The Joint Munitions Command hosted the Warm Base Conference, March 31 and Apr. 1 in Bettendorf, Iowa.
The purpose of the conference was to discuss in an open forum the next two fiscal years' workload forecast for JMC installations. It is held twice a year and affords the opportunity to hear updates on some of the JMC's initiatives, according to Kristine Preston, chief, Installation Advocacy and Workload Integration Office, Munitions and Logistics Readiness Center.
JMC, headquartered in Rock Island, Ill., manufactures, procures, stores, issues and demilitarizes conventional ammunition for all U.S. military services and selected non-Department of Defense customers. JMC serves as DOD's field operating agency for the Single Manager for Conventional Ammunition mission.
Some of these initiatives are the Integrated Logistics Strategy, Integrated Logistics Economic Strategy, Industrial Base Master Plan, First-In,/First-Out, and the Logistics Modernization Plan.
Conference attendees included representatives from the headquarters, Joint Munitions & Life Cycle Management Command, headquarters, JMC, and the JMC Army Working Capital Fund installations. Additionally, represesentatives from the Department of the Army (Logistics), U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy were present.
"Warm base is the term used to describe 'survival workload' for each of the JMC distribution depots," said Preston. The distribution depots are Blue Grass Army Depot, Tooele Army Depot, Crane Army Ammunition Activity, Letterkenny Munitions Center and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.
Warm base, or to use its more familiar name, workloading, is the minimum number of personnel needed to accomplish a depot's outload requirement.
"The conference provided an opportunity for installations to ask questions and share their concerns with the (JMC) headquarters, JMC staff and with each other," said Preston. "This conference is the first step in the budget process and the JMC will refine the planned installation workload during the next few weeks as we work through an accelerated budget cycle."
"The conference is the culmination or briefback on a host of issues and potential/projected workload projects. It is a valuable effort that allows the depots to plan resources to ensure mission execution and accurate budget development," said Col. Richard Mason, commander, Blue Grass. "It also allows the headquarters to get a better understanding of workload gaps/shortfalls and challenges to ensure the ammunition enterprise overall health and readiness."
Mason appreciates the fact that the ammunition community, gathered together, gives depth to the discussions of great importance to all of them.
The conference gave "face to face interaction with the ammunition community as a whole to discuss issues, challenges and successes," according to Mason. "The discussions and camaraderie developed in sidebars and during briefings are just as important to developing momentum for specific programs, understanding issues and generating potential improvements," he said. "These 'dialogues' are just not developed to as a great an extent within an e-mail or teleconference environment."
Others appreciated the chance to discover that all were in one accord.
"This conference afforded many opportunities for interaction and through that we discovered we are all playing from the same sheet of music," said Harrell Hignight, director, Red River Munitions Center.
Col. Anne Davis, commander, Tooele, thought the openness and the sharing of information was a great feature of the conference. "One of the biggest things we have gained from the warm base/workloading conference is the sharing of information. Previously, workloading was done in functional stovepipes and behind closed doors. Rationale for why decisions were being made were not shared throughout the ammunition enterprise. We have improved tremendously in this area," she said.
This sentiment was echoed by Edward Averill, civilian executive assistant, Letterkenny. "There was a lot of information sharing at this conference, even better than what we have had," he said. "This serves to pull us toward the 'corporate view'."
Mason feels that this conference provides the impetus for planning. "This conference is a major component in how the depot will organize itself with regard to workforce, budget, and investment in the near and long term for success," he said. It serves as a quality check against the often "disparate planning and execution efforts that constantly occur at the tactical, operational and strategic levels."
"The briefings by the headquarters on their strategic direction are invaluable. It allows the depots to perhaps better understand impacts and direction," said Davis. "The open forum discussions, and comments not only by leadership but action officers, can offer valuable insights and potential improvements if accepted by the headquarters."
Davis offers a caveat, however: "We are moving in the right direction regarding ILS and ILES but we are not there yet," she said. "Workloading and the budget cycle are still not in sync because the installations are being asked to develop a budget for fiscal year 2010 with a very fuzzy picture of what the workload will be."
Davis believes there is too much emphasis on the workload forecast and not enough on the larger picture. "Unfortunately, there is almost no focus on how to grow the workload pie as a whole so that there is more work for the enterprise as a whole. I believe this is a strategic issue that needs attention," she said.
ILS is an ammunition logistics strategy that looks to achieve an operating optimum balance among inventory, warm-base and outload. ILES ensures appropriate measures, means, and incentives are established to drive enterprise level efficiencies and improve economic performance across the base.