AMCOM Commander Update:
“Gentlemen, the officer who doesn’t know his communications and supply as well as his tactics is totally useless.”
– General George S. Patton, USA
Our nation has been at war for the past 13 years. During every ground convoy, for every key leader engagement, and throughout every firefight there has been one constant – Army Aviation. From the CH-47 moving troops and supplies, to MEDEVAC UH-60s landing at the point of injury, to the AH-64 conducting close combat attacks in support of the ground force commander, the Soldiers on the ground rely on Army Aviation to accomplish their missions.
We are an integral part of the combined arms team – a team based on trust. Trust that when that Soldier needs aviation support it will be there. Every day Soldiers rely on the readiness of our fleets to accomplish these missions and countless more without fail. AMCOM delivers that readiness.
Six months ago I assumed command of AMCOM and moved from a world where my Soldiers benefitted from the hard work being done by AMCOM and
the members of the Army Aviation Enterprise, to the role of sustaining our fleets in a challenging and uncertain budget and planning environment. I came to AMCOM because I wanted to give back what was given to me. I am not exaggerating when I say that I could not have completed my combat missions in Afghanistan without the support AMCOM provided to my brigade and battalion. AMCOM’s workforce is working hard every day to find ways to support high levels of readiness within tight budget constraints. It is a challenge, but within every challenge there are opportunities, and we are seizing them in multiple areas.
The essential missions of AMCOM: providing optimal and responsive supply & maintenance support, including test measurement calibration support, have not changed. We have modified our mission statement, after conducting an internal look at our performance against higher headquarters’ goals, to reflect the requirement to optimize our organization to support Army Transformation.
Our major focus areas include maintaining fleet readiness; transitioning our activities and organizations to match Army right-sizing plans; maintaining and building a world-class workforce; increasing our agility in multiple areas, including deployment readiness; and executing missions driven by the Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI), and other directives received from higher HQs. So within our organization’s mission of supporting our Soldiers, a major goal for me is to support AMCOM’s workforce, so that they can in turn deliver responsive support to our Soldiers at the point of need.
We remain focused on AMCOM’s number one objective – supporting and enabling readiness of our fleets. To support that objective, we are making internal changes which will shift portions of AMCOM HQs to a more “operational” focus, to ensure we improve our situational awareness of the Army’s missions and focus. My role in this process is to proactively support combat aviation brigade (CAB) commanders by reaching out to them, through monthly video teleconferences (VTCs) and other means, to inform them of impending actions, learn the issues they face, and then work with them on the solutions. Critical communications messages we deliver through other means, such as safety notices and airworthiness release messages, are other examples of where our employees affect readiness every day.
Immediate and Long Range Actions
Actions we are taking that contribute both to immediate readiness enhancement and long-term improvement include maintaining and expanding our corrosion control program, by expanding customer assistance and site support with relevant topics such as identifying unit corrosion costs, and assisting with care of supplies in storage (COSIS).
Other examples include a program to improve the training and versatility of our logistics assistance representatives (LARs); and continuing with multiple programs that improve our supply chain and its ability to deliver parts to our units. Through these and numerous other activities, especially efforts to improve capabilities at our maintenance/reset sites, we are striving to ensure that AMCOM’s resources are within arms’ reach of our Soldiers, and that there are no units suffering from a “have not” status for readiness.
Actions with long range impacts include taking on the mission of storing and maintaining deployable aviation maintenance equipment sets; continually looking at ways to improve the performance of our two depots; finding the “next generation” of test/measurement equipment to reduce the calibration burden on our customers; and capitalizing on our very large Security Assistance and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) mission to help reduce costs of parts and depot support. I have learned that our depots are national treasures that provide fleet readiness enhancements in multiple areas, to include rapid crisis response capabilities, and I am committed to working with all responsible agencies to maintain AMCOM’s depots as a “best value” provider to Army aviation’s short and long-term requirements.
I am optimistic that we can leverage FMS to keep our supply chain and depot repair capabilities “warm” by replacing declining U.S. Army requirements with demands from FMS cases, and am making this a personal priority. Frequent personal contact with current and potential customers of Army aviation and missile products will help us achieve these goals, which also support critical DoD engagement objectives.
Transitioning to Army 2025
Support to aviation programs’ life cycle management process is a critical portion of our transition to Army 2025. We embed AMCOM employees within the PM shops to ensure we support their needs, primarily in logistics planning. By working on systems’ logistics support concept plans, we seek to reduce the burden on the Army of the costs of sustainment, which historically comprise 70% of a system’s total costs, from cradle to grave. We can also use this avenue to reduce Soldiers’ maintenance burden – for example, we need to seek ways to “engineer out” the phase maintenance requirements that consume so much aircraft down time, and this is accomplished through the equipment procurement process.
We also need to work with project managers (PMs) to reduce the use of contractor logistics support (CLS) and increase the use of green suit and organic depot maintenance – changes which will produce cost savings, and improve Soldier training and preparation for wartime requirements.
The bottom line is that AMCOM must be as agile in executing its sustainment mission as our Soldiers are in executing their missions. Your supporting force in AMCOM must adapt, along with the rest of the Army, to the Army’s 2025 end state requirements that include regionally aligned forces, rapid deployment capabilities, a reduced logistics footprint, and an ability to exploit and leverage technology. And AMCOM must be able to provide reliable, proactive, and effective support to all Army aviation systems, including UAS.
This requirement includes systems purchased by our friends and allies, as well as those in our CABs. And similar to our customers, AMCOM must develop and retain a surge capability to ensure that unforeseen and contingency requirements are met, with no disruptions to our Nation’s joint warfighting capabilities.
Meeting the Challenge
We will meet this challenge by recruiting and retaining excellent employees, and we’ll build our bench strength through targeted training and career development assignments. Outstanding personnel make good units great, and that truth applies in AMCOM as much as it does in an attack battalion. We will train, develop, and empower our workforce, to ensure we support the greatest aviation force ever assembled.
I am honored to have the opportunity to serve our Army’s warfighters while leading a premier logistics organization, and I look forward to finding ways to improve the support we provide Soldiers in the weeks and months ahead.
MG James M. Richardson assumed command of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL on June 12, 2014, after previously serving as the deputy commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, TX.