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Army Seeks Big Leap in Organic Industrial Base

Photo by: 
U.S. Army/Debralee Best
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Army must continue transforming its organic industrial base to ensure the safety of its workforce and the readiness of the force, senior leaders said Oct. 13 during a contemporary military forum titled “Driving Deliberate Change in the Industrial Base Through Innovation, Vision and Cooperation.”

While the organic industrial base, also known as the OIB, is not generally thought of as “the pointy end of the spear,” almost everything that happens at that pointy end of the spear depends on the OIB, said Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

Speaking as part of AUSA Now, the virtual annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army, Jette emphasized that the top priority is the safety of the workforce.

Jette emphasized safety concerns by reading the names and circumstances behind three members of the workforce who died in accidents at government owned or operated facilities over the last decade. People should remember that their deaths came as a result of “trying to pursue the Army’s needs for its ability to fight and win the nation’s wars,” he said.

The Army’s organic industrial base currently includes seven depots, three arsenals, 13 ammunition facilities, three medical maintenance facilities, 18 government owned/government operated plants and eight government owned/contractor operated plants, said Gen. Ed Daly, commanding general of Army Materiel Command. 

The base technology in much of the OIB was rooted in the 1940s, and the network was subsequently enhanced with modernization initiatives introduced in many areas over the past 80 years.

“However, we need not to just simply modernize but to transform,” Jette said. “We have done a large number of modernization projects, but it still hasn't prevented all possible accidents. We need to relook facilities. We need to relook contracting. We need to look relook our organizational relationships.

“We need to get people away from the energetics,” he added. “There's no reason they have to be there anymore with technologies like robotic operations, modular batch processing, fault tolerance, multiple lines and reconfigurable production lines, batch control and better testing.”

The Army also must develop a strategic sourcing plan focused on supply chain resiliency, said Brig. Gen. Vincent Malone, Joint Program Executive Officer for armaments and ammunition and commanding general of Picatinny Arsenal.

A campaign is already underway to identify sources of supply and points of failure, he said. Experts are “identifying priority efforts and driving solutions to address risk in areas that cover multiple organizations or cross military services,” he said, adding that “we must foster practices that drive innovative solutions to emerging risks.”