Ensuring Force Readiness through Materiel Diversification
From Armor & Mobility/October 2017
General Gus Perna
U.S. Army Materiel Command
General Gustave Perna currently serves as Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command, Huntsville, AL. GEN Perna’s other command assignments include: Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, where he oversaw policies and procedures used by 270,000 Army logisticians throughout the world. Prior to joining the Army staff, he served for two years as Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/4, U.S. Army Materiel Command. GEN Perna also served as Commander, Joint Munitions Command and Joint Munitions and Lethality Lifecycle Management Command, responsible for the lifecycle management of $40 billion of conventional ammunition; Commander, Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Defense Logistics Agency, responsible for the procurement of more than $14.5 billion worth of food, clothing, textiles, medicines, medical supplies, construction and equipment items for America’s Warfighters and other customers worldwide; Commander, 4th Sustainment Brigade, where he deployed the brigade to combat operations during OIF 05-07; Commander, 64th Forward Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, where he deployed the battalion to combat operations during OIF I; Deputy Commanding Officer, 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Corps Support Command, Fort Hood, Texas; and Commander, B Company, 143rd Ordnance Battalion, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
LTG Perna’s key staff assignments include: Director of Logistics, J4, U.S. Forces-Iraq, responsible for sustainment plans and policies for strategic and operational logistics to sustain coalition and joint forces; Executive Officer to the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency, supporting the Director’s mission of providing Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and other federal agencies with logistics, acquisitions and technical services support; Ordnance Branch Chief, Human Resources Command; DISCOM Executive Officer and G4, 1st Cavalry Division, where he deployed to Bosnia; 544th Maintenance Battalion Support Operations Officer and Battalion Executive Officer, 13th COSCOM; and G4 Maintenance Officer, 13th COSCOM, where he deployed to Somalia as a member of Joint Task Force Support Command.
A&M: What are your priorities and focus for Army Materiel Command?
GEN Perna: As the Commander of Army Materiel Command (AMC) and the Army’s Senior Logistician, my number one job is to synchronize and integrate the total capabilities of the vast materiel enterprise in support of the Chief of Staff of the Army’s priorities and Combatant Commander requirements. To that end, we are laser focused on three priorities, nested with the Army: strategic readiness, the future force, and Soldiers and people.
Readiness remains a top priority, and we are operationalizing the enterprise, focusing our efforts on our output to deliver and assure Army materiel readiness. Accountability is key as we synchronize our efforts. We have to see ourselves and hold ourselves accountable while we manage and mitigate risk.
Keeping pace with the scope and evolution of global threats is the Army’s business. Within the Army, AMC is closely aligned with the Training and Doctrine Command and Forces Command in setting the conditions required to sustain our current and future force – a force fully prepared to meet future contingencies in an era of global instability and uncertainty.
None of this could be accomplished without our dedicated Soldier, civilian and contractor workforce. From the artisans and skilled craftsmen at our arsenals, depots and ammunition plants, to our engineers and scientists – our diverse workforce understands that our collective tasks equip the Soldier on the front line. While we are geographically dispersed across the country and around the world, every member of our workforce in some way touches the front line. I continually remind our employees that their proximity does not directly correlate with their impact to the battlefield.
A&M: How is AMC working to streamline supply chain efficiencies across the force?
GEN Perna: Demand uncertainty is inherent in military logistics, and that is the environment in which we must operate. Years of rapid reaction to battlefield requirements in support of our warfighters led to inefficiency and excess in the supply chain. We have improved our systems and processes now, and we are being proactive instead of reactive to redistributing excess equipment in support of unit needs.
We have made great strides to incorporate tools and automation to provide the most optimal and comprehensive view of our global supply chain. The ability to see ourselves across the materiel enterprise is key to effective decision making. From establishing enterprise metrics to standardizing procedures and improving our forecasting, tools like the Materiel Common Operating Picture link readiness at the unit level to resourcing at the operational and strategic levels. We have also added Enterprise Resource Planning solutions to combine the efforts of multiple systems that track support, maintenance, supply and other capabilities.
We can see ourselves and our on-hand equipment better than ever before. We have visibility of equipment across the force – shortages and excess, and that is allowing us to improve unit equipment readiness rates, and ultimately increase our Army’s materiel readiness. Across the materiel enterprise, we continue to examine our supply line and processes by divesting excess parts, eliminating redundancies and incorporating best practices.
A&M: How does AMC partner with industry and academia to maximize collaborative efforts to deliver capabilities to the field?
GEN Perna: Army Materiel Command works closely with our partners in industry and academia to upgrade existing platforms and develop and integrate cutting-edge technologies. Through collaborative research and development agreements, the Army, industry and academia pursue innovative solutions that match current and emerging battlefield requirements. From assured position, navigation and timing, to cybersecurity, we continually work in cohort to enhance our strategic advantage.
Our successful efforts improve capabilities near and long term. In collaboration with industry, we are currently digitizing the cockpits of our workhorse helicopter – the Black Hawk. Upgrading the analogue cockpits of the L model and converting them to the open architecture digital V model is one of many successes that improves our battlefield advantage. Similar enhancements are occurring across all platforms at our life cycle management commands. Our industry partners have been, and continue to be, critical to our modernization investments.
We anticipate technology to be a major player on tomorrow’s battlefield with autonomous vehicles, robots, lasers and drones. We continually challenge industry and academia to find resourceful solutions to the Army’s top challenges.
A&M: What is AMC’s role in supporting the Army’s Multi-Domain Battle concept?
GEN Perna: In this changing and complex world, the battlefield of tomorrow will be nothing like that of the past. Our Armed Forces need to be prepared to fight across all domains – land, sea, air and cyber – to defeat our adversaries. The fight will require joint, expeditionary logistics to support it, and the Army’s materiel enterprise must be ready to respond.
As we prepare to face a new and unpredictable battlefield, we must challenge our status-quo and rethink our basic tenets when it comes to supply and sustainment. From three-dimensional printing of repair parts on the battlefield, to autonomous resupply, AMC is optimizing how we deliver capabilities that will empower commanders and units on the ground.
A&M: What is the current strategy for Army Prepositioned Stocks and what is planned for the future?
GEN Perna: Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) play an important role in assurance and deterrence and are essential in creating tactical and technical overmatch. Prepositioning equipment around the world provides the ability to rapidly equip forces and bridge the gap until air and sea lines are established. While the purpose of the equipment is to support Army operations and contingencies, the APS strategy is evolving to match our ever-changing environment.
AMC is operationalizing APS into combat-configured sets prepared to meet Combatant Commander requirements and timelines. Ready-to-fight prepositioned equipment, stored in adequate infrastructure and complemented with improved issue processes, is the end state. The revised APS strategy is clearly defined and synchronized with Army initiatives and flexible in response to changing requirements.
A&M: Any closing thoughts?
GEN Perna: Materiel readiness is the Army Materiel Command’s business. Our efforts span from the shop room floor to the most sophisticated research laboratories, with a singleness of purpose that binds our organization. Our leaders and workforce are committed to ensuring our warfighters have the right equipment, supplies and support when and where they need it; bottom line, Army Materiel Command ensures our Soldiers remain the best-equipped fighting force in the world.