By Ed MickleyFebruary 8, 2010
Corpus Christi, Texas -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph Westphal learned first-hand about Army depot helicopter repair and recapitalization during his brief, but substantial tour of CCAD's facilities aboard Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Feb. 3.
Arriving from Washington, D.C., the Under Secretary made his initial depot tour the first part of a two-day visit to south Texas Army facilities which include Fort Sam Houston, Brooke Army Medical Center, Center for the Intrepid and other facilities in San Antonio.
The Under Secretary's depot visit started with a presentation and overview by Col. Joe Dunaway, CCAD cmmander, and Dennis Williamson, deputy to the commander for Maintenance Operations, then took part in a roundtable discussion with depot leadership including directors and union leaders.
Questions about capacity, employees, industry standards, safety and funding from Westphal were addressed by different CCAD directors.
"These are questions I was asked during my confirmation," said the Under Secretary.
An important issue, capacity was addressed by Dunaway. "It's a challenge to properly measure capacity," he said. "It includes people, tools, materials and the space available, but tools are being developed to better help us quantify capacity."
"A driving factor of determining capacity is the warfighter requirement," Dunaway added.
Workload, for the present and forecast, was another area highlighted by Col. Dunaway illustrating the depot's capabilities.
"Though there's pressure to send more work to private industry," Dr. Westphal commented. "The aviation piece will always be big. There will always be a mission for these aircraft."
Addressing safety, Dr. Westphal expressed more than casual interest about how the depot achieved the significant reduction in lost time and injuries. Responses included a strong leadership focus, exercise programs and awareness campaigns were essential to the success of the program.
The entourage began a walking tour through the 2-million-square-foot facility visiting logistics, component, power train, and other production areas. The Under Secretary stopped often to visit with employees about their work.
Taking in a quick stop for lunch, the group met with several employees who deployed sometime during their career. In a candid discussion of their past service, Westphal discussed issues concerning our warfighters, and how the Army could do better.
Each veteran shared their experience while Dr. Westphal listened intently, engaging each about their duties, units and location.
"The time you spent is very important, thank you for what you did," said Westphal. "I really appreciate your service and if there's anything we can help you with, please let us know."
After the lunch, Westphal presented a commemorative coin to each veteran, thanking them again for what they did for their country.
Continuing on to aircraft production, the group went through several hangars listening to supervisors describe what artisans were doing as they completed various phases of work on UH-60 Black Hawks, CH-47 Chinooks, AH-64 Apaches, and OH-58 Kiowa Warriors.
A drive by the flight test hangar returning to the air field revealed a variety of helicopters ready to fly in harm's way again.
As he boarded his flight to San Antonio, the Under Secretary affirmed that there is no doubt this depot is important to the warfighter, "it's been a great opportunity to visit and see the commitment of these employees."