By Megan GullyApril 18, 2019
Editor's note: The joint force is preparing for large scale combat across land, sea, air, space and cyberspace. Under the Multi-Domain Operations concept, Army Materiel Command has reorganized and reshaped to ensure readiness of the Strategic Support Area, where military might is generated, projected and sustained during the fight. This article is the second in a series highlighting seven focus areas to achieve that goal: Supply Availability and Equipment Readiness; Industrial Base Readiness; Installation Readiness; Strategic Power Projection; Munitions Readiness; Soldier and Family Readiness; and Logistics Information Readiness.
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- For more than two centuries, no matter the equipment or part, when a Warfighter needed something repaired, upgraded or modernized, the country's industrial base delivered.
As the joint force prepares for multi-domain operations, the Army and industry must work together to be ready for the next contingency before it happens, said Gen. Gus Perna, AMC Commanding General.
"Industrial base readiness is our ability for our arsenals, depots and ammunition plants and commercial industry partners to operate, adapt and modernize," said Perna.
The defense industrial base encompasses a joint effort of both industry facilities and the Army's Organic Industrial Base. Perna equated the base's necessary modernization to the industrial improvements the Army and industry made before World War II, which allowed the military to surge quickly.
"We had great leaders that had a vision prior to World War II. They understood the partnerships and capabilities that would be required would have to come at a moment's notice," he said.
In preparation for the next contingency, the Army is working with industry to build those partnerships now, taking a holistic look at its own capabilities, across the entire OIB.
"They [WWII leadership] didn't wait for the call; they started as early as 1937. It wasn't until 1943 when the first equipment and munitions were needed, but because of foresight, our Army was ready," Perna said.
The Army's OIB, managed by Army Materiel Command, includes 23 manufacturing arsenals, maintenance depots and ammunition plants. Located across the nation, from New York to California, each directly generates readiness, specializing in everything from rotary wing repair to 3D printing.
To maintain a strategic advantage, the OIB must be ready to respond to the Army's needs no matter what they are, Perna said.
"We need to meet not only today's requirements, but the surge requirements in the next war," said Perna.
Preparing the next generation of Army equipment developed by U.S. Army Futures Command and the Cross Functional Teams is a key piece of the industrial base's modernization efforts.
"We must resource and modernize the OIB to provide capabilities to support and sustain the next generation of equipment," said Perna. "The things Army Futures Command is bringing to fruition over the next 10 to 20 years, 30 years, we have to develop the industrial base to support them today, not after they arrive."
To prepare for those future requirements, logisticians are integrated with AFC and the CFTs to make sure that sustainment is a top consideration for modernization priorities, said Gerald Bates, AMC's civilian deputy, supply chain management directorate.
"When the time comes for a system to transition from the production side to sustainment, we will be ready to perform the sustainment functions without any interruption to the Warfighter," Bates said.
Existing and new partnerships between Army and industry will better prepare the entire base for future requirements, said Bates.
"When we reach out to our industry partners, that allows us to maximize the organic capability to overhaul and repair equipment," said Bates. "What better place to go to for a maintenance issue than the original manufacturer."
Bates said industry plays a crucial role in providing supply chain support and technology insertions as they modernize systems.
"As they perform upgrades, they continue to use those sources of supply," he said. "Both the organic and commercial bases need to be kept warm so they can surge in the event the Army needs to deploy."
Maintaining that consistent level of work, or continuing to prime the pump, in the industrial base is what keeps the facilities and the workforce prepared for those contingencies.
"Right now we are training our artisans to perform the same functions you need to support a surge, the difference being the tempo," said Bates. "Keeping the lines warm allows us to refine and maintain those critical skills sets, and that ranges from the human capital side, the plant equipment you use, to the facilities they are housed in."
The human capital - the workforce - is a key piece of the industrial base, Perna said.
"The work these great artisans do every day provide the best equipment the world has ever seen on our battlefield," said Perna. "Our Soldiers know when they take a piece of equipment on the battlefield it will survive enemy contact. It will be ready. It will not break down. It will be able to maneuver and decisively engage the enemy."