Secretary of Defense visits RRAD: Gates says depot will continue in "critical role"
May 19, 2008
Texarkana, TX - May 3, 2008 - Secretary of Defense Robert Gates applauded the dedicated work completed by the men and women of Red River Army Depot during a tour of the facility on Friday, May 3.
Gates, along with over 40 military officials, toured several production lines including HMMWV, HEMTT, Rubber Products, Bradley transmission and the 25 mm area. He also viewed a HMMWV Egress Awareness Training (HEAT) simulator during the tour.
"I come away impressed by the skill and the commitment of the men and women who work here, and also by the fact that by refurbishing and resetting this equipment, ultimately they save the taxpayers millions of dollars every year," said Gates during a press conference after touring the facility.
Gates, escorted during the tour by RRAD Commander Col. Douglas J. Evans, stopped at various stations shaking hands with members and watched intensely as they worked to finish the tasks of the day.
"Red River has always come through in times of war," he said. "During the 1940s it ramped up for tank repair and today it provides life-saving equipment for our fighting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."
During his two-hour tour, Gates recognized the positive impact of RRAD embracing Lean-Six Sigma methodologies to return vehicles to the Warfighter in the field in the most efficient and quickest way possible.
HMMWV production has seen a major increase since it's beginning, when the line was only barely producing two vehicles per week. Currently the area is capable of producing 32 vehicles a day.
"As long as we're involved in significant combat operations, Red River is going to continue to play a critical role for us," said Gates. "We will continue to need vehicles in the field so I see this being a continuous high priority for quite some time."
Gates credits the great success of the depot to the continuous support of the community. "Their success is possible because of the close bond with the community," he said.
Before entering his present post as the 22nd Secretary of Defense, Gates was the President of Texas A&M University, the nation's seventh largest university. He served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. Gates is the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to Director.
During the press conference, he referred to Red River as being one of the military's "largest and oldest facilities."
"The people here at Red River Army Depot are clearly on a war footing," he said. "Their dedication to our troops can be summed up by a placard that the workers place inside each vehicle. It reads: 'We build it as if our lives depend on it. Theirs do.'"