WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. (Army News Service, Jan. 22, 2009) - The new program manager of Army modernization pledged his support to Soldiers and his commitment to the success of Future Combat Systems during a visit to White Sands Missile range Jan. 12.

Maj. Gen. John R. Bartley took a tour of the Future Combat Systems facilities and introduced himself to the program's employees at White Sands.

"What I'm trying to do is get around and let everybody see me ... and to get a feel for the job," Bartley said.

Bartley toured several facilities, including the White Sands Common Control Node, which is being used to test FCS' new command and control software package this month.

Bartley also took the time to host a town hall meeting giving White Sands' employees a chance to meet him and ask questions about his plans for the Army's modernization program.

FCS is the heart of the Army's modernization program and features a large number of weapons, armored vehicles and unmanned aircraft and ground vehicles that will all be networked together to enhance the Army's ability to fight and share information.

Bartley served as the deputy program manager and the program executive officer for FCS under its previous leadership and is very knowledgeable about the program.

"What I'm always looking at is what the Soldier on the end is going to think... I'm not the kind of person to give the Soldier something that isn't better than what they've got," Bartley said.

Bartley attributes his commitment to producing the best systems possible to his experiences representing the Army at 23 memorial services for Soldiers that were killed in action.

"It's hard to do, and it tears me up, but it makes me that much more committed to these new systems," Bartley said.

Bartley also spoke about how important it is to have good and motivated employees on his program.

"I love my job... because it's what we do, and that is working with great people. When I feel down I just think about the people I'm working with and the Soldiers that are using what we're developing," Bartley said.

Bartley also spoke about how important it is for his employees to be innovative, and encouraged them to work on developing solutions to any problems that they find in the program.

"Everyone here is pretty high paid, so if you bring me a problem, bring me a solution... the program is too big for me to deal with every single problem," Bartley said. He said that scheduling and efficiency are key points and he warned project managers to maintain realistic goals and keep their schedules. He made it a point to say that multiple changes in project completion dates would not be tolerated.

With the change in presidential administration, one question on everyone's mind was the future of FCS. Bartley said the program's current concern should be the spin out of the first batch of systems to be fully fielded, and the further development of systems that have begun testing, like the new self-propelled non-line of sight cannon.

At this time Bartley said he has no information on any possible changes to the program, but he does expect some restructuring to take place, although he doesn't think that will change the program dramatically.

"We've restructured the program every two years, so nothing has changed," Bartley said.

(Drew Hamilton writes for the Missile Ranger newspaper at White Sands.)