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NEWS | March 8, 2024

AMCOM leaders stress obsolescence, supply chain risks, partnerships during industry briefings

By Michelle L. Gordon

Leaders from throughout Team Redstone spoke directly to industry partners during the Advance Planning Briefings to Industry event held March 5-7 on Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

APBI provides a forum for information exchange and discussion between industry, academia and government participants. It is also a platform for the more than 70 tenant agencies on the arsenal to forecast their anticipated acquisition needs and future opportunities. 

Hosted by the Aviation and Missile Command, the three-day event featured 28 guest speakers who spoke directly to the theme: “Building partnerships to deliver ready combat formations.”    

AMCOM Commander Maj. Gen. Tom O’Connor welcomed the more than 600 registered attendees to AMCOM headquarters. He said he looked forward to the transparent and open dialogues to resolve some of the problems he is currently facing, calling Redstone a “nexus of opportunity for business.”

“This Advance Planning Briefings to Industry event allows us to share thoughts, ideas and challenges we’re facing and find a way to help develop and integrate solutions across the board,” O’Connor said.

Following a brief overview of AMCOM and its mission, O’Connor detailed the specific challenges that keep him up at night.

He said, “There are certainly some places and spaces we know we’re challenged. We are seeing long lead times, and it’s all tied to the production of raw materials, so we are trying to find a solution. If I order a part today, I can’t wait 18 months for it to be delivered and installed on a combat system; a Soldier in the field can’t be without that weapons system for 18 months while we wait for the part to be procured and manufactured.” 

In addition to reducing long lead times associated with parts production, O’Connor also asked for creative and innovative solutions to assist with buying down obsolescence risk in current weapons systems.   

“Whether it’s advanced manufacturing, digital design and modeling, or reengineering of components, there are opportunities out there for businesses to ensure we resolve some of our challenges and address some of our readiness concerns,” O’Connor said.

AMCOM Logistics Center Director Brian Wood reiterated O’Connor’s request for obsolescence assistance when he spoke to the APBI attendees.

“Those of you in the electronics business, you understand the life cycle of electronics and how something is good today and obsolete tomorrow,” Wood said. “We have to get ahead of that. We have to plan appropriately, and we have to identify those areas where we are experiencing obsolescence well in advance so, collectively, we can put together mitigation strategies to overcome that obsolescence.”

The AMCOM Logistics Center is involved in every stage of the life cycle of a weapons system — from acquisition to development, through modernization and ultimately disposal or demilitarization. Wood highlighted the top 10 challenges he faces and where industry partners can provide assistance, but he focused on the top three: obsolescence, long lead times and raw material availability. 

He noted that the latter two are often linked.

“We are seeing tremendous growth in lead times associated with raw material availability,” Wood said. “In the aviation world, some of that is due to the commercial industry coming back in full force now that we’re out of COVID.”

Wood said the critical mitigation strategy is communication, and he further explained that he means collective communication throughout the entire supply chain network. 

“As we share information with you, we highly encourage you to share that information with your suppliers. We have to be ready to fight tonight, so we have to identify how to buy down lead time, particularly when it comes to raw materials. All of these supply chain issues add up to risk for us to enable readiness by providing our Soldiers what they need when they need it.”

Both O’Connor and Wood ended their presentations by stressing the importance of public-private partnerships between the defense industrial base and the Army’s organic industrial base.  

“There are opportunities for you to partner with our organic industrial base to reduce your capital investment and leverage the government’s capital investment in order to ensure we can sustain our systems,” O’Connor said.

Wood told the industry partners to consider Corpus Christi Army Depot and Letterkenny Army Depot as potential sources of supply rather than only as sources of repair. They can be manufacturing partners.

“Partnerships enable readiness,” Wood said. “And that is ultimately why we are all here, to enable readiness for our Soldiers.”