By Kari Hawkins, Army Materiel Command April 7, 2017
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Two of Army Materiel Command's general officers expressed a commitment to grow the Army's capabilities with enhanced reliance on both active duty and Reserve component Soldiers during an AMC Army Reserve Element professional development meeting for warrant officers at Redstone Arsenal April 5.
But getting to that end point will take some time, they warned.
The Army needs to bring back the fundamentals of maintenance and sustainment, said AMC Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Larry Wyche. Doing so would lessen the Army's dependency on contractor support while re-gaining Soldier capabilities both at installations and in theater.
"We didn't get in this position overnight, so we won't fix this overnight," Wyche said. "We see non-commissioned officers and warrant officers getting more involved. How do we get back to the point of fundamentals? We need to teach them in the schoolhouse and employ them in our operational force."
Contractors will always be part of the Army mix in providing the best equipment and support to the warfighter, Wyche said. That's been the case since the War of 1812, and especially escalated during the past 16 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, "the goal is to minimize dependence to the greatest point possible," he said.
Professional development programs will build Army leadership, while technical training will further Soldier capabilities, Wyche said, predicting it will take five years to retool Army Soldiers for maintenance and sustainment missions.
"We've lost those skills and have to work on building those skills back up. We're selling out readiness by not relying on Soldiers to sustain the Army," he said.
Both active duty and Reserve warrant officers have a significant role in leading Soldiers in technical roles, Maj. Gen. Allan Elliott, AMC deputy chief of staff, told the Reserve warrant officers.
"Get out there among our Soldiers. Help them understand what right looks like, execute their mission, and provide the outcome needed by the Army and its combatant commanders," Elliott urged.
Regardless of whether they are Reserve or active duty, civilian or contractor, the bottom line is to provide warfighters -- America's sons and daughters -- the equipment and support needed to ensure they outmatch their adversary, Elliott said.
"If our Soldiers are in a war fight, they should never be in a fair fight. They should never be out gunned. They should never be ill prepared. We need to outfit our Army to be the best equipped and best prepared Army on the planet. We do that pretty well. But there's always room for improvement," he said.
Seventy-eight percent of the Army's sustainment formation is in the Reserve Component, Elliott said, adding that Reserve readiness is challenged by out-of-date hardware and software, and equipment that has been kept in storage. Just like the active duty Soldier, Reservists need to be operationalized so they are ready to go when called on.
"Our organization has done a tremendous job in building capacity and capability," Elliott told the Reservists. "They see you as U.S. Army Soldiers. You are supporters of AMC and the Army. That's the expectation."
Both Elliott and Wyche urged the Reserve warrant officers to provide leadership needed to create positive change in the Army.
"Sometimes our job isn't to provide solutions. It's to point out problems, issues and challenges so that 'big' Army has awareness," Elliott said. "If we want to make it better, we need to identify challenges and elevate them."
Wyche encouraged the Reserve warrant officers to lead efforts in building Army capability.
"Help us change the game. Don't put limitations on your thinking," Wyche said. "Our Army needs you. Our sons and daughters need you. The United States of America needs you."