REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (December 12, 2013) – The U.S. Army Materiel Command hosted the first global town hall meeting since the conclusion of the government shutdown at the Bob Jones Auditorium here, Dec. 9.
Gen. Dennis L. Via, AMC commanding general, hosted the event and updated the headquarters staff and the almost 200 sites connected to the video teleconferencing system about the command progress over the past six months.
“It goes without saying, it’s been a very challenging six months for our Army and especially for the Army Materiel Command,” said Via, as he reminded the command of the impacts of sequestration. “Where we normally would have a year to work through a budget, we didn’t have a budget.”
Sequestration took effect in March, and over the course of six months the Department of Defense was tasked to identify $38 billion dollars in cost savings, which resulted in six furlough days, restricted overtime and hiring freezes.
“In spite of that, through the great work of all the commands – all of our staffs across the board – we were able to close out the year very well,” said Via.
He specifically mentioned the budget personnel, remarking that they “responsibly obligated our funds to meet our requirements” at the rate of 100 percent across the command.
“This is a tribute to the great folks we have working in the G8 and also in Army Contracting Command, Office of General Counsel and everyone that had a role in making the [budget closeout] happen,” he continued.
More important than the year-end close out was meeting the needs of the deployed warfighter.
“We still have men and women deployed in harm’s way. Sometimes we can tend to forget about that because it’s not on the front page of the news every day; but there’s still 50,000 men and women deployed along with civilians supporting them and our contracting teammates,” said Via. “We met their mission requirements in theater. I didn’t receive any calls from any commanders identifying a shortfall they were unable to meet.”
He gave the credit again to the workforce at the headquarters and the staff across AMC.
“We still had units deploying to theater during that time and none of those units had a shortfall,” Via added. “It was phenomenal work across the board.”
Via noted the challenge of recognizing the workforce for the great job they had done in closing out a challenging year, while at the same time, enduring the government shutdown which sent civilians home on furlough. He recounted this moment as one of the toughest in the past six months.
In spite of this, AMC still managed to meet the goals set.
For example, the small business staff for the first time in many years exceeded the small business goals, Via said.
“We support the warfighter; we deliver readiness. If we fail to do that we become irrelevant. We have to understand what the warfighter requirements are; we have to anticipate what the warfighter requirements will be. When they are not thinking about readiness, sustainment and maintenance, we better be. So that when they ask, it’s there,” said Via.
Via spoke of AMC’s support to the Filipino typhoon relief effort as an example. When the lead general officer in the relief efforts phoned AMC for support, AMC answered. AMC had already forecasted what would likely be needed, assembled the necessary experts, and met the general officer’s requirements to support the cause, Via said.
The town hall also gave Via an opportunity to provide an update on the command priorities and the sexual harassment and assault prevention program [SHARP], and answer questions from the staff.
A theme among the questions were concerns about the possibility of future furlough days and how the command planned on managing future reductions.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced in October that the Army would cut its two-star and above headquarter-level staff by 25 percent, which includes AMC and its major subordinate commands.
The command will use every tool in the personnel tool kit to meet the 2015 reduction, Via said, making reference to options like early retirement incentives.
“A reduction in force is a last resort,” he said.
While remaining optimistic about the future, Via stated that he doubts another furlough will occur.