Maj. Gen. Jim Rogers, commander, Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, AL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Dwight Eisenhower, general of the Army and 34th president of the United States, said "Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him." In light of recent Department of Defense budget cuts and the Army's goal to create a force which is smaller, but flexible, agile and ready, no quote better sums up the sense of urgency for the Aviation and Missile Command to transform its business operations. It's clear the time for change is now.

In fiscal year 2010, the DoD had a budget of $698 billion. During the next 10 years, defense spending cuts must total $469 billion, and we anticipate additional cuts.

While the amount of future cuts remains uncertain, history has shown us what is going to happen. For the last 60 years defense spending has been cyclical. Every time our budget has been drastically cut, we have been reactive instead of proactive and the result has been a hollow, less capable Army.

We've gotten it right zero out of four times.

To absorb expected future cuts, we have to be able to articulate what we do, demonstrate that we do it efficiently, and show why the Army cannot do it without us. To avoid the haphazard "salami slicing" approach to saving money, we have to be aggressive during 2012 to determine what right looks like and posture ourselves to implement cuts that benefit the Army without hindering our ability to support the Soldier. We hold the power to balance mission and costs against the big picture of overall readiness requirements, but only if we do our jobs right.

Traditionally, when budget cuts are made, personnel are the first to go. I would argue instead that our first priority should be to become more cost efficient by transforming our business processes. That's the key and premise for the "Transforming AMCOM" initiative.

Let's look at the facts.

In 2011, AMCOM's funding for labor and non-labor totaled $6.38 billion. Approximately $1 billion were from costs associated with supporting the work force. The remaining $5.3 billion were non-labor costs.

We need to go where the money is -- and that means reducing our non-labor costs wherever we can, while improving the efficiency of the supply chain life-cycle. We have to take a hard look at ourselves command-wide and make sure that we are going in the right direction. Decisions about programs and services must be made carefully, thoughtfully and strategically.

And that's where each of you comes in.

My intent for launching the "Transforming AMCOM" initiative is to empower the work force at every level to take action and help AMCOM become a more efficient and effective organization. I believe that the work force holds the answers to these very complex issues because you are the people doing the work every day.

Great ideas aren't delegated to a particular pay grade. So, it doesn't matter if you're a GS-5 or a GS-15; a logistician or a human resource specialist; a permanent employee or a contractor. If you have an innovative idea for how AMCOM can generate fiscal savings by transforming its business processes, then I want to hear about it. Please submit your ideas at http://tinyurl.com/TransformingAMCOM.

Your ideas will be used to develop feasible solutions to AMCOM's efficiency issues. More importantly, they will play a significant role in instituting a cultural change within the command, ultimately creating an organization that embraces change rather than resists it.

In professor John Kotter's book "Leading Change," there are several essential steps to creating lasting organizational and cultural change within any large company. "Lasting" is the key word. We do both ourselves and the Soldiers we serve a grave injustice if we don't maintain improvements because it's easier to go back to the way we are used to doing things.

I am not taking a top-down approach to AMCOM's transformation, but rather an employee-driven process. This cultural movement is centered on the efforts of employees at the lowest level, not just middle and upper management. While middle and upper management plays a significant role, they are not expected to be the driving force.

My vision is twofold: for AMCOM to be known Armywide for its continuous innovation, and to become the provider of choice worldwide for the sustainment and logistics of the Army's state-of-the-art aviation and missile systems.

To do that we have to change the way we do business command-wide, instilling a culture of efficiency without sacrificing effectiveness. I want every AMCOM employee to ask themselves two questions on a daily basis: "What can I improve today?" and "How can I help my organization achieve its ideal future ready state that best meets the needs of our Soldiers?"

This culture change and different way of doing business will foster open communication, improve collaboration and eliminate redundancies in the life-cycle management of the Army's aviation and missile systems. The result will be a lean, globally-networked life-cycle system that is agile and adaptable to the Soldiers' needs.

What I'm asking you to do is not easy. If it was then it would have been done already. But AMCOM has a reputation of thinking forward and executing things that need to get done ahead of schedule. And that's exactly what we need to do now.

So, I challenge each of you to take ownership of being part of the solution by not only embracing change, but by leading change as we look for innovative ways to transform AMCOM. An issue of this magnitude cannot be solved by one person, one directorate, or even one command. Only through our ability to innovate, collaborate and rapidly adapt, will we achieve our vision and ensure that America's Army forever remains the strength of the nation.

Maj. Gen. Jim Rogers
AMCOM commander

Editor's note: In preparation for reductions in defense spending, commands across the Army have begun to look for innovative ways to reduce overhead expenditures. At Redstone Arsenal, the Army Materiel Command and the Aviation and Missile Command have launched campaigns encouraging their workers to submit ideas to help the commands be more effective and efficient in a resource constrained environment.

Page last updated Wed January 25th, 2012 at 00:00