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NEWS | March 31, 2023

AMCOM commander discusses modernization, readiness, force capabilities during AUSA

By Nicholas Janeway

The AUSA Global Force Symposium was held in Huntsville March 28-30 and the Aviation and Missile Command was there to provide insight into Army modernization, readiness and force capabilities.

Maj. Gen. Tom O’Connor, AMCOM commander, delivered remarks during a Warriors Corner event titled, “Integrating the Sustainment Digital Thread to 2040.”

“Global Force is a tremendous forum,” O’Connor said of the annual event. “It gives us all the opportunity to collaborate, network, and look for those opportunities to build capabilities and share ideas and understanding of where we are in our fight.”

O’Connor told the Von Braun Center audience, which consisted of defense industry vendors, executives, and military leaders, that teamwork is vital to the Army’s success now and in the future.

“The defense of our nation, its values and our way of life requires all of us – government, industry, academia, as well as our partners and allies – to work together to innovate and invest in building and maintaining the capacity and the capabilities required to deter aggression and win, or if deterrence fails, to be able to fight and win,” he said. “Because winning matters.”

O’Connor discussed operating in a contested environment and understanding the implications of sustained operations and the logistical lessons learned from it.

“We’ve learned some lessons from the recent supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19, limited access to raw materials, workforce turnover, cyber disruptions, and the current geopolitical environment,” he said. “We’ve observed some impact to our critical infrastructure and to how we do business today.”

As a result, O’Connor said “we’re realizing some significant delays in delivery materials that are impacting our current readiness. And readiness is a top priority.”

O’Connor said these delays are also due in part to higher demand and global requirements. He also stated the importance of both Letterkenny Army Depot and Corpus Christi Army Depot and how they are helping with the Army’s modernization efforts, as well as meeting those requirements.

“Our nation relies on the depots,” he said. “There is demand today and there’s no doubt there will be demand tomorrow.”

O’Connor said AMCOM is constantly looking at ways to improve logistics and the depots will play a role in that.

“Investment in the capabilities of our depots to provide alternate sources of repair will mitigate risks to the supply chain,” O’Connor said. “Our depots and arsenals are providing the nation with strategic readiness and the strategic depth across our defense industrial base.”

He stressed one of the main challenges for aviation, missile, and ground combat systems is parts obsolescence. Because the Army keeps its systems longer than industry, parts will need to be refreshed at a higher rate. Which may even require reverse-engineering components in order to maintain those systems through advanced manufacturing and 3D printing and creating a digital thread.

“We’ve been talking about a digital thread for years in a manufacturing capacity,” he said. “It's a clean-sheet design, tracing the digital thread from digital design through digital engineering, leveraging physics-based modeling to help understand performance parameters, to inform prototyping decisions and then taking that data to streamline the manufacturing process.”

O’Connor said resources and requirements must align to ensure we have the technological solutions to solve these problems and move forward. And regardless of the challenges, it is important to ensure the warfighters have what they need to sustain operations today, because large-scale operations in a contested, logistic environment will significantly amplify all of those challenges.

“What we do today matters,” he said. “What we do today ensures that we have the conditions set to excel and maintain that decisive advantage tomorrow.”

O’Connor praised AMCOM logisticians for tackling these problems head-on and he said, “as Gen. Pershing once said, ‘infantry wins battles, logistics wins wars.’”