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September 2012: Driving an Army

TACOM’s Warren facility continues to drive Army

By Amanda Lee

Pages 13-14

While Southeast Michigan rightly became synonymous with the moniker the “Arsenal of Democracy” during World War II, the proud legacy can sometimes lead to misconceptions about the level of innovation still occurring in the region’s defense industry.

The U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) headquarters in Macomb County
serves as one of the best avenues of bringing cutting-edge technology, equipment and supplies to the warfighter on the 21st century battlefield. It stands as a leader in the defense industry for the development, acquisition, fielding and support of ground and soldier equipment.

“We are the center of excellence for the ground combat vehicles and support the majority of the equipment in a Brigade Combat Team, which is our basic maneuver formation in the Army,” TACOM’s Major General Michael J. Terry said. “With our partnerships with TARDEC and the Program Executive Offices: Ground Combat Systems, Combat Support and Combat Service Support and Solider, and academic and industry, we are constantly researching, developing and fielding the latest technology – never losing focus of why we exist – to support the soldier, our most precious resource.”

“Our mission is to develop, acquire, field and sustain soldier and ground systems for the warfighter through the integration of effective and timely acquisition, logistics and cutting-edge technology.”

Changing of Command at the Inauguration of Major General Michael J. Terry

While headquartered in Warren, TACOM LCMC has over 24,000 personnel at more than 100 locations worldwide, including seven total U.S. locations. Of that number, the 170-acre Warren location has 7,887 full-time civilians and contractor employees and 236 military members. TACOM’s total annual command payroll is over $2.4 billion dollars. Its contracting center executed over $16 billion in contracts in fiscal year 2011 – with a lot of that money staying right here in
Southeast Michigan.

As an LCMC, TACOM works to transform soldier and grounds systems, providing the Army and the U.S. Department of Defense with more flexible and versatile combat capability within a more adaptive and responsive management structure.

“Simply put, we support a diverse set of products throughout their life cycles, from combat and tactical vehicles, armaments, watercraft, fuel and water distribution equipment, to soldier, biological and chemical equipment,” said Terry, who noted TACOM manages more than 2,000 major and 34,000 secondary items for the Army.

“TACOM has been at the forefront of ensuring Army readiness for nearly 70 years and has constantly been evolving during this time,” he said. “Our roots go back to World War II’s Arsenal of Democracy in Detroit. That was when, in 1941, the first M3 Lee Medium Tank was produced at a Detroit Arsenal tank plant here in Warren.”

Despite that legacy, there are no shortage of challenges as the nation debates cuts to forces and defense spending heading into a presidential election.

“The Army and TACOM LCMC are in the midst of a major ongoing transformation of our product, processes, people and culture. The revitalization of our industrial base facilities is one of our key current initiatives. Our stakeholders, the American public, need to understand the value of the work we perform.”

As the defense industry awaits key budget decisions by the federal government, Terry said the U.S. Army has been the beneficiary of ample resources over the past decade, which helped place the country’s major weapon systems at the highest readiness rate in history. He added that funding has been there to support more than 1.1 million soldiers who have deployed to combat during the past 10 years.

“As our Army continues to perform unified land operations around the world, we will ensure we are postured to support future requirements when and where called as we await future budget decisions, which will most likely have an effect on the Army,” he said. “The fiscal reality is that we will get smaller. How we do it is the hard part.

“Setting priorities and channeling resources will be the next step in our efforts to ensure we provide the capabilities that our force needs in the future,” he continued. “I believe we will be facing some challenging times, but our Army and TACOM will continue to execute our mission requirements based on the guidance provided by our senior leaders.”

Terry stressed that TACOM will continue to ensure those at the facility are “wise stewards” of the resources they are entrusted with. He said that TACOM has achieved validated cost efficiencies of $138 million in fiscal year 2010 and $151 million in fiscal year 2011.

“Some of the key operational challenges we see facing us and the defense industry include maintaining employee critical skills sets, and ensuring we maintain a viable and responsive industrial base in a time of constrained resources,” he said. “We are also facing industrial base challenges, such as identifying requirements in the out years, workload alignment, balancing commercial and organic capabilities, rightsizing the industrial base, and maintaining and sustaining the roles and missions of our depots and arsenals.”

Amanda Lee is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.