The power of the Aviation and Missile Command's Unified Action initiative -- embedded in improved communications, acquisition requirements, sustainment priorities and strategic planning -- was highlighted Nov. 17 at the 44th Annual Joseph P. Cribbins Aviation Product Symposium at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.

William Marriott, AMCOM's Deputy Commander, provided the symposium with background on the Army Materiel Command's operational order signed in February that realigned the Army Contracting Command-Redstone and the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center with AMCOM.

"The goal is to integrate our capabilities in order to provide the highest readiness for our Soldiers," Marriott said. "The operational order Unified Action allows mission alignment. It allows us to maintain our mission of sustainment and to develop a holistic enterprise."

Unified Action is essential in AMCOM's role in "Maintaining Readiness in an Austere Environment," which was the theme for this year's Cribbins symposium. AMCOM's annual budget is challenged by competing requirements, the effects of sequestration, operations under a continuing resolution and the reductions in personnel, Marriott said.

"How can we operate within the limitations that we have? Operation Unified Action is how we ultimately get to improving and maintaining readiness for aviation and missile systems," he said.

In the past, the AMRDEC and the contracting function were part of AMCOM. Organizational shifts over the years changed that, although the aviation enterprise -- including the Program Executive Office for Aviation along with AMRDEC, ACC-Redstone and AMCOM -- still came together frequently to discuss development and sustainment priorities.

With Unified Action, Marriott said the lines of communication and strategic planning are more formalized while the team concept is more embedded in the organizations involved. There's proactive involvement in a holistic enterprise that allows prioritization and synchronization efforts to enable readiness. At the same time, there is optimization and control of life cycle costs.

"We are now a much more powerful organization," Marriott said.

To implement Unified Action, a mission analysis of the three organizations identified almost 150 tasks to accomplish to ensure a successful realignment, he said. One of those major tasks -- addressing acquisition lead time -- has shown a significant improvement in the amount of time to execute contracting actions.

"We have reduced the administrative contracts requirements package time, with AMCOM taking both authority and responsibility by developing a checklist for a standardized contracting package," Marriott said.

He said the work that has been accomplished "is one of those quick benefits, one of those quick wins we've seen from Unified Action."

AMCOM's vision and mission statements, with input from all its directorates including AMRDEC and ACC-R, have changed to reflect the environment created by Unified Action. Although the AMCOM vision did not change significantly, its mission did change to encompass all of AMCOM's partners.

With the vision, changes were made to put two priorities -- mission and employees -- at the forefront, with the vision stating: Mission First, People Always, enabling synchronized aviation, missile and calibration materiel enterprises providing unmatched capability for the Army and the nation.

"With this change to the vision statement, our employees can see our Commander's priorities. We will take care of our people," said Marriott, adding that with Unified Action, AMCOM has nearly doubled in size.

The mission -- AMCOM develops and delivers responsive aviation, missile and calibration materiel readiness to the U.S. Army in order to optimize joint warfighter capabilities at the point of need -- reflects the AMCOM operational capability being applied throughout the entire life cycle of a new and legacy aviation or missile systems. The key words, Marriott said, are "develops and delivers," "responsive," and "materiel readiness."

"At all times, we must operate from a sense of urgency. We must balance cost, performance, risk and best value," he said.

With AMCOM, AMRDEC and ACC-R focused on the AMCOM vision and mission, as well as its strategic priorities, there are improvements in the ability to affect readiness, to respond rapidly to Soldier needs; to be agile, synchronized and integrated in responding to Army priorities; to "deep dive" into all system portfolios about sustainment throughout the acquisition cycle; to prioritize across all stages of a system's life cycle based on Army priorities; and to work together in growing a team of adaptive professionals.

Marriott reviewed AMCOM's eight core competencies: Support to Acquisition; Sustainment Logistics; Research, Development and Engineering; Organic Industrial Base; Field/Sustainment Maintenance; Calibration; Security Assistance; and Contracting.

"AMCOM is now part of every milestone decision from a sustainment perspective," Marriott said.

But, it's Contracting where Unified Action can and will have the most immediate impact, he said.

"Everything flows through Contracting. Our speed of delivery is affected by the speed of contracts … We have to implement programs to optimize scheduled maintenance. We've got to get this right in this austere financial environment," Marriott said in closing.

he Cribbins theme, "Maintaining Readiness in an Austere Environment," was also the topic of discussion during the AMCOM leadership panel on Nov. 16 that included AMCOM Chief of Staff Col. Todd Royar and AMCOM Logistics Center Director John Smith.

Referring to attendees, Royar said, "The vast majority in this room have lived that. They've flown, fought and sustained in an austere environment."

Royar said it is imperative that better capabilities and sustainment are provided in support of the Army's number one priority of readiness. AMCOM is doing its part through Unified Action.

"It starts with getting the requirements correct for new systems and with leadership that is are fully engaged to make tough choices of what future systems will be," Royar said.

Those requirements will have to take into consideration that the future Army will be mobile and agile, and always on the move.

In line with that, Smith asked the group two questions: "How are we going to support tomorrow's fight? How do we change as we go forward?"