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NEWS | May 6, 2020

SAMD performance stays on track amid COVID-19 measures

By Gina Baltrusch U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command

When telework and travel restrictions became the prescription to help slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, employees of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command’s Security Assistance Management Directorate (SAMD) were prepared to adapt.

Whenever a foreign military sale (FMS) includes a U.S. Army helicopter or missile system, a SAMD international program manager works within the AMC Security Assistance Enterprise, requesting country’s representatives, and with Program Executive Offices to develop and deliver a total package designed to last the lifetime of that purchase and beyond. Foreign military sales help U.S. allies and partner nations get the military systems they need to protect themselves from neighboring threats, improve their nations’ readiness and enhance interoperability with U.S. forces.

“Due to the nature of our business involving significant travel requirements, most of our staff already had laptops and other mobile devices to facilitate work efficiencies,” said SAMD Director Brian Wood. “For the most part, we’re adapting to the current global environment and continuing business while most of our employees are teleworking.”

In fact, SAMD is maintaining a high level of performance in foreign military sales (FMS) case development and execution, according to Wood.

“We’re doing extremely well in all of our key metrics,” said Wood. “We’ve maintained the gains we achieved last calendar year, and are seeing improvements in some areas, especially case execution.”

Given that the pandemic is global, FMS partner nations have also been impacted and have been implementing their respective country’s safety measures, which resulted in a slowdown of incoming new requirements.

“That slowdown in new requests allowed our staff to focus their efforts on development of FMS cases for partner nation requirements received prior to the pandemic and executing implemented cases,” Wood explained. “And, we’ve been able to work through some challenges caused by the pandemic affecting the manufacturing and transportation industries to deliver the capabilities needed by our FMS partners.”

During normal working conditions, SAMD’s FMS program managers would typically travel the world to chair FMS program management reviews with partner nations, facilitate aircraft and missile system deliveries, and participate with teams that make sure the delivered systems are operational.

Coronavirus-related travel restrictions created challenges to conducting those activities, and SAMD employees worked with FMS partner nations to find the best solutions for everyone.

“The biggest impact has been our ability to have face-to-face meetings with our international partners and conduct program management reviews,” he said. “While nothing can replace the benefits of having in-person meetings, we don’t know how long travel restrictions might last, so we’re currently working with our partners to identify mutually compatible virtual-communication solutions for those meetings.”

SAMD’s employee adaptability have proven key factors in maintaining performance during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m very proud of how our employees have adapted to changing work conditions caused by COVID-19,” said Wood. “We’ve learned to be highly adaptable and make the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in. They’re following the Army and CDC guidance, keeping themselves and their families healthy, and continuing to get the job done. I look forward to seeing everyone again when we’re able to return to our normal duty locations, but for now, we are continuing our mission.”