By Kari HawkinsMarch 19, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The Aviation and Missile Command's quarterly update with its higher headquarters leadership began March 12 with employee recognitions, setting a tone of accomplishment and capability that permeated the meeting's discussions on readiness, supply availability, supply chain management and sustainment.
The six recognized employees set the stage for reviewing AMCOM's reforms and progress in seven strategic support focus areas, its reorganizational strides in support of Shape the Fight, aviation and missile materiel readiness improvements, management of supply availability and organizational investments.
"This is a great roadmap here," Army Materiel Command's Commander Gen. Gus Perna said as he reviewed AMCOM's current accomplishments and future goals. "I really appreciate this because if you don't know where you are at then you don't know where you are going and how you are going to get there."
AMCOM's seven strategic areas, which were established based on feedback from Perna, include: Support to Acquisition, Sustainment Logistics, Field Maintenance, Calibration, Security Assistance, Contracting and Engineering Support.
"These are the core competencies we have at AMCOM that will drive us to the future," Bill Marriott, AMCOM's acting commander, said. "This is an apt and appropriate representation of how we do our mission, and how we are working to fix processes, and make sure we have the right people in the right place for the right output."
As AMCOM reshapes to become more "Amazon-like" in its delivery of aviation and missile equipment, Marriott told Perna the organization is facing several challenges - employee vacancies, contract constraints, need for new technologies and funding shortfalls - that make change and reform more difficult and more gradual.
Marriott would like to see AMCOM become more flexible and adaptable to Soldier needs in the field, faster in the processes it uses to address sustainment issues and leaner when it comes to contractor reliance.
"We spend $345 million a year in engineering services on seven different contracts with each directorate," he said. "We need to say what the requirements are and how much we're going to spend, and where we want to go with a contract."
Perna agreed, saying contracts need to provide the right products to make AMCOM even better at providing aviation and missile systems.
"What are we buying? Is it the right equipment and is it making us better? Is it the right output to the requirement? Are you spending on the right things?" Perna asked.
While Marriott said "I absolutely believe we are spending the Army's money in the right way," he also said spending can be more efficient and AMCOM leaders must ask the tougher questions when committing funding for contracts.
"We are going to dig into it and make sure we have the right requirements drivers as part of Shape the Fight," Marriott added. "We are going to continue to scrutinize to get to the outputs we need, to deliver the sustainment and supply chain management we need, and to continue investing in our global mission."
While Perna said he appreciates the leadership efforts in reforming AMCOM and reducing expenses, he also stressed the need to cut further by reducing a reliance on contractors.
"If you are keeping that funding level, then are you getting the output that you want? Or are you producing work that is not in support of what we were doing and not leading to anything? If you are just producing work, then so what? You really need to dig into it," Perna said.
As part of the Army Modernization Strategy, AMCOM is reforming itself to provide better sustainment, Marriott said. "We are focusing on getting in on the front end of the acquisition process to make sure sustainment has a higher priority," he said, when contracts are negotiated and awarded.
Those are the right kinds of steps to take, Perna said, to ensure a high output throughout the organization.
"We need organizations where people are treated right, they are doing their mission, and they feel good about being here and that's why they stay," he said.
"I am holding commanders and leaders responsible for taking care of people, and I am holding them accountable for the morale and welfare inside their organizations. We want organizations that are proud of what they are doing and treating their people right. Do that and let people do their job."
Other issues discussed included operational readiness rates, foreign military sales reform, Corpus Christi Army Depot and Letterkenny Army Depot performance metrics, aviation and missile performance drivers, supply chain contracting reform, audit readiness and a logistician training program.
"This has been a great update with excellent dialogue," Perna said as the meeting ended. "I really appreciate it. Everybody is nested. I can feel the idea of reform and reorganization penetrating the organization. I feel we are all leaning in and getting way beyond the symptom chasing and finding the causes of the symptoms. There is no doubt this organization will keep moving in the right direction."