Countering Pandemic-Induced Challenges with Depot-level Precision

Colonel Marvin L. Walker
Anniston Army Depot

From Armor & Mobility, October 2020

Colonel Walker received his commission in the Ordnance Corps in 1996. His initial assignment was to the 1-43 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, Suwon, Korea, as a Shop Officer. He was subsequently assigned to Fort Benning, Ga., where he served as both Shop Officer and Support Operations Maintenance Officer.

In 1999, he completed the Combined Logistics Officer Advanced Course and Combined Arms Services and Staff School and was assigned to the 64th Corps Support Group (CSG) as a Battalion S3. He next commanded the 597th Maintenance Co., 13th Corps Support Battalion. Following Company Command, he was assigned to the National Training Center (NTC) as an Observer Controller. He deployed to Kuwait and serve as the Support Operations Officer for the 401st Army Field Support Brigade (AFSB). He served as Executive Officer to both the Army G4 Supply Director and the Deputy G4. Thereafter, he was assigned to the 18th Airborne Corps C4 in Iraq where he served as Chief of Materiel Readiness. Upon return from deployment, he was assigned to the 82d Sustainment Brigade as a Battalion Executive Officer. He was assigned to the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support as Operations Division Chief. He deployed to Afghanistan and assumed command of 3-401st Army Field Support Battalion (AFSBn). He also served as Chief of Global Sourcing, Joint Staff J4, Washington, D.C.

Prior to his arrival at Anniston Army Depot in July 2019, he deployed with the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), where he served as the Strategic Plans Chief in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College, the Joint and Combined Warfighting School, and the United States Air War College. He holds a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Air War College, a Master of Arts in Human Resource Management from Webster University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Dillard University.

A&M had the opportunity to speak with COL Marvin Walker, Commander, Anniston Army Depot, on various mission sets the depot has and continues to pursue to maintain optempo despite challenges during the current global COVID-19 pandemic. Among some of those efforts are ongoing SepV3 upgrades to M1A2 Abrams and M109A7 Paladin as well as 1790 Hercules engines and X1100 transmissions, all with full adherence to critical protocols addressing military and civilian personnel safety.

A&M: Let us know about ANAD current and ongoing mission focus as a critical element of Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command.

COL Walker: Located in Anniston, AL, Anniston Army Depot (ANAD) is a subordinate to the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) and have approximately 3000 Soldiers, civilians and contractors providing industrial and technical support to America’s warfighters, allies and joint forces. ANAD has a unique mission within the Joint Logistics Enterprise (JLEnt). As the Department of Defense’s Center for Industrial and Technical Excellence for combat vehicles (wheeled and tracked, except for the Bradley), assault bridging, artillery and small arms and locomotives, rail equipment and non-tactical generators, our commitment to providing the best possible support to the warfighter spreads well beyond our fence lines. Our support and services extend on-site to military units in other locations throughout the United States and beyond.

Additionally, ANAD provides on-site support through various types of field missions. From Small Arms Readiness Evaluation Teams, who travel to unit sites to inspect, repair and bring small arms weapons to fully mission capable status to Fielding and Rapid Repair Support Teams, who perform vehicle repair and handoff for M1, M88 and Paladin vehicles, we provide materiel readiness for the warfighter. Our Forward Repair Activity teams are 100 percent deployable and perform a range of services, including engine, transmission and generator repair; welding and fabrication; and other functions to maintain operational equipment. Finally, ANAD is the sole repair source within DoD for locomotive and rail repair. The Defense Non-tactical Generator and Rail Equipment Center– inspects, repairs and rebuilds locomotives for the Army and other branches of service.

A&M: With the Army taking a leading role in DoD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, how has ANAD been reflecting initiatives?

COL Walker: ANAD, as part of the Defense Industrial Base, is designated as Critical Infrastructure. Since the onset of COVID-19, we have maintained essential support that continues to enable the fight for our warfighters both home and abroad. With that, the safety of the workforce has been and continues to be my priority. We are very proud of our ability to sustain the pace of our operations while also protecting our workforce and the surrounding community.

A&M: As the “new normal” becomes clearer in the ongoing fight with Coronavirus, how do you see ANAD processes changing?

COL Walker: Even with the new normal, we have very resilient employees. We have adapted and become accustomed to the safety protocols of wearing face coverings, social distancing, using disinfectants, conducting meetings via conference calls, and limiting group interaction. It is difficult to do in some operations, based on space and the type of equipment we work on. However, changes have been incorporated and employees have taken ownership of the process and their safety. Essentially, we have changed the culture of long standing norms in a very short amount of time. This could not have happened with the unified cohesion, guidance and synchronization of leadership within the Army Materiel Command and DoD.

A&M: In terms of standards upgrades in depot-level practices, what are some current/forward-looking example programs?

COL Walker: Some of our current programs include M1s for the 11th ACR, Repair Cycle Floats, to include Paladins, FAASVs, Towed Artillery and M1FOVs. Also included are partnership programs such as the M1A2 SEPv3 and Paladin M109A7, and Army Readiness drivers 1790 Hercules Engines, V6 Engines, and X1100 Transmissions. We are forecasting work on these programs over the next two fiscal years. The depot represents a broad array of support with both traditional support and public private partners. Working closely with our partners we are continuously reinvigorating our processes to stay in line with the latest technological advances. ANAD has long standing relationships with major ground combat vehicle manufacturers, General Dynamics Land Systems, BAE Systems and Leonardo DRS. We also partner with major component providers like Honeywell and Raytheon. These relationships are continuously cultivated through practices of mutual respect and sharing of best practices. Partnering on new system production and system upgrades provides best value for lifecycle managers by combining resources during the procurement and operation and sustainment lifecycle phases. Additionally, ANAD continues to modernize facilities and equipment in advance of future requirements. For example, we are currently modifying facilities to accommodate future sustainment requirements for the Extended Range Cannon Artillery. This includes both the self-propelled and towed. The goal is to manage emerging technologies for equipment through proactive and progressive planning.

A&M: Any other challenges/goals/achievements looking ahead?

COL Walker: Our goal is to achieve 100 percent of requirements on time. We measure that goal as Performance to Promise (P2P). ANAD will finish FY20 at ~99% P2P. Looking forward our goal for FY21 is to finish at 100% P2P. With our dedicated workforce, I believe that will happen.