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AUSA: AMC must 'fundamentally' change

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It seemed fitting that the leader of Army Materiel Command kicked off AUSA’s Winter Symposium here as the service's focus has drifted slightly from the battlefield to its quickly aging fleet and an acquisition architecture that woefully lags behind its fellow services.

Gen. Ann Dunwoody, AMC commander, told the crowd of Army officers and industry officials that she recognizes her command's flaws. Those shortcomings, combined with the flattening of defense spending, will force the command to "fundamentally change the way we do business."

"We must find ways to adapt," she said.

Shrinking defense budgets will place significant pressure on AMC soldiers to perform more efficiently, Dunwoody said. She offered a warning to the defense industry to work with the service. The AMC chief made sure to point out to the industry executives in attendance that her command has received 262 protests last year -- with only one sustained.

But the Army's focus has not turned completely away from Afghanistan. AMC sustainment specialists have already moved from Iraq to Afghanistan to start hauling out the infrastructure built up in Afghanistan. Dunwoody credited the service's network of depots with keeping the Army running over the past decade.

She signaled that foreign military sales will increase in importance with the Army out of Iraq and soldiers starting to trickle out of Afghanistan. It's not just about adding capabilities to allies. The reality is the Army must find ways to earn money and make programs more affordable. Foreign military sales have grown 400 percent over the past eight years alone.

Dunwoody didn't commit to arming allies with a portion of the fleet of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected trucks hauled into Iraq and then driven out to Kuwait. When asked by a member of  the crowd about the fate of the hulking fleet, she said the Army is still trying to figure that one out.

The AMC commander acknowledged the service's equipping strategy will change to account for the 80,000 soldier drawdown. The torrent of strategic documents released by the service "highlights a need for institutional change," Dunwoody said.

The Army has made strides since AMC was tabbed as the lead equipment integrator, she said. However, more must be done to strip out the bureaucratic processes that sometimes handcuff the command.

If the service wants to keep up with former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey's call to stand up the Army of 2020, than the service must make its research and development practices more affordable.

"We've become unaffordable in some ways," Dunwoody said.

The Army four-star's opening speech served as a harbinger for chief Army weapons buyer Heidi Shyu's speech this afternoon. Pressure continues to mount for Shyu to restructure the way the Army buys new gear.

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