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Key leaders discuss preserving the Industrial Base

Workers are on the line at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant -- part of the Army's Organic Industrial Base.

Army Materiel Command’s top leader engaged congressional representatives and staff members May 14 for a candid discussion focused on preserving the country’s national security insurance policy.

Gen. Dennis L. Via told members of the House Military Depot, Arsenal, Ammunition Plant and Industrial Facilities Caucus, that the Army’s Organic Industrial Base must be preserved to enable joint force readiness and meet future surge requirements.

AMC oversees 23 facilities throughout the country that manufacture, repair and reset military equipment.  

“The Organic Industrial Base provides our Army and the Joint Force a unique capability to surge in support of global contingencies and conflicts in a timely and effective manner,” Via said. “Just like a homeowner or automobile insurance policy, the OIB is a national security insurance policy ... we may not need it day to day, but when we do, we need it to be responsive, dependable and reliable."  
 
The caucus, co-chaired by U.S. Representatives Walter B. Jones (R-NC) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), is a bipartisan group of House members dedicated to policy issues that affect military industrial facilities, including depots, arsenals, ammunition plants, shipyards and energetic material production facilities. The caucus serves to educate other members of Congress on matters of importance to the military depot and industrial facility community, as well as advocate for necessary changes in policy.

Commanders who manage Organic Industrial Base sites and key Army officials also attended the event.

Loebsack, who represents Rock Island Arsenal and the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, said it’s vital to preserve the Organic Industrial Base.

“As a military parent, I’m thankful for the workforce at our organic industrial facilities that work every day to put equipment in the hands of our troops,” he said.

Via said the combination of sequestration and the end of combat operations have created significant pressure on the command’s ability to sustain workload at the arsenals and depots. He cited the negative impact of unpredictable budgets and year-to-year funding on maintaining efficient industrial operations and a viable workforce.
 
Those financial impacts were echoed by Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller Hon. Robert M. Speer, who said the unpredictability impacts Public-Private-Partnerships that play an important role in maintaining the industrial base. Speer also stressed the importance of production continuity at depots and arsenals and the need for them to stay competitive.

“We must become more efficient in our business practices to ensure the right skill sets and workforce size meet projected workload requirements,” Speer said.  Competitive rates, working closely with industry and partnering, he said, would optimize usage of the Organic Industrial Base. 

Since World War II, the Army’s industrial base facilities have declined from 77 locations to the current 23.

J. Randall Robinson, principal deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, talked about the importance of right-sizing the Organic Industrial Base through modernization. He said maintaining capacity and the Quality Work Environment were key to that effort. 

Arsenals, depots and ammunition plants are staffed almost exclusively by civilians, with nearly 20,000 current employees.

Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower & Reserve Affairs Hon. Debra S. Wada called the group’s attention to those civilians, saying it was important to recognize the civilian contribution -- not only at the arsenals, depots and ammunition plants -- but across the country. Wada said their efforts contributed to the Army’s success over the past 14 years of war.

Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson said it was important that everyone work together to ensure the Army’s industrial base is protected.

Via encouraged the repeal of sequestration, noting its impact on Army readiness and Soldier and employee morale. He also encouraged lawmakers to ensure the continuation of Overseas Contingency Operation funding and the promotion of Public-Private Partnerships.

“This is about ensuring that we never deploy America’s sons and daughters into harm’s way without being the best-trained, best-led and best-equipped,” Via said.

U.S. Army’s Organic Industrial Base
Anniston Army Depot, Alabama
Anniston Munitions Center, Alabama
Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas
Crane Army Ammunition Activity, Indiana
Hawthorne Army Depot, Nevada
Holston Army Ammunition Plant, Tennessee
Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Iowa
Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, Ohio
Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, Missouri
Letterkenny Army Depot, Pennsylvania
Letterkenny Munitions Center, Pennsylvania
Lexington-Blue Grass Army Depot, Kentucky
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Oklahoma
Milan Army Ammunition Plant, Tennessee
Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas
Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Virginia
Red River Army Depot, Texas
Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois
Scranton Army Ammunition Plant, Pennsylvania
Sierra Army Depot, California
Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pennsylvania
Tooele Army Depot, Utah
Watervliet Arsenal, New York
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