Army undersecretary highlights the Army's 'business side'
April 3, 2012
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MORRISTOWN, N.J. (April 3, 2012) -- While the public may associate the U.S. Army with Soldiers and weapons on the battlefield, there is also an "institutional" Army that has functions similar to those of large corporations in the private sector, a top Army official told a business group here April 2.
Speaking before the Morristown Chamber of Commerce, Undersecretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal said the institutional or "business side" of the Army was responsible for the training, recruiting, staffing, equipping and sustaining of the Army forces.
"Even though our mission differs from the private sector, everything we do has a strong basis in business," Westphal said. "From IT (information technology) to logistics, to running an installation to complex combat operations in Afghanistan, the way we operate and the challenges we face are very similar."
The Army, Westphal added, is in the business of organizing, training and equipping forces for combat.
Extending the comparison to private industry, Westphal said the President of the United States could be considered as the chairman of the board, the Secretary of the Army as the chief executive officer and Congress as the board of directors. Westphal described himself as the Army's chief operations officer.
Westphal also noted that the Army also has a healthy and sometimes spirited competition with the Air Force and Navy.
"This competition drives us to become more efficient and effective as we compete for the same limited resources to produce the best products for our shareholders and consumers, who are the American public," Westphal said.
The undersecretary said that while the Army's mission has been constant in preserving America's peace and security, "we have continuously adapted our business model and our product to keep up with the times."
Westphal said that just as economic conditions affect how private industry does business, the same applies to the Army.
"The Army understands that we are not immune from the fiscal realities facing our nation and that we must be part of the solution," Westphal said. "As a service, we have the obligation to be stewards of our nation's resources."
The product of the Army's "business side" is the American Soldier, Westphal said.
"Our challenge, especially in today's environment is to provide you, our shareholders and consumers, the best product for your investment," Westphal told the New Jersey business group.
"We are promoting a culture of resource-informed decision making," Westphal said. "We are reforming our management processes and developing an integrated management system."
While noting the need for Army officials to act as prudent business managers, Westphal also cautioned against a short-sighted view during a climate of budget constraints.
"We must avoid what we have done in the past as we reduce spending," the undersecretary said.
"We cannot let our readiness atrophy, mortgage our future, or turn our backs on our Soldiers and families that have sacrificed so much over the past decade of war," he continued. "And we will not provide you with an inferior product."
Westphal said the strategic environment remains very uncertain, pointing to global trends such as increased demand for dwindling resources, persistent regional conflicts, empowered non-state actors and rapid technological innovation.
Earlier in the day, Westphal toured various facilities at Picatinny Arsenal, one of the largest employers in Morris County that develops 90 percent of the Army's armaments and ammunition. Picatinny was recently credited with developing six of the Army's 10 greatest inventions for 2010.
"Every Soldier down-range has a piece of Picatinny in their pocket," Picatinny Commanding General Brig. Gen. Jonathan A. Maddux told Westphal during a briefing. Maddux was referring to the broad range of ammunition and armaments developed by organizations at Picatinny Arsenal.
Westphal also received briefings from Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Herb Koehler and Gerardo Melendez, director of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, known as ARDEC.
During his briefing, Melendez told Westphal that ARDEC was working to expand the organization's business portfolio with opportunities in systems engineering and logistics. He also noted that ARDEC was reaching out to establish technical collaborations with scientists and engineers in other countries.
Westphal, whose group of visitors included U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, said the importance of having a technically experienced civilian workforce such as the one at Picatinny is not always readily apparent from an outside perspective.
"Without what you do here, we can't support the warfighter," Westphal said.