REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The employee team at the Aviation and Missile Command doesn't, for the most part, visit Soldiers in the field.

But their aviation and missile systems are there, making a difference in defending freedom and democracy throughout the world. In the most recent news, those systems helped Soldiers get the winning edge in the fight for an independent and democratic Iraq.

For that reason, 2012 should start on a joyous note. Yet, Maj. Gen. Jim Rogers, commander of the Aviation and Missile Command, said instead of a celebration, he thinks the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom is a time for reflection and resolve.

"We should honor those who have sacrificed their lives and the families of those who have made the sacrifice to make Iraq a free country," he said.

Success for this Southwest Asia country translates into democratic elections, a free marketplace, development of schools and other public buildings, a strong military and police presence, and the absence of a dictatorship and terrorism activities.

"We've done a pretty successful job for Iraq to be a country that can now stand on its own and govern on its own," Rogers said. "But they are going to need help from around the world, not just from us, to help ensure they stay free."

Rogers has commanded AMCOM for a little over a year, arriving just a few months ahead of its parent organization, the Army Materiel Command, joining the Redstone neighborhood. While AMCOM and Rogers remain the senior command on post in terms of leading the installation, working with Arsenal tenants and solidifying community relationships outside the gate, the installation's significance on a national level resides with AMC and Gen. Ann Dunwoody.

"The relationship is still being defined, but it is in all of our best interests," Rogers said. "When we have challenges or issues, we can walk down the street to get assistance. AMC has such a huge mission and we're just one small part of that command, although an integral part. We need to ensure we're vested with AMC on the mission."

Rogers has enjoyed his first year of command and has been impressed with the support the Aviation and Missile Command provides Soldiers around the world. He and his management team have visited Soldiers in Europe, Southwest Asia and the Pacific Rim to view how AMCOM is making a difference for Soldiers.

"AMCOM has a reputation of being at the forefront in everything in the realm of sustainment and integration," he said. "We have great people that work hard to support the war fighter. Those visits emphasized how important it is to have our logistics assistance representatives out there on point. We will continue to gauge ourselves on how well aviation and missile systems continue doing in the field."

The organization remains the provider of choice for aviation and missile systems as well as test measurement and diagnostic equipment. In addition, its Logistics Modernization Program continues to allow improved planning, forecasting and rapid order fulfillment that leads to better streamlined supply lines, improved distribution, a reduced theater footprint, and a war fighter that is better equipped for the threat.

"We've got to continue to refine our processes in supply chain and value chain management," Rogers said.

Unfortunately, budget challenges have come quicker within AMCOM than Rogers had expected. Having to reduce the AMCOM work force by 272 through retirements and reassignments to different organizations has been a tough task for a commander in his first year at the AMCOM helm.

"Anytime you throw in the aspect of working in a budget constraint environment, it's always harder, and it's been more so here because we have such good self-motivated people," Rogers said. "But the budget cuts are going to be unrelenting. It's not going to stop until we figure out ways to improve our processes and procedures."

The recent reduction could have been deeper if not for the "forward thinking people who were already working on initiatives to better understand capabilities," Rogers said. "We've got to be effective, but we've also got to become more efficient. There are places we can trim down that are not our core capabilities."

In all areas, AMCOM must define the requirements to execute the mission and be able to justify those requirements, he said.

"To be more efficient and effective, we have to know where we are at, where we are going, how we're going to get there and how much it's going to cost," Rogers said.

"We were able to lose 272 positions without affecting the great work force that we have. But everyone sees what's coming on the horizon. We need to hatchet down on trying to find non-labor costs that we can cut. We're trying to articulate how to go about solving the problem before it becomes a problem for the Army."

Rogers would like AMCOM to be a leader in non-labor cost reductions.

"We can be a role model on how the Army should go about cutting costs without cutting effectiveness. If we can do it at AMCOM, then others will follow us," he said.

The good news is that the AMCOM work force is willing and eager for changes that lead to better efficiencies and effectiveness.

"All of our employees have the ability to be forward thinkers," he said. "We asked our employees in a survey if they wanted to change and 92 percent said they did want to change.
That's pretty powerful and it's very telling that we are going in the right direction."

On the opposite spectrum, there is also a fear of the unknown related to change. That fear can be overcome through education, the major general said.

"With the Logistics Modernization Program, we really didn't know how it would affect our abilities, how it would affect the supply chain," Rogers said. "And we had to change to accommodate that effect. To overcome the fear of that change, we have to educate employees about what LMP is, how it operates and how it should be used. In the end, it changes the work force in a better way. … We really need to grab on to the idea that change is good and we need to embrace it."

No matter what budget constraints AMCOM must work under in the future, Rogers is confident the organization and its work force will be successful in the mission.

"Bottom line, we want to be the provider of choice. Ultimately, when a Soldier thinks support he should be thinking AMCOM," he said.