A group of leaders from throughout Macomb County were introduced to the county’s defense industry Feb. 15 with visits to the U.S. Army’s Detroit Arsenal and BAE Systems as part of the Leadership Macomb XXV program.
The Detroit Arsenal hosted the group in the morning with an overview of the arsenal’s
role in Macomb County as well as a tour of the several of the arsenal’s research and development labs.
Carrie Mead, U.S. Army Garrison – Detroit Arsenal’s garrison manager, began the day with an overview of the garrison organization’s role in managing the installation and how the garrison is comparable to the structure of a small city. “The Detroit Arsenal has its own department of public works, fire station, security force, and childcare facility,” said Mead. “You will find that we have most of the same services as a small city might. Especially those services that focus on taking care of the people,” sha added.
Mead also explained how the garrison manages the golf course, childcare, recreational vehicle storage and the marina at Selfridge Air National Guard base. “We know there is a need for these services at Selfridge and since our organizations is structured to manage those type of facilities, we partner with them to meet those needs,” said Mead. “We do our best to take care of all military members, retirees and their family members throughout Southeast Michigan.”
She also explained how, like a city’s management team, the garrison maintains the infrastructure and manages plans for what the installation will need five, 10 or 20 years ahead in regard to buildings and utilities.
“Planning for our future requires a lot of partnering with our local community,” said Mead. “We do that at the organization level through programs like this (Leadership Macomb), through partnerships with the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce and the Aerospace and Defense Committee and through relationships built at the staff office level with their counterparts in the community. These relationships are often mutually beneficial and help us all grow together.”
Keith Nelson, General Dynamics Land Systems government relations manager, then talked to the group about how contractors fit into the military’s procurement system. He touched on budgeting cycles, government relationships and the importance of partnerships with the military to make sure they can meet the military’s ever-changing needs. He also talked about the importance of being in Macomb County where there are so many automotive subcontractors that help them meet the military’s requirements.
Col. Steven Carozza, Tank-automotive and Armaments Command chief of staff, was next to talk to the group and he presented an overview of what TACOMs does. TACOM manages the Army's ground equipment supply chain, which constitutes about 60 percent of the Army's total equipment. As new systems are developed, TACOM develops a supply chain and manages it.
“Our mission is developing and delivering readiness to U.S. Army forces worldwide,” said Carozza. “Figuring out what the army needs and getting it to them wherever they are. It’s a team of teams that makes up that capability to provide readiness to U.S. Army forces stationed worldwide. If a soldier drives it, shoots it, wears it or eats it, TACOM sustains it.”
Next, Col. Ryan Holloway, Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team chief of staff, gave an overview of his organization. “The NGCV is a program that is working to provide capable replacements for old combat platforms that are nearing the end of their service life,” said Holloway. “We (NGVC) also introduce new warfighting capabilities to Army.”
The colonel also talked about the importance of his team being in Macomb County near the developmental teams from the big three automakers. “We draw from the expertise and talent in the auto industry as we look to develop and improve new vehicles for the Army,” said Holloway. “We want to provide the safest, most effective vehicles for our soldiers and give them every possible advantage on the battlefield.”
Following the briefings, the Leadership Macomb group was able to tour several of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center research and development labs. Frank Devuono, former GVSC chief of staff, provided a history of the organization formally known as TARDEC and how it developed into the U.S. Armed Forces’ research and development facility for advanced technology in ground systems. The organization’s current technology focus areas include power and mobility, autonomous systems, force projection, survivability, electronics and architecture, cyber engineering, and software integration.
Before heading to BAE Systems for their afternoon session, the group had the opportunity to sit down for lunch with several senior enlisted soldiers stationed at the Detroit Arsenal. For many, this was their first opportunity to talk one on one with a member of the military and ask questions about their service. Most of the conversations revolved around why they joined the service, what their experiences were and how they managed their family life.
At BAE Systems, the group received a company overview from Angie Lommen, Program Director, Bradley Family of Vehicles, highlighting the how BAE Systems, Inc. is an international defense, aerospace and security company which delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. The Sterling Heights, Michigan, facility is home to approximately 530 employees made up of engineers, manufacturing, program and other team members. This specific site supports the Combat Mission Systems business, which designs, manufactures and delivers Amphibious and Ground Vehicles and Weapon Systems to the U.S. Government.
Vicky Rowinski, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Director, shared information on the extensive impact of aerospace and defense in the county. The information covered the skill sets employed in our county, detailed a decade review of incoming contracts, and highlighted the comprehensive dashboard showing the striking defense corridor that lies within the county.
Sharing a small business perspective, Patty Lopez, CEO of Rose-a Lee Technologies, provided a business overview, showing the complexity of a portfolio of that delivers both commercial and defense products. The requirements inherent in the defense industry are challenging for a small business. Patty wrapped up her comments with exceptional leadership advice, all clearly centered on people – both on yourself and those around you.
The afternoon session wrapped with a discussion panel where Dr. Valerie Devries, TACOM Human Resources, led a discussion regarding the “Diversity of Jobs in Defense Community.” The panelists included Ashley Baginski, BAE Systems Senior Human Resources Business Partner; Matthew Foote, Detroit Arsenal Chief – Non-Appropriated Fund Support Services Division; Dr. Rachel Johnstone, TACOM Command Historian; Shruti Jha, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Ground Vehicle Systems Center Congressional Liaison; and Jeremy Pohlman, BAE Systems Director of International Contracts. The opportunities in the defense community are as broad and diverse as all other industries combined! The mission to support our warfighters was clear for all the participants.
Rounding out the industry visit, the cohort gathered for a photo with an Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the newest tracked combat vehicle being fielded to the US Army. The AMPV is the replacement for the Vietnam War-era M113 currently in use. The multi-mission family of vehicles includes five variants and has room for growth beyond the current configurations: General Purpose, Mission Command, Mortar Carrier, Medical Evacuation, and Medical Treatment. The AMPV is one of the U.S. Army’s top modernization programs.
Leadership Macomb is a non-profit organization that offers a 10-month program to leaders from numerous institutions and disciplines throughout Macomb County. During the program, they obtain in-depth information about issue driven, relevant topics in Macomb County and develop long-term business relationships. Since 1996, more than 1,400 individuals representing more than 140 organizations have participated in the Leadership Macomb Program.
To learn more about Leadership Macomb, visit their website: https://leadershipmacomb.org