HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Business leaders joined government officials Wednesday for the panel discussion, Industrial Partnerships for Force 2025 and Beyond, here at the Association of the United States Army Winter Symposium and Exposition.
“In order to fight and win the nation’s wars, we have to have the capability to move forward,” said Army Materiel Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics and Operations Maj. Gen. Gus Perna. “We need to do things today to be ready for tomorrow.”
Perna pointed to the Army’s industrial base as a key to that goal. The industrial base includes Army arsenals, depots and ammunition plants that have been developed over the years.
“It’s nothing like the world has ever seen,” Perna said, describing the investment in those installations. “The number one priority is not to lose it.”
Despite 300 current partnerships, Perna said, “we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg.” But finding new ways to partner is key, he said. “There is not one course of action. There is not always a cookie cutter solution.”
Many businesses are already taking advantage of Army partnership opportunities, particularly in ammunition.
“Two-thirds of all dollars spent on ammunition go into commercial sources,” said Jim Shields, deputy program executive officer for Ammunition.
Army officials told attendees that the arsenals and depots are all “open for business,” while acknowledging that more can and should be done to make it easier for industry to partner with the Army.
“The key approach to protecting the industrial base is communication,” Shields said. “We need to communicate often and well with industry.”
Army Contracting Command Commanding General Brig. Gen. Theodore C. Harrison acknowledged the issue in managing an open dialogue.
“Sometimes we struggle with that,” Harrison said. “We do have challenges in trying to maintain a transparent process while keeping a level playing field.”
Retired Army Maj. Gen. John M. Urias, who is now president of Oshkosh Defense, was one of the industry representatives on the panel. He told attendees that industry was just as committed as the government to providing Soldiers with the best possible products.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Policy and Logistics Wimpy D. Pybus commended AMC for its partnering efforts, but said more can be done moving forward.
“We need to make it easier for industry partners to come to us to strike a deal,” he said.