By Matthew Hickman, RDECOM Public AffairsJune 8, 2009
"It's about more than BRAC," summarized Col. Andrew B. Nelson, Aberdeen Proving Ground's deputy garrison commander for Transformation, after more than 200 Army leaders and planners spent May 29 reviewing the details of transferring thousands of people and jobs into and out of the installation as part of its transformation.
The event, the Rehearsal of Concept - or ROC - synchronization drill, was held in order to spot potential challenges and develop solutions so that the installation's transformation could stay on target.
"There are many other Army transformation initiatives that are evident here at the proving ground - other tenants that already exist here are growing, their mission sets are increasing because of the overseas contingency operations. The products and the services of our current tenants here are more in demand and their programs are being accelerated. So, we have to look, not only at what's happening with BRAC, we have to look full-encompassing on the entire transformation that happens at Aberdeen Proving Ground," Nelson explained.
The rehearsal of concept was led by the Army Materiel Command and hosted by Maj. Gen. Paul S. Izzo, installation commander and commander of the Research, Development and Engineering Command. Participants included Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey; Lt. Gen. James H. Pillsbury, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command; Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson, commanding general of the Installation Management Command; and Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, the Army staff's G-3/5/7.
Complementing the leaders was a beneficial process that helped them quickly identify and tackle problems, according to Nelson.
"The ROC Drill has provided a forcing function to bring to the table the entire multitude of issues surrounding the transformation of Aberdeen Proving Ground, BRAC-related and non-BRAC-related."
The change is already well underway, with the Route 715 entrance gate complete, $700 million in construction contracts awarded and construction sites dotting the installation. In addition, more than 450 new employees from the BRAC process have already moved in with 900 more expected this year.
As Nelson explained, "And, that's allowing them to establish mission capability at the proving ground that will be their forward platform working here so systems can be operating, mission can be occurring, products being developed, instead of waiting for that capability to be turned off at their losing installation.".
Pillsbury cited personnel issues at the leadership's number-one concern in the meeting, "We tackled several heavy issues today. Personnel, the hiring process, being one, IT (information technology) infrastructure being another, and the garrison staffing that has to now take over a 90% civilian population versus a 67% civilian population."
APG's inbound organizations will grow and enhance the installation's capabilities to directly support the warfighter through research, development and engineering as well as testing and evaluation by bringing in approximately 8,500 new jobs and swelling the installation's total workforce to about 20,000 in 2012. Overall, there will be a net gain of some 4,700 personnel.
The transformation is not just about shear numbers, however. As the Ordnance Center and Schools populated with young trainees departs, the post's transient Soldier population will decrease from a high of 3,000 in 2008 to a mere 17 in 2012, changing dramatically the complexion and needs of the post's population.
Therefore, establishing the resources and support for a changing mission and a new workforce will be priority, "The human capital resource that's required to support this high technology mission that APG will have in 2012 is our greatest challenge - to have the right people here to do the work that needs to be accomplished."
This BRAC recommendation is unique in that there's an emphasis on realigning rather than closing to create a more efficient approach to mission success. As Nelson explained, "Previous BRAC recommendations have centered around identifying redundant installation capability, but this BRAC recommendation is looking at consolidating mission sets and like-mission sets to allow the full cycle of research, development, engineering, test and evaluation to fielding, all to happen here at a single installation."
After helping tackle those issues Pillsbury said he's confident the Aberdeen Proving Ground workforce will create one of the nation's premier technology centers. "The brain trust that's coming to Aberdeen on top of the brain trust that's already here is going to be world class. I don't think there's anything that this workforce won't be able to accomplish in the future."
He added that the new life-cycle composition of the installation will yield positive outcomes for future. "I will be very surprised that if by 2014, 2015, certainly 2016 and on out, that this doesn't become the center of excellence for all things IT, cyber research."