partnership between AMCOM, PEO-Aviation and PEO-Missiles and Space is cemented in the philosophy of life cycle management, which requires the organizations to work together to support hardware from development to retirement.
AMCOM and the PEOs are in constant daily communication to handle issues related to Soldier readiness of aviation and missile systems. Although the program management offices are located within the PEOs, AMCOM employees are co-located with those offices, resulting in Soldier-Focused Logistics, where everyone is working in support of the Soldier on the battlefield, Crosby said.
"Soldiers are used to having decisions made. They don't care about command relationships or who reports to whom," he said. "By co-locating our resources, we are not codifying or usurping the chain of command. We are providing top cover to allow our Soldier-focused logistic teams to focus on the Soldier. We are tasked organized in the best way to execute the mission. We are partnered to make sure Soldiers get the best support."
The model of life cycle management demands teamwork, "co-locating people, building bridges between organizations and solidifying working relationships," Dellarocco said.
The defining relationships and responsibilities between AMCOM and the PEOs have been determined by congressional law, and they continue under life cycle management.
"We all report to a different chain of command. However, when it comes to providing support to our Army, we are bonded together and we all work for one person and that's the Soldier," Myles said.
"In the aviation and missile and space commodity arena, the commanding general of AMCOM is chartered by AMC (Army Materiel Command) with providing the oversight over issues that involve multiple aircraft or weapon systems. Issues pertaining to obsolescence, conditioned based maintenance or readiness of the aviation fleet and the missiles and space fleet are led by AMCOM. Unit readiness is a key area where AMCOM focuses to assure all is being done to support the Soldier."
Congress has also put in limitations - primarily funding -- that define how far the AMCOM and PEO relationships can go, Crosby said.
"In research and procurement funds, we can't fund things one year at a time," he said. "In PEO acquisition, we are fully funded through milestones while AMCOM is funded annually to manage sustainment. These monies can't be mixed, but they can support each other."
PEO funding has allowed "us to provide a lot of lethality for the battlefield and it does have an effect on the Global War on Terrorism," Dellarocco said.
Changes over the years have put in more purchase efficiencies for both AMCOM and the PEOs, Crosby said. In earlier practices, for example, one contract was managed by the PEO for the purchase of engines for a system that was to be fielded and a second contract was managed by AMCOM for the purchase of the same engines as maintenance or replacement parts in fielded systems. Now, those two responsibilities are integrated in the same contract.
"That's a clear demonstration of how our partnership is making us more efficient and more effective for the Soldier," Crosby said.
Although the AMCOM/PEO working relationship began before the Global War on Terrorism, the war has expedited the need for teamwork, sped up the development of systems and provided larger amounts of resources to fund programs.
"We can't allow tighter budgets to start drawing lines between us," Crosby said. "We have to partner closer and not undermine what we have built. It's so easy to revert when things get tight. Soldiers are counting on us to stay partnered and Soldier focused."
Regardless of funds or which employee works for which organization, AMCOM and the PEOs encourage teamwork at all levels that makes a difference on the battlefield.
"Our employees are the heart and soul of what we do," Dellarocco said. "It's their dedication, focus, drive and energy that produces our high quality systems in a timely manner.
"We look at ways to do things leaner and more efficient. We are very much customer focused. Our employees have their ear to the ground as far as Iraq and Afghanistan and they try to anticipate needs. They are leaning forward to make sure Soldiers get what they need."
In the life cycle management environment, the employee that drives most actions is the project manager.
"The project manager is well suited and qualified to see the full gamut of the life cycle of a system," Crosby said. "I believe that enterprise management happens best at the project management level. There will be times when Gen. Myles will request information from my project managers on sustainment issues and support of the Soldier. Gen. Myles has a significant responsibility and we will support that."
Due to the life cycle management construct, the project manager has evolved to being the single point of contact for their weapon system, because the Soldier in the field wants one touch point to call when there is trouble with a system.
"Soldiers deserve a consolidated coordinated answer and they get that through the project management office," said Crosby, who served as a commander of an aviation unit during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.
Myles firmly believes life cycle management and the example of teamwork established by AMCOM and PEO-Aviation and PEO-Missiles and Space is making the Army more capable of responding to future challenges.
"At the end of the day, all of us executing our collective mission require teamwork, selfless commitment and always looking at our mission through the prism of the Soldier's eyes," he said. "And we do that well at Redstone Arsenal. I've never seen it done better than here."