To Save Money, Army Will Consolidate Truck-Maintenance Contracts Under a Single Agency

2/8/2011
By Eric Beidel
MONTEREY, Calif. - In anticipation of tighter budgets, Army leaders are seeking lower-cost ways to maintain and support the service’s fleet of nearly 300,000 trucks and trailers.
One initiative that is now being reviewed by top Army officials will be to consolidate maintenance contracts that currently are managed independently by various Army organizations, said Gen. Ann Dunwoody, commander of the Army Materiel Command.
There are nearly 80 logistics directorates that oversee more than 350 truck-support contracts valued at almost $1 billion, Dunwoody said Feb. 7 at the Tactical Wheeled Vehicles conference. Because these organizations don’t coordinate with others, the Army has been “piecemealed to death” by repair contracts, Dunwoody said.
The Army Materiel Command recently took over responsibility for all sources of repair work including depots, logistics directorates operated by the Installation Management Command, forward logistics centers run by Army Forces Command and the Training and Doctrine Command. AMC has proposed a plan to oversee all truck-maintenance contracts that previously were managed under separate stovepipes.
The new alignment, Dunwoody said, “will drive down the cost of doing business in our depots,” she said.
The Army has to adjust its business practices because the fiscal outlook is uncertain, Dunwoody said. “This is the result of 10 years with a lot of money, 10 years with a lot of emphasis on trying to protect our soldiers,” Dunwoody said. “But now what?”
A formal request has been sent to Army Secretary John McHugh that would make official the role of AMC as the sole materiel manager for the service. Despite the very name of the command, that is not the case today. As Dunwoody put it, it has become difficult for the Army to manage its “piles of stuff” because the oversight is so fragmented. “We have left-behind equipment, we have theater-sustainment equipment, theater-provided equipment, we have prepare to deploy training equipment. Lots of piles, lots of places. Different managers.”
A more streamlined approach would allow the Army to make more timely decisions and respond faster to war commanders’ requests, Dunwoody said.
“It’s time to roll up our sleeves,” she said. “It can’t be business as usual.”
The Army also is looking to new technologies to cut down on the cost of vehicle repairs. There is growing interest in installing sensors in trucks that alert crews that certain vehicle components are about to fail. This approach to supporting vehicles, known as “condition-based maintenance,” is widely used in the commercial sector but the Army has been slow to adopt it.
The goal, said Dunwoody, is to “repair when we need to repair, not because the manual says we have to repair. … That saves lives, and it saves money.”
Last month, the Army unveiled a “Tactical Wheeled Vehicles Strategy” that calls for downsizing the fleet by 15 percent. As production of new trucks slows down, maintaining the existing fleet will take on added importance, the strategy said.

Topics: Logistics, Land Forces

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