Sustainment vital to missile defense operations

By Stefan AlfordAugust 11, 2023

A welder at Letterkenny Army Depot, welds key areas of the aluminum cabin of an Extended Range Canon Artillery turret.
A welder at Letterkenny Army Depot, welds key areas of the aluminum cabin of an Extended Range Canon Artillery turret. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Dorie Heyer) VIEW ORIGINAL

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Army Sustainment Enterprise “is about warfighting … period.”

That was the opening message from Army Materiel Command Commanding General Gen. Charles Hamilton during remarks at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium here Aug. 10.

The Army’s senior sustainer then expounded on that declaration with examples of AMC’s response to the current situation in Ukraine with rapid delivery of missiles and missile defense equipment to that nation.

“When the call came, the sustainment enterprise answered,” he said. “From the organic industrial base to munitions, contracting, power projection and security assistance … our response was immense and immediate.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, AMC has employed the fort-to-port-to-foxhole concept to identify needed equipment and establish a steady logistics flow to deliver precision sustainment and materiel readiness from the strategic support area to the tactical point of contact.

Much of that commitment to Ukraine has been in the form of missiles and missile defense systems, Hamilton noted with a laundry list of materiel to include more than: 10,000 Javelin anti-armor systems; 6,000 Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missiles; 2,000 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; 38 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition; 20 Avenger air defense systems; one Patriot air defense battery and munitions; and unmanned aerial systems.

“The speed at which some of these systems arrived in Ukraine — how quickly they were able to make the difference on the battlefield, and the volume of those systems still arriving — has been incredible,” Hamilton said.

Space and missile defense has never been more relevant than now, Hamilton said, in the age of large-scale combat operations and multi-domain environments and it all starts with the core of the Joint Strategic Support Area — the Army’s 23 depots, arsenals and ammunition plants that comprise the OIB. He specifically highlighted Letterkenny Army Depot, Pennsylvania, in providing ongoing air defense, tactical missiles and long-range precision fires support to the Ukraine effort.

“The OIB is our national insurance policy,” said Hamilton. “It’s more than $300 billion in facilities and infrastructure located across the country, and as the Army is modernizing its weapons systems, we are also modernizing the OIB to support them.”

To that end, AMC has launched a 15-year, $18 billion effort to update and upgrade those facilities. In addition to new tooling and machinery and improving methods of production and manufacturing with 3D printing, AI and robotics, another focus is on defense of that capability by hardening the OIB against cyber-attacks, making it energy resilient, and optimizing and securing the supply chain.

“It’s one of the most important things we will do over the next 15 years to deliver long-term strategic readiness to our Army,” Hamilton said. “My mantra is that this is an evolutionary process. This is not a revolutionary change — we are in an evolutionary stage to build capacity and capability. We’ve got to have the capacity to go into the next fight, which serves as a deterrence as well. Right now, we’re replenishing our stocks of what we sent to Ukraine, adding even more demand to our production lines and supply chains for years to come.”

AMC’s commanding general concluded his remarks with a nod to those who underwrite that national insurance policy: “Our civilian workforce has really risen to the occasion. They put in the hours and expertise and make a huge difference.”