ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill.-- For their senior capstone project, five U.S. Military Academy cadets studied Joint Munitions Command's Government-Owned Contractor-Operated installations where munitions are produced, stored and demilitarized.

The cadets studied the ammunition GOCOs because of their unique managerial structure and their capabilities that are important to the Army and the Joint Force.

"For JMC, this was a great opportunity to get a new perspective on the challenges that face the industrial base," said Stefani Miner, JMC's deputy chief of staff for logistics. The logistics directorate manages JMC installations that comprise the ammunition organic industrial base (OIB). Directorate staff worked with the cadets and their capstone advisor, USMA instructor Maj. Daniel Newell.

The cadets visited several GOCO locations, including Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Lake City Army Ammunition Plant and Scranton Army Ammunition Plant.

While at the installations, the cadets viewed a number of munitions manufacturing processes, asking questions of both government employees and contractor representatives to learn about different aspects of operating a GOCO. The team conducted more than 30 interviews in order to get varying perspectives on the OIB.

Additionally, the cadets visited Letterkenny Munitions Center and the Quad City Cartridge Case Facility (QCCCF) to gain a different view of operations within Government-Owned Government-Operated facilities.

During the 9-month journey, the cadets gained knowledge of how the JMC-owned GOCOs operate. They learned about the challenges that contractors face with variable demand requirements and the complex job JMC has in managing many diverse plants with varying interests, varying sources of funding and many contracting intricacies.

Among the outputs of the capstone project was a template for Performance Work Statements. This template categorizes sections of PWSs and aligns the numbering scheme in a standardized way, while allowing for customization required for the differences in GOCOs. The cadets also provided best business practice approaches and recommendations that could be considered for use in future facility management contracts.

"The cadets found it to be a very eye-opening and valuable senior capstone experience. They were exposed to a side of the Army which many Soldiers and Officers currently serving are actually unaware of: the details behind how much of the equipment they use is manufactured and produced in the Organic Industrial Base," said Newell. "Having this experience will make them better officers because their perspective has broadened and grown into a deeper understanding of how the equipment they actually use was originally contracted, produced and shipped."

The cadets briefed their final project in early May during the Capstone Conference Brief at West Point and will be graduated on May 25. Following graduation, they will start their next Army chapter as second lieutenants.

For JMC, the command received both an outside perspective and also had a chance to expose future officers to the JMC mission and the importance and exceptionality of the ammunition industrial base.

"Through this experience, the cadets learned about how the ammunition industrial base supports the Army and the Joint Services, an understanding they should find useful for future leadership positions. They may command one of these installations in the future, or be involved in the development of the weapons or munitions this base supports," Miner said. Most of the GOCO installations are commanded by lieutenant colonels.