REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Redstone Arsenal has definitely made its mark on high-level Army programs.

Across the portfolio of programs overseen by the Pentagon, about half are managed right here at the Arsenal. And it's the successful management of those programs that is making a tremendous difference for Soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The work that is done here in Huntsville is so important to the Army. I've recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and I know the programs and efforts at Redstone Arsenal are so important to providing our Soldiers with the capabilities they need to be successful on the battlefield," said the Army's principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

Lt. Gen. William Phillips' comments were made during a brief media session outside the Von Braun Center's North Hall on June 16 during Armed Forces Celebration Week. They mirrored the appreciation he expressed to nearly 1,000 military, business and community leaders just a short time later during the celebration's Salute Luncheon.

Phillips, whose previous assignment was as the commander of the Joint Contracting Command-Iraq/Afghanistan from February 2009 to January 2010 and who, prior to that, served at the Arsenal for three years as deputy program executive officer for aviation, told the media and his lunch audience that Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal "hold a special place in my heart because of the work being done here."

"In my 34 years in the Army, I've never seen a community that comes together like this. It is extraordinary the work you do here. I don't think there was a day that went by (while I was in Iraq and Afghanistan) that I didn't touch something that Redstone Arsenal or this community had done, that's in the hands of Soldiers or servicemembers that's helping them execute their mission so they can do it safely, securely and then come home safely to their family and their friends."

As the three-star general now overseeing the Army's acquisition programs, Phillips said improvements can be made in acquisition to make it more responsive, efficient and agile.

Redstone Arsenal will have an impact on those changes because of the significance of its Aviation and Missile Command's Contracting Center, the upcoming moves of the headquarters of the Army Materiel Command and the Army's Contracting Command and Expeditionary Contracting Command to the Arsenal, and the other acquisition professionals working for such Arsenal-based organizations as the program executive offices for Missiles and Space, and Aviation, and the Missile Defense Agency.

"The importance of contracting to our nation, not just to the Army, is incredible," he said. "Thirty-one point five percent of federal contracting dollars are executed through Army contracting. There are 41,000 acquisition professionals in the Army, and 274 contracting warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan ... It is important to continue to grow our contracting capabilities."

Last year, the Army's acquisition professionals executed $397 million daily in contracts. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, $360 billion in contracts have been executed by the Army's acquisition and contracting professionals.

"The impact you have is extraordinary for our nation," Phillips said.

The products and services supplied by contractors have been important to the nation since the American Revolution, when Betsy Ross was contracted to sew the American flag. Contractors have also been instrumental in supporting the war fight throughout the nation's history, with the contractor/Soldier ratio now at one-to-one in Iraq and one-to-two in Afghanistan, Phillips said.

The Army's acquisition work force and its contractors face many challenges, including the tremendous workload and tight budgets caused by fighting two wars simultaneously, the length of a war now reaching into its ninth year and the speed required in supplying Soldiers with tools to counteract an ever-changing enemy.

"What we do here is incredibly important to the Army and goes way beyond the Army," Phillips said. "We are gaining efficiencies across the Department of Defense ... We need to transform and look at all processes."

The general told his audience that he was honored to be the guest speaker at the Armed Forces Celebration Week's Salute Luncheon. He went on to say that the week's theme --
"United in Strength" -- is appropriate for a community where government-industry partnerships are "incredibly important."

"This community is second to none," Phillips said. "I am proud of what Team Redstone continues to do. I am proud of this community ... Thank you for what you do for Soldiers and war fighters, and thank you for giving me the most wonderful day of the first five months of my work in the Pentagon."