FORT SILL, Okla., July 9, 2020 -- Friends and family assembled for a July 2 change of charter ceremony to install Col. Carl Poppe (pronounced “pope”) as the new Army Capabilities Manager for Field Artillery Cannon Battalions.
His predecessor, Col. Cobb Laslie, will go only a short ways across post to become chief of staff for the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team, which is in charge of realizing the Army’s No. 1 modernization priority.
Laslie received the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious service during his two years as ACM for Team Fires and the Fires Center of Excellence.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth Kamper, commanding general of the FCoE and Fort Sill, said the role of the ACM -- formerly called the Training and Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager -- has evolved much during Laslie’s tenure.
Kamper said that when the Army Futures Command with its eight cross functional teams stood up, “that was a distinct recognition that we have some gaps in our formations, for equipment, personnel, organizations. If we’ve got to go fight large-scale ground combat ops against a near-peer adversary, we’ve got some gaps.”
Fort Sill is home to two of the CFTs, Long-Range Precision Fires and Integrated Air and Missile Defense. The Extended Range Cannon Artillery system, or ERCA, while clearly a signature Long-Range Precision Fires CFT program, is something that Laslie and his team have been very much a part of, Kamper noted.
The CFT is focused on materiel, science, testing of new systems, and acquisition. Kamper said Laslie’s job was everything else – the people, the organizations, where to put the new systems, and the doctrine.
“I think Cobb’s probably had the most turbulence and transition and acceleration of programs” of anyone in this position since the early 1970s, “and he’s done it in a phenomenal way,” the CG said.
Kamper said that having Laslie as chief of staff for the CFT, with his experience of Army capabilities management, “is just going to strengthen the bonds between all those enterprises.”
The charter is the ACM’s symbol of authority representing his responsibilities to the organization, according to Fort Sill narrator Ken Emerson. The passing of the charter represents the transfer of authority from one colonel to another.
The ACM acts as the Army’s centralized manager for all user activities associated with field artillery cannon battalions. The ACM is responsible for the integrating framework of the Army warfighting challenges to integrate, synchronize, and coordinate efforts across doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy areas in support of the field artillery cannon battalions.
Like other recent ceremonies, Kamper dipped into the “Fires 50” Army axioms to explain what the ACM for field artillery does: “No. 7 tells us to never fight a fair fight, and No. 36, to not let analysis cause paralysis.”
Kamper said the ACM for cannons is at the forefront of Army modernization efforts with a bunch of other partners, to not only manage current capabilities in the force but also to identify future requirements and solutions so that the U.S. may never fight a fair fight.
“We want to go in with overmatch. That’s how we achieve deterrence and increase the probability that we actually don’t have to fight, because somebody will see that we’re ready and we’ve got the capability to win,” he said.
The Cannon ACM portfolio is one of the largest in the Army, with more than 30 programs, to include all current and emerging cannon artillery systems, Kamper pointed out. He praised Laslie for the strides made on his watch with ERCA and Paladin, and he expressed his faith and confidence in Poppe, who has spent the past year on the FCoE team as director of the Directorate of Training Development and Doctrine.
“It’s pretty humbling standing here this morning, concluding two great years as the director for the FACB team, and many of them are standing back here. Teammates, thanks for coming out today. These past two years have really flown by,” Laslie said.
He went on to thank his family for their love and support, and the Department of Army civilians, Soldiers, and contractors working to ensure Army greatness.
“I did a little counting last night, and there are about 75 battalions that we represent,” Laslie said.
He thanked industry partner Anthony Williams for fielding the M109A7 Paladin howitzer to four battalions so far, and he called it “the mainstay of our self-propelled artillery fleet.” It moved from low-rate to full-rate production several months ago.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Morales, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Artillery Half Section, presented Laslie’s wife, Ainslie, with a bouquet of red roses and single red roses to each of their daughters, Katherine and Rebecca. To Sarah, wife of the incoming ACM, Morales presented a bouquet of budding yellow roses as a symbol of welcome and anticipation of things to come. The Poppes have three children, Keaton, Grant, and Vaughn.
Poppe offered his thanks to everyone who made the transition possible. He recalled that 24 years ago this summer he showed up at Fort Sill for FA Officer Basic Course and came back in 2000 for the Captains Career Course, and after a 20-year break in service here, he was assigned here for the DOTD and ACM jobs.