ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Top leaders from the U.S. Army Materiel Command and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology stressed partnership and joint efforts to strengthen the materiel enterprise at a meeting Nov. 5.
Hon. Heidi Shyu, ASA (ALT), and Gen. Dennis L. Via, AMC commanding general, co-chaired the Joint Acquisition Sustainment Review at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. This was the first event designed to create a better partnership and increased synchronization between the two organizations.
Shyu began by emphasizing the importance of the relationship between AMC and ASA (ALT).
"There's no better partner than Gen. Via and AMC. We are absolutely dependent on each other for success," said Shyu. "We have to mutually increase collaboration and streamline operations, and determine how we're going to walk down this path together."
Via echoed Shyu's comments, stressing the need to align functions, roles, authorities and responsibilities, and work toward interdependent organizations.
"Today is the beginning of the most important meeting between our communities. In this room are the people who sustain and equip our Army," Via said. "We have to build trust and transparency, and it starts with us here."
Neither leader minced words acknowledging the fiscal constraints and budget uncertainty, but focused instead on working together to face the challenges. Shyu shared her five priorities for ASA (ALT) during today's fiscally constrained environment. First and always, she said, is support to the Soldiers in the fight, and ensuring they have the materiel they need to accomplish the mission.
Second is the retrograde of equipment out of Afghanistan by December 2014, a "monumental task that makes the Iraq retrograde look easy," she said. Third is resetting equipment so that units are prepared and ready for the next contingency.
Her fourth priority is modernization and incrementally upgrading current platforms. Shyu noted her focus on mission command and considering "what's good enough," recognizing the inability to afford everything that may be wanted. She also highlighted the importance of continued investments in science and technology to enable the Army to develop next-generation technology.
Fifth is creating efficiencies and increasing collaboration between AMC and ASA (ALT). Shyu is working toward several initiatives, including synchronizing funding, strengthening the materiel enterprise's better buying power, and consolidating Program Executive Offices, especially headquarters staff functions.
Communications-Electronics Command hosted this first JASR. Leaders from CECOM, Research Development and Engineering Command, and related PEOs brought up several concerns and issues, and ways to bridge the gap and work closer together.
At the forefront of the conversation were manning and workforce during a period of reshaping. To best meet the needs of both commands, PEOs are working toward providing more predictability of matrix requirements. Leaders are also exploring options to transfer qualified employees between organizations when the skill sets and vacancies match. If a Life Cycle Management Command has to eliminate a position, but a PEO has a vacancy for a similar skill set, AMC and ASA (ALT) want the flexibility to allow employees to transfer.
The group also discussed program reviews and the lifecycle support process across the materiel enterprise. Shyu stressed the need to conduct routine Program Reviews, and include AMC representatives, for transparency and consistency, a process she said is widely used within industry. The reviews would give AMC a better timeline for when systems and programs would transition to sustainment. The end state is that both ASA (ALT) and AMC have visibility of programs through the entire lifecycle.
"Today's meeting has given a better appreciation for the complexity facing us," Via said. "We have a unique opportunity to shape our Army for our future. We won't always agree, but we will rise above and determine what's in the best interest of our Army, our Soldiers, and our materiel enterprise."
While leadership had intended to host JASRs quarterly at each of the LCMCs, the conversation and discussion spurred Via and Shyu to speed up the timeline. They now intend to chair similar meetings at Redstone Arsenal focused on the Aviation community, Rock Island Arsenal focused on the Munitions community, and Warren, Mich., focused on the Tank and Automotive community -- in back-to-back months.
"We must work together to face challenges collectively. The Army will lose if we sub-optimize," said Shyu. "We need to strategically position ourselves to come out as a stronger Army."