Army Materiel Command leader visits Joint Munitions Command headquarters
September 19, 2012
Gen. Dennis Via, commander U.S. Army Materiel Command, visited the Joint Munitions Command headquarters Sept. 18. He met with Brig. Gen. Kevin O'Connell, commander Joint Munitions Command, and senior staff after officiating at an Army Sustainment Command assumption of command ceremony.
The trip was Via's first visit to JMC headquarters since he became AMC Commanding General on August 7. Via's prior assignment was as AMC's Deputy Commanding General.
Via emphasized the importance of the Army's industrial base. He said, "The barracks we have today are not the barracks we had when I joined the Army. We made a conscious decision to invest in barracks for our young Soldiers, and we sustained that commitment over the years. We have not done that with the industrial base. We need sustained effort to maintain the industrial base.
JMC briefed Via on how, when the war started after 9/11, the command was unable to ramp up production quickly enough. Walt Songaila from JMC's industrial base directorate explained that Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri had been producing 350 million rounds of small caliber ammunition annually, and needed to increase that to more than a billion rounds per year. "We went to the commercial sector, around the world, and they could only supply another 300 million rounds on the high end," Songaila explained. "They couldn't meet our requirements and struggled to meet US military quality standards."
He added that JMC has expanded Lake City's capacity since then, so that is no longer an issue for small caliber bullets. He used that as an example of how the Army's industrial base must be preserved for conflict, and explained that JMC sites do what commercial firms can't do or don't want to do (not profitable or dangerous/hazardous): provide the insurance that surge requirements can be met.
Via also discussed JMC's role in providing DoD readiness in this budget environment. He said, "The onus is on us to lay out what we do for joint warfighters. Ammunition has not been an issue since you fixed it in 2002. However, in a declining resources environment, we need to articulate the cost of doing business and the risks involved. I've found, when people understand the risks, they'll do the right thing. This is about readiness. We have to be able to respond to that Soldier, that Sailor, Airman or Marine when they need it."
From its headquarters in Rock Island, Ill., JMC operates a nationwide network of conventional ammunition manufacturing plants and storage depots, and provides on-site ammunition experts to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. JMC's customers are U.S. forces of all military services, other U.S. Government agencies, and allied nations.