TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa.-Hundreds of depot employees watched as one of the service's most senior officers presented Tobyhanna with its first Army Superior Unit Award during a ceremony here Jan. 28.

Gen. Benjamin S. Griffin, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, presented the award and also honored the Tobyhanna team for earning the Shingo Gold Medallion for excellence in manufacturing. Tobyhanna received one of 12 Shingo prizes awarded throughout the command last year.

Depot leaders and distinguished guests joined the general in congratulating everyone from the shops, to the Field Repair Activities worldwide, to those serving side-by-side with military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Korea and wherever armed forces are assigned or deployed.

"The work done here is critical to protecting lives everyday," Griffin said. "You set the standard when it comes to providing outstanding support to the men and women serving at installations around the world."

The superior unit award recognizes outstanding meritorious performance of a unit in a difficult and challenging mission, under extraordinary circumstances.

"This significant military honor reflects organizational excellence and unrelenting mission focus and accomplishment," said Col. Ron Alberto, depot commander, explaining that it recognizes every member of the workforce-from apprentice to the most experienced technicians.

"Such recognition sharpens our focus to effectively meet our growing responsibilities to support our armed forces as they continue their vital missions to secure freedom and liberty, and to assist our friends and allies around the world," the colonel added.

Griffin said Tobyhanna is doing "very well" in the eyes of the customer.

"Customers in the field say one thing loud and clear- 'thanks for what AMC is doing to support us,'" the general said.

The superior unit award recognized work accomplished from October 2005 to September 2006 in support of programs such as Reset, Blue Force Tracking (BFT), Firefinder, Medical Communication for Combat Casualty Care (MC4), and the continued business transformation process through Lean Six Sigma (LSS) methodologies.

During that time the Reset effort supported hundreds of critical programs, including the Firefinder weapons-detecting radar, tactical satellite systems, aircraft survivability equipment, communications systems, communications security (COMSEC) equipment and electro-optic/night vision equipment.

In addition, the depot produced more than 13,000 BFT installation kits with a total production exceeding 29,000 kits and spare assemblies. Employees also completed 33 AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder Artillery Locating Radar System Antenna Transceiver Group Radars and nine AN/TPQ-37 Firefinders.

Depot personnel began work on the MC4 mission in 2006. Responsibilities included the repair, sustainment, and integration of the system to ensure every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine had a comprehensive medical record of illness and injury.

Furthermore, Tobyhanna provided on-site technical and logistical support in Southwest Asia to the Product Developer-Counter Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronics Warfare (PD-CREW) countermeasure systems. More than 30 field service representatives and installation personnel deployed to support the mission at installations in Southwest Asia.

The High Tech Regional Training Support/Maintenance Facility graduated 452 Soldiers. The site offers courses that support 23 Military Occupational Specialties by furnishing classroom and hands-on training.

And for the second time in two years, the depot was recognized for successfully applying Lean Six Sigma techniques to improve the quality and efficiency of their operations. The superior unit award nomination revealed the LSS savings and cost avoidance for during the judging period was $17 million.

Last year, the Tobyhanna team earned the Shingo Gold Medallion for the improvements made on the repair of the AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder.

The depot was recognized for achieving a 1,400 percent increase in production of ATGs (production increase from one to 15) between fiscal years 2004 and 2006 through the application of Lean manufacturing. Tobyhanna also met all fielding schedules throughout the period.

"The Shingo Gold Medallion is a well-deserved recognition of what you have accomplished," Frank Zardecki said to the members of the workforce assembled at the ceremony. "Combined with the Bronze Medallion earned for the AN/TPS-75 radar, it shows that we have the tools and the motivation to apply Lean Six Sigma across the depot," the Tobyhanna's deputy commander added.

The AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder System is comprised of the ATG trailer and Operations Control Group shelter. The AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder System is a highly mobile radar set designed for automatic first round location of weapons firing projectile-type rounds. In-flight track data is used to backtrack hostile projectile trajectories to the firing point. Friendly projectile trajectories can also be tracked for registration of friendly fire.

Alberto said "the Shingo examiners were clearly impressed with the depot's efforts to reduce costs and decrease repair cycle times.

"Although medallions, banners and ceremonies are great ways to honor our accomplishments, the most important honor is knowing that we continue to show improvements that benefit our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen serving and training around the globe," Alberto concluded.

During the ceremony, depot officials also announced the systems selected as candidates for the 2008 competition: AN/TRC-170 tropospheric scatter microwave radio; AN-189 electronics shops van program; AN/TYQ-23 weapons system, and the AN/TPS-75 radar.

"Each of these systems is important part of the joint warfighter's arsenal," said Brad Jones, director of Productivity, Innovation and Improvement. "Each team is working extremely hard in hopes of representing all of us at Tobyhanna in this competition."

Jones admits the recognition is great, but the emphasis needs to be on continuous process improvement. "We're getting better, faster, and more cost effective in providing warfighters with the best logistics support possible," he said.

Depot officials are confident the workforce is committed to making Tobyhanna more efficient and productive in service to the armed forces and the Nation.

"We have a great deal of work ahead of us, but we are confident in our processes and even more confident in you," Zardecki said. "I congratulate you on what you have achieved and look forward with anticipation to what we will accomplish in 2008."