INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The second most senior man in the U.S. Army saw both the dedication and the challenges facing ammunition plant employees and the mission in general.
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli visited the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant on July 14.
"This is the first ammunition plant I've ever been to in 38 years (in the Army)," he said.
Personnel from the Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command, Joint Munitions Command and the Program Executive Office-Ammunition, accompanied Chiarelli doing the almost three-hour tour.
Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command Commander Brig. Gen. Larry Wyche set the tone for the visit during a 20-minute pre-brief, while applauding the LCMC unity and the plant's workforce dedication.
"Sir, I want you to take away from this briefing, we are truly a team. Small caliber ammunition is big business. Modernization funding has allowed us to meet significant demands. Our industrial base is a national asset, and thanks to you and your (Department of the Army) staff for your help."
And with that, the tour started first with the production lines of 7.62 mm and .50 caliber ammunition including its primer production.
"I'm kind of shock we have equipment from 1942," Chiarelli said when shown an equipment faceplate from that year. "When do you get to a point where you need to replace that equipment'"
Chiarelli stood in shock that on a hot, humid day in mid-July plant employees did not work in air-conditioned spaces out on the production lines.
As the plant employees interacted with the machines in a beehive-like activity, Chiarelli said he understood the need for more modernization.
"What should my priorities be'" he asked while looking at Wyche. "When I look around I see a priority here. In 38 years of experience we have a problem (with outdated equipment and facility). This (mission) is absolutely critical for us."
Chiarelli also viewed the production lines of the new M855A1 5.56 mm Enhanced Performance Round bullet.
JMC Command Sgt. Maj. David Puig informed Chiarelli the bullet provides warfighters improved hard-target capability, more dependable, consistent performance at all distances, improved accuracy and reduced muzzle flash and a higher velocity. The staff also stated the round will eliminate up to 2,000 tons of lead from the manufacturing process annually.
Other questions addressed and answered during the visit included Base Realignment and Closure issues affecting employees, demil of ammunition, and the importance of the vast array of partnerships with other contractors to produce a single bullet.
Or as Chiarelli said, "this is a million dollar slide," when shown the electronic slide showing the different companies it takes to make a bullet.
Also attending the tour included Brig. Gen. Jonathan A. Maddux, Program Executive Officer-Ammunition; Chris Grassano and William Sanville, Program Managers-Maneuver Ammunition Systems; Trish Huber, JMC Munitions Logistics Readiness Center director; and Lake City AAP Commander Lt. Col. Christopher Day.
Following the tour, Wyche addressed the attendees.
"He's seen some of the challenges and he's seen the hard work our employees our doing," he said.
Chiarelli said he was armed with new information on the value of not only Lake City but the other ammunition plants as well.
"I will take what I've seen today and take this back to the (Army) programmers," he said.