Sustainment key for Army's deployed systems
May 16, 2012
The Army's drawdown will affect all of its commands and organizations along with its Soldiers and civilian employees.
But work being done at the Aviation and Missile Command's senior leadership level will hopefully prevent any serious, long-lasting effects to the Army's aviation, missile and caliberation systems, and the civilian employees that support them.
In his last town hall with AMCOM's employees Thursday in Bob Jones Auditorium, AMCOM commander Maj. Gen. Jim Rogers told the work force that recent reduction-in-force drills are preparing the command for the "what ifs" of the next few years. Rogers is retiring on June 1.
Rogers said there will "probably" be a reduction-in-force for the Army's civilian work force in the fiscal 2016 or 2017 timeframe.
"How much, though, we're not sure," he said. "In the next 20 to 30 years we will be in a sustainment mode, we will be fighting for our Army.
"As the war fight continues, aviation and missile systems are the most deployed systems in the Army. My message to you is 'Be careful where you take your cuts. Sustainment must be maintained on all this equipment and AMCOM must continue to be the provider of choice, even if it means having to take money from other areas to support sustainment of systems.'"
With 38 systems in sustainment, AMCOM's role could very likely increase as the Army cuts funds for new systems out of future budgets.
"As more cuts continue to go, we will not modernize as quickly as we'd like to," Rogers said. "We have to ensure our systems' airworthiness and materiel readiness so that Soldiers have the safest piece of equipment that we can provide."
In considering budget cuts, the Army should consider, first, the war fighter and the effect cuts will have on their ability to do their job. If it doesn't affect the war fighter, then that's an area that can be cut, Rogers said.
AMCOM leadership has been involved in initiatives -- such as Task Force Redstone and the AMCOM Staff Study -- to find ways to gain synergies and integration that would reduce costs and gain efficiencies without losing effectiveness. Centralizing business office functions is one area being considered.
"We are trying to get ahead of the 'what if' thing," AMCOM deputy commander Ronnie Chronister said. "Can I find some efficiencies? We are going to continue to do these kinds of things because we are trying to work this where we can manage this."
Talk of budget cuts can have negative impacts on the work environment. But Rogers encouraged employees to remember they are each important to the AMCOM mission and that they should get involved in finding efficiencies.
"Keep the faith and keep trying to improve your foxhole," he said. "Make us so effective and efficient that they can't live without us. We are already light years ahead, but we can't sit on our laurels."
The changes that have already occurred are part of AMCOM's transformation, which involves more than 30 teams working for changes that will incorporate both efficiencies and effectiveness. Rogers hopes the transformation will prevent AMCOM from being forced to lose employees, such as the 272 positions that will be cut by fiscal 2013. Those positions were cut through retirements, attrition and reassignment.
"I'd like to say it's going to be over after that. But I don't think it is," Rogers said. "We are streamlining different things to reduce our costs so we can better situate ourselves for any more cuts coming our way."
Defense spending trends show there are always substantial cuts -- up to 70 percent of spending highs -- following a war or conflict involving the U.S. In peacetime, troop numbers and spending levels always go down. But, Rogers said, even in peacetime AMCOM must sustain its systems.
AMCOM must give the Army Materiel Command "real numbers" as to how aviation, missile and test systems will be affected if there are deep funding cuts.
"Everything we adjust or change affects something else," he said. "Changes affect everyone in this room. That's why we have to be synergistic. And we have to look at what 'right' looks like. We have to ensure we can support the mission and find efficiencies."
Even with budget cuts, AMCOM will still focus on its seven priorities: Support the Soldier throughout the ARFORGEN cycle; Enable, support and improve weapon systems life cycle success; Recruit, develop and sustain a top performing war fighter; Integrate security assistance into the materiel enterprise; Install a culture of efficiency without sacrificing effectiveness; Leverage materiel enterprise relationships and collaborations to derive measurable benefit to the Soldier; and Assure technology protection.
So far in fiscal 2012, AMCOM transformation has resulted in $1 billion in reductions in non-labor costs, which make up 84 percent of the $6 billion AMCOM budget. There has been a 25 percent reduction in reset cost by missile defense systems in fiscal 2012 and a 10 percent reduction in the Test Measurement and Diagnostic Activity's operating costs between 2011 and 2016.
There have also been reductions in inventory, increases in foreign military sales repairs, improvements in the supply chain and reductions in spares processing. In addition, on-hand inventory has been reduced by $1.4 billion and backorders reduced by $633.8 million with AMCOM returned $87.2 million to the Army due to reductions in cost, redundancy and turnaround time.
"If you've got ideas, we want you to be part of the solution," Rogers said. "If you've got ideas that might improve things, bring them to us. That's pretty powerful."