ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- The importance of the Army's workforce -- Soldiers and civilians -- was on full display during the People First Forum, held in Heritage Hall, April 17.

The People First Forum was a joint effort between the U.S. Army Sustainment Command, Joint Munitions Command, and Army Contracting Command-Rock Island, which are all major Rock Island Arsenal-based entities falling under the command of U.S. Army Materiel Command, located in Huntsville, Alabama.

The event educated employees about the importance of a professional, responsive, trained, experienced and resilient workforce capable of executing all Army and AMC priorities, using AMC's "Line of Effort 3" and ASC, JMC and ACC-RI's Strategic Alignment Plans as a backbone.
Gen. Gus Perna, commanding general, AMC, provided the keynote address, in which he stated the work AMC employees do establishes the baseline for the maneuvered force.

"They can't fight without what we do," said Perna. "We are responsible for everything. We are responsible for the materiel readiness of all the equipment in the entire force. We are responsible for the munitions of the entire force. We are responsible for the commodities, food, water, repair parts of the entire force. We are responsible for the contracting of the entire force. Without any of those things, our Army could not do its job."

While the missions AMC employees perform is vital, he sees a need for all employees to fully embrace his "100 percent accountability on 100 percent of the right work" directive.

"First and foremost, it is about making sure that everybody is doing their jobs," said Perna. "I know that is not happening today. Sessions like [the People First Forum] allow us to see ourselves and help us to grow -- to understand what we are trying to achieve and make those around us be a part of that."

Perna indicated there are areas of the workforce where personnel are doing more than their share of work, while other employees were underutilized. He discussed his efforts to balance that out and reach employees with a capacity and desire to do great work, but lack appropriate training and empowerment, which opportunities like the People First Forum provide.

"I want to contribute to your success so that you can contribute to our success," said Perna. "That's what this is about. There's 120,000 people in Army Materiel Command, and we need every single one of you. I need you all playing and I need you playing hard."

Perna also enforced the need for people to take responsibility for their own careers.

"How do we make sure we are 100 percent ready," asked Perna. "How do we train and educate our workforce? We are professionals and by definition, a professional is trained and self-educate. By definition, that is what makes us different from any other Army in the world, not only our uniformed service, but our civilian service."

Ensuring the workforce is trained, knowledgeable and working at 100 percent is vital when connecting the dots on current events from around the world to what AMC's responsibility is, Perna said. He also said the peaks and valleys of war and peacetime do not exist as they have in the past, so workload is not going down, requiring consistent execution to ensure readiness.

"The difference between being ready and reacting is going to be counted in the loss of American lives," said Perna. "Our responsibility for being ready for those fights, whether it's in Korea, or in Europe, is nothing like anybody in this room has seen … When you add all that up, the common denominator to our success is you."

Perna wrapped up his remarks with a question-and-answer session in which he addressed a range of topics including the purpose of Army Futures Command; how individuals at every level can support Army readiness on a daily basis; and the value of the DoD's new performance rating system.
Michael Hutchison, deputy to the commanding general, ASC, provided an introduction and closing remarks.

"We are here today to put people first because if we don't put people first, the rest of the enterprise is sure to fail," said Hutchison. "That's why Gen. Perna wanted to join us today. Because he knows that people are at the very center of what AMC and all of its subordinate commands do."

Following the official event, ASC, JMC and ACC-RI employees were invited to visit booths staffed by human capital initiative subject matter experts, including: Strategic Human Capital Plan, Training, Wellness, SHARP, Career Enhancement Opportunities Program, Equal Employment Opportunity, Safety, Religious Support, Surgeon, and Military Personnel. External subject matter experts included Acquisition Support Center, the Civilian Logistics Career Management Office, Rock Island Arsenal United Service Organizations, and the Army Management Staff College.

Feedback from participants in the event was positive overall, with steady participation at the booths.

"The attendees that I have had a chance to talk to found great value in the People First Forum," said Mark Mower, deputy director, ACC-RI. "Gen. Perna's speech was engaging and inspiring, and the booths provided a wide-range of information that the workforce can and should use to help them develop and improve their careers. I am proud to have been involved in an event like this and thank those who took the time to create it."

AMC manages the global supply chain, synchronizing logistics and sustainment activities across the Army through subcommands like ASC, JMC and ACC.