'We Support Soldiers. That's Our Focus Every Day.'
May 28, 2009
- We had a lot of air support throughout the day - But the end came when our technological advances came into play.
- He crawled from one position to another to direct the battle. He saved his platoon sergeant. He managed the fight.
- This is the kind of hero we have that's out fighting right now. There is no question how committed these Soldiers are.
- He then asked the industry representatives: "How committed are you'"
A picture of Staff Sgt. Christian Bryant tells the story Ronnie Chronister likes to convey to audiences interested in the work of the Aviation and Missile Command.
For Chronister, AMCOM deputy commander, that picture conveys exactly what kind of difference the Army's aviation and missile systems and technology can make on the battlefield.
Bryant, a Silver Star recipient, was one of three leaders of the 2nd Platoon of the 19th Mountain Division in Afghanistan in 2007 who successfully led 27 U.S. Soldiers and five Afghan soldiers in a battle against as many as 100 al Qaeda during a cordon and search mission in the country's northern region.
The battle lasted more than 17 hours. But in the end, it was superior technology and air support that brought success for U.S. forces.
"We had a lot of air support throughout the day - Apaches, A-10s, B-1s trying to dislodge the enemy," Bryant is reported to have said. "But the end came when our technological advances came into play. Our AC-130s, after dark, were able to pick out the friendly from the enemy. We found out the next day that we had killed one of their leaders."
Chronister told industry representatives at the 11th annual Tactical Missiles Conference that Bryant's actions are representative of the heroism of all U.S. Soldiers.
"He crawled from one position to another to direct the battle. He saved his platoon sergeant. He managed the fight. He led three Apaches to insurgent locations. He helped the Javelin gunner kill insurgents," Chronister said.
"This is the kind of hero we have that's out fighting right now. He is indicative of a lot of Soldiers. There is no question how committed these Soldiers are."
He then asked the industry representatives: "How committed are you'"
"Are we still committed to providing hardware and systems so that Soldiers can do the unbelievable things in this fight'"
At AMCOM, that commitment is still very much real, Chronister said.
"What do we do' We support Soldiers. That's our focus every day," he said.
Every morning AMCOM receives reports on the number of helicopters down in theater (on a recent morning it was 10 out of 600) and a status report on missile systems. Then AMCOM ensures that parts are delivered quickly to repair and maintain helicopters and missile systems.
More than 90,000 Hellfire missiles and 1,100 Javelins have been fired in operation contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Those numbers are impressive and you all are doing a great job," Chronister told his audience of primarily defense contractors.
Chronister mentioned other personal accounts of how the Army's hardware is saving Soldier lives. In one account, the Javelin's successful performance against an Iraqi armor attack saved the lives of 30 Soldiers. In another account, the Javelin helped Soldiers secure a downed 58-Delta and safely evacuate the helicopter's crew.
He explained that AMCOM is an enterprise operation working with program executive offices of Aviation, and Missiles and Space, and the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center to provide program managers with the resources and technology they need to manage and sustain aviation and missile systems.
AMCOM uses condition-based maintenance and integrated solutions to prolong the life of systems, save millions of dollars in repair and replacement, and improve the performance and enhance capabilities of systems. Chronister also mentioned recent enhanced capabilities, such as the Patriot's handheld user inspection device, the Hellfire's blast frag sleeve, the Improved Target Acquisition System and the integration of the Avenger's M3P machine gun on the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter platform.
The Avenger/Kiowa machine gun project was "a cross collaboration from the missile side of the house to the aviation side," Chronister said. "These are examples of how we pull together at AMCOM with AMRDEC and the PEOs to continue a legacy of support to the Soldier. Because of that effort we have award-winning performance-based logistics and life cycle contractor support programs."
Chronister also talked about the use of Missile Defense Agency systems - such as THAAD, radar systems and the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Program - by Soldiers, and he reviewed the "explosive growth" in foreign military sales, and the systems AMCOM fields, maintains and sustains. He urged defense contractors to control expenses so that costs don't threaten the success of hardware programs.