WASHINGTON -- As part of its ongoing modernization efforts, the Army is focusing on five areas that will help improve its ammunition manufacturing facilities, the head of Army Materiel Command said Tuesday.
The service recently unveiled an aggressive $16 billion, 15-year transformation strategy that aims to upgrade processes at those facilities.
Under that strategy, two of the five areas include the service to continue to have direct hiring authorities and to advocate for additional public, private or public-public partnerships, said Gen. Edward Daly during a panel at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.
For instance, Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, said the Army heavily relies on input from industry to develop the Optionally-Manned Fighting Vehicle, the eventual replacement of the M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Daly also mentioned that the Armament Retooling and Manufacturing Support program was necessary going forward. Created by Congress, the ARMS program encourages the commercial and government use of underutilized property at select installations.
Another area the general highlighted was to support natural gas extraction that could even increase revenue for the Defense Department.
Finally, Daly said, the service must continue to receive adequate and predictable funding from Congress without penalization for carryover, as it can impact workforce readiness and workforce levels.
“I think those are the five areas that we've appreciated the support of both Congress and [the Office of the Secretary of Defense],” Daly said.
The Army also looks to improve safety inside ammo manufacturing facilities after the deaths of three workers in the past decade, Jette said, despite properly following safety procedures.
The strategy plans to aggressively upgrade the government-owned, contractor-operated infrastructure, or GOCO, facilities, while also adhering to strict safety procedures, he said.
“All deaths are tragic and we must work to eliminate any possible cause of deaths,” Jette said.
To address this problem, facilities will be constructed with modular “evolvable” technology as part of the service’s modernization plans for GOCO facilities. Those upgrades will provide flexibility to protect both workers and facilities.
“Going forward, we have to design for flexible execution,” said Brig. Gen. Vincent Malone, Joint Program Executive Officer for Armaments & Ammunition and commander of Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey. “It’s that simple. And that's more feasible today than it was in the past because our machinery, by and large, is being designed for the flexible execution.
“If anything ever goes wrong with an energetic line, at least we'll get the people separated from the energetics,” Malone added. “But we also have to be thinking about the asset and making sure that we preserve as much of the facility as possible, even in a catastrophic event.”
The transformational plan includes upgrades to the ammunition organic industrial base, or OIB. The OIB consists of 26 depots, arsenals, ammunitions plants and medical repair facilities valued at more than $40 billion, including eight GOCOs and 18 government-owned, government-operated infrastructure, or GOGOs.
Daly said the facilities not only impact readiness for the Army, but also the joint force.
“Dr. Jette and I are committed to developing [a] comprehensive holistic strategy, more transformational than just focused on monetization across the entire OIB for the Army,” Daly said. “We're setting a new paradigm for driving revolutionary transformation.”
Jette said the Army will continue to utilize its approach toward acquisitions: experiment, prototype and then evaluate to deliver the needed equipment and capabilities to the warfighter faster, while laying the foundation for the Army’s transformational change.
Jette also credited Army acquisition’s quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic due to the infrastructure already set in place. He added that the Army has successfully adapted to minimize the exposure to the virus and potential effects on productivity.
“The industry has revised the way that it sets up its assembly lines, how it keeps it clean, the way they treat their people and the way they manage their people,” he said. “In doing so, it's drastically reduced our exposure to COVID impacts.”