REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. –
Tim Goddette, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Army for sustainment, visited the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command headquarters on Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, March 20 to discuss nondestructive testing and corrosion program efforts.
Goddette serves as the lead for the Army’s Corrosion Protection Program. He is responsible for defending the dollars associated with corrosion in the budget. The purpose of the visit was to fully understand AMCOM’s process when it comes to training Soldiers and identifying systemic issues that lead to corrosion.
Corrosion defects undetectable to the untrained eye, are made visible by special testing methods known as nondestructive testing, which uses technology such as ultrasound.
“The NDT team and corrosion team usually travel together,” said Dave Ware, AMCOM G-3 Quality Support branch chief. “It’s a corrosion program. We don’t separate NDT from corrosion; it’s one program. Their whole focus is corrosion and when they aren’t in the field doing corrosion training and surveys, they are prepping for the next trip.”
During fiscal year 23, the team is scheduled to visit 10 locations worldwide, spending approximately two weeks at each to reach as many Soldiers as possible.
“The team goes to each individual combat aviation brigade and also the missile community,” said James Snyder, AMCOM G-3M division chief. “They are technical experts who physically look at and document what they see on the platforms. That information is rolled up and fed back up to Mr. Goddette so he can start to see what the trends are within each individual platform; sometimes it’s very specific to a region or a specific location. For instance, Japan is a highly corrosive environment.”
While water and salt are the biggest threats for metal when it comes to corrosion, AMCOM’s Corrosion Team Lead Jon Martin said industrial areas have their own issues.
“You have to consider industry and smog,” he said. “Acid rain plays into it, so they may be landlocked, but when it rains, that acid rain gets on the equipment, so it’s not just a matter of salt or dust or dirt. If they aren’t washing their equipment, that plays a factor. Corrosion is a byproduct of mold and mildew.”
Goddette was primarily focused on the feedback loop — not just identifying and correcting the problem at the unit level but reporting up to ensure those same problems are addressed service-wide.
“As you find issues in the field … look at the approximate cause of the issue related to corrosion and breakdown it down into doctrine, training, leadership, materiel, etc.,” Goddette said. “That helps me consolidate the reports and then I can go back to the agency responsible for each one of those functional areas. As opposed to saying we have 29 corrosion issues and then it dies on the vine. What I’m trying to do is close the loop.”
A former Soldier himself, Martin said he understands the hesitance his team receives when they enter a unit’s footprint. However, he said he immediately tries to get that guard down and assure the commander they are there to help, not document where they are failing.
“We are giving the command team a holistic look at what their components look like, what their equipment looks like, their aviation ground support equipment, all of their aircraft, their corrosion programs, etc.,” he said. “We need them to be as transparent as possible so when I talk to the command team, I tell them we’re not here to poke you in the eye; we’re here to give you an outside look at your corrosion program so that it meets the Army standard, not the AMCOM standard, but the Army standard.”
Ware noted that the effects of corrosion are never good for any piece of Army equipment, but for aviation, they are urgent due to the uniqueness of airworthiness standards.
“If I’m driving down the road in a tank and my transmission goes out, I pull off, I disembark, the recovery vehicle comes and gets me and takes me away,” he said. “If I’m traveling down the air space in a Chinook with a bunch of Rangers in the back and four crew members and the transmission goes out, it’s catastrophic, so we have to approach it a little bit differently.”
Goddette listened, asked questions and requested follow-up information to ensure he fully understands the process, because without a detailed justification, programs may lose funding as the Department of Defense tries to balance competing priorities.
“When you go into resource review, you’ve only got a couple of minutes to make sure that people understand the little nuances,” he said. “I’ll continue to educate people and get them a little smarter on the importance of the corrosion program.”