ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – Modernizing the Organic Industrial Base and ensuring the welfare of its workforce dominated the discussion at Joint Munitions Command’s update to the Commanding General of U.S. Army Materiel Command, Gen. Ed Daly, on April 22nd.
JMC Commander, Col. Gavin Gardner, highlighted JMC’s focus on employee inclusion, the ammunition management strategy, and modernization initiatives to sustain a flexible OIB enterprise to better support the warfighter.
“Our people are JMC’s greatest asset,” Gardner said. “Taking care of them is the best way to continue providing superior munitions readiness to our men and women in uniform.”
JMC senior leaders prioritize listening to and assessing the well-being of their team members. The command operationalized Project Inclusion, an Army-wide effort to improve diversity, equity and inclusion across the force and build cohesive teams within organizations. Focus areas include embedding change into the JMC culture, building trust and transparency into the hiring processes, diversifying outreach efforts and monitoring progress with empirical data.
“Project Inclusion means ensuring that leaders at all levels remain dedicated to listening, learning, understanding and taking action, as well as changing how we recruit, retain and hire,” Gardner said.
Establishing an environment free of discrimination and harassment is key to creating and maintaining a resilient, diverse, inclusive, educated and professional workforce that can provide quality munitions needed for Soldiers to win on any battlefield.
“Employees need to know they are making a difference and they are appreciated,” Daly said. “This is an important piece of the overall people strategy.”
JMC provides conventional munitions to all U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Space Guardians, as well as international allies and partners. To maintain overmatch against near-peer adversaries like Russia and China, JMC constantly modernizes its ammunition management strategy, starting with transforming the WWII-era facilities common among the OIB.
Crane Army Ammunition Activity, a JMC subordinate command, is unveiling its state-of-the-art plating facility in June. Key to the new shop’s success is investing in the latest technology rather than maximizing outdated methods already in place to cut costs.
“Long-term, investing in our infrastructure, just like investing in our people, will enable the OIB to support a multi-domain operations-ready force,” said Gardner.
The OIB’s mass infrastructure transformation requires evolving transportation networks to support future operations, including adding and maintaining roads, rail and even bridges and culverts. It is also critical to establish multi-purpose/multi-use facilities for shipping and receiving munitions while assuring that the buildings are still properly configured for safely and effectively carrying out each operation.
OIB organizations must have modernization plans that account for optimal sizes and configurations needed to support new munitions and emerging requirements, while still maintaining readiness for today’s Army. This includes divesting of outdated structures in favor of updated, efficient, and standardized facilities, such as Iowa Army Ammunition Plant’s Fiscal Year 2024 plan to reduce the footprint of the melt-pour facility with new construction that meets the latest design criteria.
“The OIB modernization strategy is something that is very tough to work through,” Daly said. “I truly believe we are setting the resources to see a monumental improvement of the way we are doing business. We are now using analytical data directly to make decisions and spend more time critically thinking. That’s how we need to do business in the 21st century. With reduced resources, we need to use the technological edge to determine how to do things differently.”
In the short term, JMC is leveraging machine learning and robotic process automation.
Machine learning refers to systems that can be trained to learn from data to describe, diagnose, predict and remediate operational problems, while RPA refers to next-level systems that learn from users. These digital workers, or “bots,” automate highly repetitive processes such as vast amounts of data input, allowing their human counterparts to work on analysis and high-level decision making.
“There’s no doubt the Army priorities are in people, readiness and modernization, and I’m excited about all three,” Daly said. “We need to get to a level of modernization at exponential effect.”
Future materiel needs, new weapons platforms and evolving technology will significantly impact JMC’s production, distribution, storage, and demilitarization missions. As technology and capabilities evolve, proper planning will ensure that JMC has the facilities, systems and workforce capable of managing those items in service to the future force
“I want holistic change,” Daly said. “We are looking from 2035 back. We are investing every dollar into the right technology to set the conditions for the future. We need to get to a level of modernization at exponential effect.”