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Gen. Via visits Rock Island Arsenal Center of Excellence

Col. David J. Luders (right) discusses the process of  a foundry pour with Gen. Dennis L. Via.

The Commanding General of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, Gen. Dennis L. Via, toured the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center and visited with staff from Joint Munitions Command and Army Contracting Command-Rock Island on August 21.

Via's visit served to highlight RIA as an AMC Center of Excellence with global missions in logistics, munitions, contracting, engineering and manufacturing. Via also pointed to the Arsenal as a strong partner with the Quad Cities and surrounding region.

RIA has more than 4,500 employees who report to AMC, which include Army Sustainment Command, JMC, ACC-RI, RIA-JMTC, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center-Rock Island and Edgewood Chemical Biological Center-Rock Island.

During his visit, Via emphasized the importance of having a predictable budget for the Army, the negative impacts of sequestration, the need for Overseas Contingency Operations funding for the next three years, and the importance of AMC and the AMC Center of Excellence at the RIA.

Via said uncertainty about sequestration and the lack of a defense budget are causes of concern for the military. These concerns are amplified for AMC and the Army, since "in-theater, the Army provides 40 percent of the combatant commanders' capabilities," said Via.

"For every Soldier, there are a couple of logistics people providing them with everything they need," said Col. William "Bill" Bigelow, AMC public affairs officer.

Via said the Army has to have predictable budgets, and not having predictability creates enormous inefficiencies, especially when you're talking about a manufacturing center that has a global supply chain.

Via was impressed with RIA-JMTC and its ability to reduce costs, while promoting fast turnaround in the manufacturing of vital components for our fighting forces.

"This is one the tremendous facilities we have within the United States Army and the Army Materiel Command, and it provides a critical capability to our nation," said Via. "Places, like those here at Rock Island Arsenal, are able to help us reset equipment to manufacture parts we need, and to ensure that what we send our men and women forward with, are going to allow them to accomplish their mission and return home safely to their families."

"I always talk about organic industrial space being critical," Via said. "By visiting the Arsenal and seeing its capabilities first hand, I can better fight for the resources we need and tell their story. It's a great story," said Via.

The significance of the industrial base was also stressed when Via met with JMC leadership. He stated that having a munitions industrial base is like having car insurance. You may never have a wreck in your car, but you still need to have car insurance. We need to ensure the munitions industrial base that provides products and services for our warfighters is available in the future.

"The depots, arsenals and ammunition plants are like an insurance policy the nation has to have. We must maintain a viable industrial base to meet contingencies," he said.

Via was amazed by the effectiveness and the efficiency of JMC's munitions movements during overseas operations.

"The amount of munitions you moved over the past 10 years is astounding," said Via.

He commended JMC employees for their success in moving munitions and meeting requirements.

During his visit to ACC-RI, Via discussed the fact that the contracting center's workforce manages contracts valued at more than $70 billion and executes approximately 11 percent of the Army's annual obligations.

"We never want to send our men and women into harm's way without having the best equipment, the best training and the best leadership we can provide them," said Via. 
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