The work of nearly 400 Aviation and Missile Command engineers was recognized Nov. 30 for innovative designs and modifications that not only saved the Army money but also made the mission easier for Soldiers.

Maj. Gen. Doug Gabram, commander of the Aviation and Missile Command, presented plaques and certificates to several groups of engineers that were recognized by the Department of Defense Value Engineering Achievement Awards program earlier in 2016. The Nov. 30 AMCOM ceremony was held at the Sparkman Center's Bob Jones Auditorium.

AMCOM engineers completed 119 projects claiming a record $304 million in savings and cost avoidance for local organizations, and $32 million for a record 19 organizations outside of Team Redstone. In an unofficial count last year, it was determined that 392 employees participated in supporting AMCOM VE projects, said Tom Reynolds, the value engineering manager for the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center who manages the AMCOM VE program.

"It takes hundreds of people to get these improvements implemented," Reynolds said.

The work of those engineers and their support teams address the Army chief of staff's number one priority of readiness.

"Every day you increase the readiness of our Army through efforts like mitigating obsolescence, you affect the Future Army through technology insertion, and you take care of our Soldiers by finding different ways to relieve their burdens through more efficient and effective ways to do their jobs," Gabram said.

As a Soldier, Gabram himself has been a recipient of the work of AMCOM engineers during his 32 years of service.

"I might not have fully understood the breadth of what you do, or the .50 cent words and technical jargon, but I lived with the benefit of projects like the ones you are going to receive awards on today on a daily basis," he said. "I understand improving reliability, quality and safety of my aircraft as well as reducing the burden on the Soldier in the field. I understand finding innovative ways to reduce costs wherever possible so that we remain ready and able to fight at a moment's notice as our budgets come down."

AMCOM is a recognized leader of value engineering throughout the Army and Department of Defense. In November, when the Federal Procurement Policy announced that all government agencies are required to establish a value engineering program, the AMCOM VE program was recognized as a model program and one of only half a dozen institutionalized with consistently good results, Reynolds said. Those good results have been consistent for the entire 31 years that AMCOM has had a value engineering program, Reynolds said.

"I truly believe that this Value Engineering Team is leading the way in innovative thinking … I don't know what other VE teams are producing, but I have to believe that this team is on top of its game and leading the way for the Army," Gabram said.

The accomplishments of AMCOM's VE program are impressive to anyone who understands the need to maintain and sustain aviation and air defense Soldiers while also responding to budgets reductions.

"When I came to AMCOM I had no idea what Value Engineering and Life Cycle Cost Reduction was. I mean, I could make an educated guess based on context, but I honestly had no idea what Value Engineering specifically entailed," Gabram said.

"I have since learned that the goal of Value Engineering is to generate a return on investment by improving a product or service in relation to the money expended on that effort. Put quite simply, its improving products and processes to improve the end result, and saving money. Reducing the cost of something is an obvious advantage of your work, but I truly appreciate the fact that you are also looking at non-monetary benefits to the Soldier."

Value Engineering projects such as the Utility Left-Hand/Right-Hand Outboard Stabilator with a three-year savings of $8 million and the Urgent Missile Requirement for Hellfire and JAGM with a three-year savings of $7 million are examples of projects that have a direct impact on Soldiers today and in the future. Besides the monetary savings driving Value Engineering, there are also benefits to the Soldier, such as the savings in time and the shipping process for a lithium battery when it was redesigned to reduce the amount of lithium so that it would no longer be considered hazardous material.

The following awards were presented at the AMCOM ceremony:
Value Engineering Award Plagues (Presented to directors and program managers of Team Redstone organizations that exceeded their Value Engineering savings goal in fiscal year 2016) -- Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, Aviation Ground Support Equipment Product Office, Air Traffic Control Product Office, Cruise Missile Defense Systems Project Office, Integrated Air and Missile Defense Project Office, Joint Attack Munition Systems Project Office, Letterkenny Army Depot, Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Project Office, Missile Defense Agency Test Resources Directorate, THAAD Project Office and Utility Helicopters Project Office.

Value Engineering Award Certificates (Presented to Value Engineering coordinators for their respective organization's participation and contributions toward the Team Redstone Value Engineering Program during fiscal year 2016) -- Alan Ashburn, Aviation Ground Support Equipment Product Office; Alivio Mangieri, Air Traffic Control Product Office; Jonathan Hill, Integrated Air and Missile Defense Project Office; Wesley Elmore, Letterkenny Army Depot; Dennis Werth, Missile Defense Agency Resources Directorate; Toni Hamilton-Datcher, THAAD Project Office; and Vicki Loewen, Utility Helicopters Project Office.

Life Cycle Cost Reduction Award Certificates (Presented to key Team Redstone personnel who made significant contributions to Life Cycle Cost Reduction projects during fiscal year 2016) -- Walter Viall, Cargo Helicopters Project Office; Cory Parks, Cruise Missile Defense Systems Project Office; and Crystal Malone, Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Project Office.

In addition, the Tarquine Award, which is a lifetime achievement award for Value Engineering, was presented to Ronald Medlock, an AMRDEC engineer at Fort Hood, Texas. Medlock develops repairs for aircraft parts and components to return them to serviceable condition, and uses his knowledge of the supply system to ensure technical decisions are synchronized with logistics decisions. His work in meeting the demands for repair assistance, critical supply relief and aircraft readiness for Blackhawks, Apaches, Kiowa's, and T-700 engines saved the Army $5.8 million in fiscal year 2016 and more than $21 million during the past five years.