ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Senior leaders from Department of the Army Headquarters co-chaired a three-day Total Army Ammunition Authorization and Allocation Committee working group here, August 18-20.
Sue Carlson, Chief, Munitions Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, co-chaired the forum with Robert Grubbs, G-3/5/7, which included personnel from the Joint Munitions Command, the Program Executive Office for Ammunition and other Army commands, involved in the various aspects of managing ammunition.
Carlson has served as the munitions chief in the Pentagon since July of 2005. Prior to her current position, she served more than 24 years as an Ordnance Corps Officer in the U. S. Army working in munitions specific and logistics oriented assignments. She believes her experiences help her understand the holistic picture and allows her to see the impacts in the ammo community.
As the munitions chief, Carlson recognizes the environment in which the DoD must operate within sequestration. "We need to look at and realize, just like with previous conflicts, that we're on the downslide now, we have shrinking budgets and a shrinking force structure. We have to be able to posture ourselves in the ammo community to take advantage of any efficiencies and be prepared to selectively and collectively shrink our infrastructure the way we want it to go. It's going to get interesting when we get to the point where we have to cut the meat of the operation. We can become non-functional and that's not where we want to go."
Carlson also notices strengths in the ammo community. "JMC has the capability to run the industrial base, and they do it very well. They also have far-thinking staff that are willing to tackle the hard issues that need to be addressed in the next five years as we face sequestration and shrinking budgets."
There are always concerns about the future and direction of the ammunition industrial base. Carlson believes we must have the capability and capacity to surge up production and ship ammo when it is required.
"We must maintain the capability and capacity, either organically or through contractor supported effort to be able to surge and produce what we need in a timely manner," she said. "It is a balancing act as we look at the industrial base infrastructure the Army needs. Do we need to own it or do you rely on a contractor to fully source it." She noted that we must maintain the capability to ship and store ammo. "Outload and storage will always be an organic function that we will need to do."
Currently, the Army's ammunition industrial base has supported wartime efforts by meeting requirements with the 14 installations that produce, ship and store conventional ammunition. These facilities are managed by the Joint Munitions Command, headquartered on the Rock Island Arsenal.
There is always room for improvement. Carlson believes JMC needs to work on its relationship with other commands concerning Class V ammunition. "It's hard when all the expertise resides in JMC and other commands run the logistics operation." She also sees a need in improvement with explosive safety. "The whole Army needs to focus on explosive safety, if there is one area we don't do very well at, it's that. We need to get the safety message out better to the ammo community."
Carlson has been involved in the ammunition business for most of her military and civilian career. She believes ammo management is a great career, and recommends that individuals apply for either the intern program for ammunition quality assurance or ammo management. There are also grassroots career program efforts and 90-day developmental assignments that are available to broaden the experiences of current DoD employees not currently in the ammo field.
There are always challenges that face the ammunition community. Carlson believes the level of expertise has declined. "The Army no longer grows ammunition officers and I think the civilian workforce needs to try harder to apply for those types of jobs to understand and help grow the strategic view."
The goal of the mission-critical TA4C working group was to synchronize ammunition requirements throughout the Army, based on operational and training requirements and supply availability. A total of 568 conventional ammunition items, ranging from small-caliber ammunition to large artillery rounds were reviewed.
Approximately 135 ammunition managers attended the forum which allowed commands, worldwide, to meet for the dual purpose of both requesting authorizations and/or requesting allocations for conventional ammunition based on current and projected requirements and forecasted asset availability.
"Requirements and logistics representatives from all Army commands attended the working group, as well as representatives from PEO Ammunition. The primary purpose was to synchronize Army requirements and priorities with available and projected supply," said Carlson.
Carlson believes the TA4C is very successful. In June 2006, the working group was established by merging the Committee for Ammunition Logistics Support Conference and the Training Ammunition Authorization Conference. Each conference previously worked independently, but combining the working groups has led to a better distribution of assets.
"The TA4C allows the G3 and G4, of not only the Army, but all the commands, to synchronize the requirements against supply," Carlson added. "It helps us to streamline the process and pulling them together and being there in the same room, allows us to get a much better picture at our level. It shows future potential problems that we can help influence with ammo buys, so that we're much better situated for the future."
Brig. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, JMC commander, provided opening remarks, welcomed the working group attendees and thanked them for their efforts. Farmen emphasized and encouraged the 'teamwork' needed to support the Joint Services requirements as essential for the success of the ammunition community.
JMC produces small-, medium-, and large-caliber ammunition items for the Department of Defense. It is the logistics integrator for life-cycle management of ammunition and provides a global presence of technical support to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. JMC's logistics operation is unique to the Department of Defense and its industrial base is an important asset in support of the Warfighter. The primary mission of JMC is to manage the production, storage, issue, and demilitarization of conventional ammunition for all U.S. Military Services.