The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command workforce continued to make great strides during another year wrought with ups and down surrounding COVID-19, maximum telework, mask mandates imposed, mask mandates removed, social distancing and more.
Since the start of the pandemic, vaccines have been developed, tested, approved and widely disseminated. Many are hoping it is the start of restoring a sense of normalcy.
As the command prepares for 2022, it reflects on significant changes and progress made in 2021.
Key personnel moves
In January, Larry Gunter was named as the new head of the AMCOM Security Assistance Management Directorate. Gunter previously served as the deputy at the U.S. Army Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment Activity.
Doug Miller was selected as AMCOM’s director of safety when Pat Vittitow retired with 41 years of federal service under her belt.
Karen Bandera retired from AMCOM G-1 in February with 44 years of civilian service; Sonny Chestang was welcomed as the new G-1 director in March.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Patrick O’Neill was welcomed as the new aviation branch maintenance officer in July, replacing Chief Warrant Office 5 Mike Cavaco.
Command Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Beavers also came aboard in July, replacing Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Charles Lahmon.
Col. Rick Allbritton took the reins of Letterkenny Army Depot, Pennsylvania, from Col. Gregory Gibbons July 29.
Lt. Col. Charles Halverson assumed duties as the head of the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate over the summer. In his new position as SJA, he also serves as a legal advisor to the AMCOM commander.
Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Dove relinquished responsibility as AMCOM’s command sergeant major to Command Sgt. Maj. Bradford Smith during an Aug. 13 ceremony. Dove retired after 27 years of active-duty service.
Col. David Almquist stepped into the AMCOM chief of staff position in September after Col. Richard Martin moved to a position at U.S. Army Materiel Command.
Four employees from Corpus Christi Army Depot in Texas received personal thank-you letters from the AMCOM and CCAD commanders for taking actions to save a coworker’s life. Jose Guillen, Cindy M. Cantu, Eunice V. Garza, Grace Trevino and Richard A. Eaton, Hangar 45’s second shift aviation intermediate maintenance aircraft mechanic crew, stepped in to clear the obstructed airway of a coworker who had turned blue while choking.
AMCOM’s missile maintenance officer was promoted to the highest rank in the warrant officer structure in February. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Araceli Rial is the second female to earn this rank in the Air Defense Artillery Branch, but the first in her military occupational specialty to do so.
AMCOM Commander Maj. Gen. Todd Royar hosted a ceremony where efforts in value engineering were highlighted.
“This marks the 23rd year that, as an enterprise, we've been able to exceed the value that was initially set for value engineering projects and be able to recoup some of that … back to the to the Army – truly remarkable,” Royar said.
Two Letterkenny Army Depot employees were lauded for their outstanding work in supporting the depot’s mission. Ricky Danzberger, a hazmat specialist, and Terri Doom, a Lean Six Sigma specialist, were selected as the employees of the quarter for the first quarter in fiscal year 2021. Both were awarded the Department of the Army Civilian Service Achievement medal in February in recognition of their commitment to Army values, dedication to increasing the quality of life at LEAD, problem-solving skills and efficiency.
Josette Paschal, AMCOM antiterrorism program manager for 17 years, was inducted into the U.S. Army AT Honor Roll.
“It’s an honor and humbling,” said Paschal. “I am very grateful of the recognition. However, I know that I didn’t get that recognition alone. I have a great team and they are part of me being efficient and effective in my role as the command’s AT program manager.”
For the second time in six years, AMCOM Operations Security Program Manager Paul Quintel received the first place Army-wide OPSEC individual award.
Quintel teaches approximately five to six OPSEC classes each year. COVID-19 slowed that down a bit, but he resumed face-to-face training in April with class enrollment sizes reduced by 50%, to ensure social distancing between students. He is also requested by local defense contractors to provide OPSEC training at their facilities and also conducts physical security inspections of all of AMCOM’s Redstone Arsenal facilities, along with OPSEC briefings for AMCOM employees.
CCAD’s Spc. Christian Kerkado-Colon was selected as the AMC Soldier of the Year July 30 after earning the AMCOM Soldier of the Year title at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Best Warrior Competition at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in May.
Kerkado is a military policeman from Puerto Rico who’s been in the Army for more than four years. He joined the Army for “a greater calling” and to follow in his father’s footsteps.
AMCOM G-8 Command Accountability and Execution Review team was selected as recipients of the Army Excellence in Financial Stewardship Award. AMCOM’s CAER team is led by Brian Dempsey and includes Monica Childers, Marsha Cuffee and Daniel Nguyen.
The award is given annually for those who provide leadership, mentorship and guidance to financial personnel in an organization.
AMCOM G-8 Deputy Chief of Staff Dale Smith said he couldn’t be prouder of what his team accomplished. “They have proved to the Army the value of leveraging advanced business analytics at the unit level to improve financial management and decision making. I can confidently say that this team, along with resource managers across AMCOM, [is] leading the entire Army when it comes to employing analytics in the business domain.”
An AMCOM G-8 conference room was renamed in honor of a former employee who died in 2020. The Becton Room was officially dedicated Oct. 29 in honor of Don Edward Becton Sr., who was the AMCOM Command Audit Readiness Office chief at the time of his death.
“Don joined the predecessor to AMCOM [U.S. Army Missile Command] in 1989 as an accounting intern and dedicated his entire 32-year career to AMCOM, culminating as the command audit readiness chief,” said AMCOM G-8 Director Dale Smith. “In other words, Don rose from an intern to a GS-15, all in the same organization.”
Tod Glidewell, future aviation sustainment and modernization lead for AMCOM’s G-3/-5S Strategy, Concepts and Plans Directorate, was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame Nov. 16.
The Army Aviation Hall of Fame honors commissioned, warrant and non-commissioned officers, Soldiers and civilians from government and industry who have contributed to Army aviation. The Hall of Fame is located within the Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
“The Army and aviation readiness are a team sport,” said Glidewell. “This selection was truly a team effort and the Soldiers, civilians and families I collectively served with over the last 40 years also earned and deserve this recognition.”
For the second consecutive year, AMCOM’s conferences were mostly virtual.
Two iterations of AMCOM 101 for Aviation – one in fiscal year 2021 and one in FY 2022 – during the past calendar year. Nearly 400 military and civilian attendees registered for the March session and about 200 attended the October gathering, both of which focused on readiness and sustainment across the aviation enterprise and new aviation technology and its integration into their field.
“As both a squadron and brigade commander, I thought I knew how to leverage the enterprise to enable readiness,” said Royar. “AMCOM 101 is designed to provide units what I should have known but did not – the education and information needed to maximize their readiness.”
AMCOM hosted Team Redstone’s 2021 Center of Excellence - Advance Planning Briefings to Industry with record enrollment March 9-11. The annual event provides a platform for dialogue between Team Redstone and its industry partners.
“With APBI, I get a chance to see what some of the future spending and contracts are due to come out with AMCOM over the next few years,” said Rodney Pennywell, chief strategist for Pennywell Development Company. “As a business strategist, I consult to companies that are in this area. I am able to work with companies putting teams and partners together to make proposals that are responsive to AMCOM’s needs.”
AMCOM 101 for Missiles took center stage in late March to increase Army leaders’ awareness of the tools and resources available to improve readiness in Army missile units.
“Given the high [operational tempo] of the missile community, it is imperative that we, as an enterprise, do everything we can to enable their readiness,” Royar said. “AMCOM 101 is one way to inform Soldiers and commanders in the field how they can better leverage support available to them.”
Industry Days came to AMCOM in August, when representatives for 17 original equipment manufacturers were able to sit down with the AMCOM commanding general for one-on-one discussions on how they can partner together to increase supply availability and improve Army readiness.
“Our ability to effectively support the warfighter is dependent upon our ability to effectively work with our industry partners,” the AMCOM CG said. “Industry Days provides an opportunity to not only discuss and resolve current issues, but also to initiate work on new opportunities. It truly is a team effort.”
Representatives from across the Army’s Organic Industrial Base gathered at LEAD for the OIB Shop Floor Modernization Symposium Oct. 19-21, facilitated by LEAD’s Directorate of Information Management. The purpose of the symposium was to create an avenue for collaboration amongst members of the OIB concerning modernization efforts.
AMCOM continues the 30-month UH-60L digital twin effort in partnership with Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Command Aviation and Missile Center. The partners are working to create a collaborative environment through which 3D modeling and simulation enables functional subject matter experts to evaluate/validate systems and integrity of repairs, develop criteria for design and analysis needed to identify a list of parts that can be manufactured through advanced/additive manufacturing, and serve as a pathfinder for future advanced manufacturing efforts in the Army aviation enterprise.
AMCOM celebrated the renovation of the USATA headquarters building June 29 at Redstone Arsenal.
The celebration marked the completion of the first major renovation to the Maj. Gen. John M. Cone Metrology Laboratory in USATA’s more than 50-year history on the installation. Cone served as the director of quality assurance at the U.S. Army Materiel Command in the mid-1960s.
In August, AMCOM Commander Maj. Gen. Todd Royar signed the AMCOM Data and Analytics Strategy that builds on the framework of the Department of Defense and Army’s data strategies. The ADAS is the starting point as the command embarks on laying the foundation and creating an enduring an outcome-driven plan.
“Quality data will drive virtually all future decisions,” Royar said. “Our data strategy will guide us to collect what we need in order to inform those decisions.”
AMCOM’s Executive Steering Committee, championed and chaired by the deputy to the commanding general, will provide oversite of the data and analytics governance program.
In September, the AMCOM commander joined U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Commander Maj. Gen. David Francis on a visit to General Electric Aviation’s plant in Lynn, Massachusetts.
The leaders toured T700, T408 and T901 engine lines, operational progress and discussed opportunities for improvement in quality and delivery.
The first UH-60V helicopters were delivered to the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site Oct. 6 in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Royar said it was exciting to see the work being done by CCAD Commander Col. Joseph Parker and his team in Texas.
The helicopters are upgraded versions of the UH-60L that include a glass digital suite that includes enhanced messaging between pilots, a moving map and a state-of-the-art navigation system that provides increased situational awareness.
A new dynamic component repair facility is underway at CCAD. The last beam for phase 3 of 8 was put in place – ahead of schedule – during a topping ceremony Nov. 18.
The milestone was reached ahead of schedule despite weather delays, COVID-19 pandemic and global supply chain issues.
"I love watching construction – especially a building that we can place our artisans and people in, a state-of-the-art building with the most modern equipment and techniques and the best-trained workforce,” Parker said.
During a former leader forum in October, Royar spoke to former AMCOM leaders about progress and the way ahead.
“We had the highest [fully mission capable] rates that we have ever seen across the Army, and really low [not mission capable supply] rates,” Royar said. “What’s really impressive is down at Fort Rucker [Alabama], they met [Department of the Army] standards on Apache maintenance – 75% – for the first time in a while.”
Despite all its challenges, 2021 was a great success. If nothing else, operating throughout these trying times has proven that AMCOM is up for anything.
Bring it on 2022.