By Audra Calloway, Picatinny Arsenal Public AffairsJuly 1, 2016
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- During a visit to Picatinny, the Army's top civilian for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology told employees and leaders that she appreciated the innovative work done at the Arsenal.
Honorable Katrina McFarland, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, or ASA (ALT), and the Army Acquisition Executive, visited Picatinny Arsenal June 29, to familiarize herself with the installation, its organizations and missions.
McFarland oversees over 36,000 acquisition professionals, civilian and military, who collectively oversee Army research, development and total acquisition lifecycle activities totaling more than $20 billion in Fiscal Year 2016 alone.
"The first thing that struck me was the beauty of the place -- to me it was very, very amazing to see an organization embedded in a location for 247 years," McFarland said of Picatinny.
"And so productive," she continued. "That was the second thing that I found was how much is going on here, both from a joint perspective, but also within the Army and across the Army in a very critical area so important to the future and the current state of the Army - and to the Navy -- and to the Air Force - and to the Department of Homeland Security -- I could go on, it's amazing."
During her visit, McFarland met with Picatinny employees and senior leaders, including Brig. Gen. Patrick W. Burden, Deputy Program Executive Officer Ammunition and Senior Commander of Picatinny; James Shields, Program Executive Officer Ammunition, and John Hedderich, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center Director.
"We were so delighted to have Honorable McFarland visit Picatinny so we could put Picatinny's unique armaments technical and management expertise on display for her," said Shields.
"Here at Team Picatinny, our various Army and joint organizations work together to provide life-saving technologies to our warfighters - Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines," Shields said. "Our engineers, scientists and support personnel develop, produce and field the world's best ammunition and weapons systems and are always innovating in order to defeat any threat the U.S. military may face."
Picatinny employees provided McFarland updates on new and future technology that the Arsenal provides service members across the Department of Defense.
McFarland described the employees she talked to as "driven" individuals.
"Very innovative-driven, affordability-driven, Soldier, Sailor, Seaman, Airman-driven people," she said.
Technology updates included information on howitzer upgrades, a potential method of recycling ammunition propellant using algae, and GPS-guided artillery and mortar rounds.
During the visit, McFarland said a problem facing the Army, and the other services, is how to modernize technology given the current climate of declining defense budgets.
"What Picatinny is engaging in, which is innovation and taking a look at how to get more out of less, is the perfect match for what we have and what we need for our future. And that needs to continue," she said.
"I share the same pride of accomplishments that Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology McFarland feels about Team Picatinny," said Burden.
"Our team is the premier center of excellence for firepower, providing advanced armaments and munitions to our Warfighters," Burden continued. "I believe her visit reinforces the importance of Team Picatinny' s mission of ensuring our Warfighters have the technology to provide overmatch to defeat any adversary faced. The Soldiers and civilian employees of Team Picatinny are proud of our contributions to our Warfighters. I know that Secretary McFarland saw that pride of accomplishments today during her visit."
McFarland also participated in a hands-on demonstration, where she fired a sampling of guns and the U.S. Army's 5.56 millimeter service round, the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round, or EPR, and saw its effects on various targets.
The lead-free, environmentally friendly EPR was fielded in 2010. The new bullet design features a copper jacket and exposed hardened steel penetrator. These designs also contributed to a number of performance enhancements over the original 5.56 mm, to include better hard-target penetration, more consistent performance against soft targets and significantly increased distances of these effects.
Picatinny was designated the Joint Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammunition, providing products and services to all branches of the U.S. military. It is the third largest employer in Northwestern New Jersey, employing more than 6,000 employees, and provides 90 percent of the Army's lethality.
McFarland's day-long visit marks the first time that she has been to Picatinny as the Acting ASA (ALT) and Army Acquisition Executive.
The U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.