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Life-Cycle Management: Reducing the Burden on the Soldier

The life-cycle management command initiative is changing how the Army’s technology, acquisition, and sustainment activities function. What does this change mean for the soldier in the field?

As reported in the last two issues of Army Logistician, the Army has undertaken a major initiative to bring together the major subordinate commands (MSCs) of the Army Materiel Command (AMC) and the program executive officers (PEOs) and program managers (PMs) reporting to the Army Acquisition Executive (AAE) to form life-cycle management commands (LCMCs). The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASAALT), who is also the AAE, signed an implementation directive on 5 October 2004 establishing the first LCMC, the Aviation and Missile LCMC at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. Army Logistician invited the commander of the Aviation and Missile LCMC, Major General James H. Pillsbury, to discuss the LCMC initiative and what it means for logisticians in the field.

What is the basic thinking behind the LCMC initiative? What problems with the current structure of AMC MSCs and PEOs and PMs is the initiative designed to remedy?

Since its creation in 1962, AMC has grown and undergone many reorganizations. Much of the organizational change has sought to address the question of how best to manage the command’s two major functional areas—materiel development and materiel readiness (or sustainment). AMC’s organization has tended to alternate between periods when the two functions were merged into MSCs largely organized along commodity lines (aviation and missile, tank-automotive, etc.) and periods when the two functions were separated. The latter arrangement was most clearly evident from 1976 to 1984, when AMC was known as the Army Materiel Development and Readiness Command (DARCOM) and organized into parallel commodity MSCs, one for research and development and one for materiel readiness for each commodity area. In 1984, the parallel commands were reunited into single commodity MSCs and AMC reassumed its original name. Then, in 1987, the materiel development and acquisition functions were largely removed from AMC to a new structure of PEOs and PMs reporting to a new position outside of AMC—the AAE. This change, to some degree, reinstated the DARCOM division between materiel development and acquisition functions and sustainment functions.

At present, the missions remain divided, the ASAALT with development and acquisition and AMC with sustainment. The vision of the life-cycle management command is to unite those mission areas by creating single commands with responsibility for all three areas (technology, acquisition, and sustainment).

The organization chart of the Aviation and Missile LCMC looks rather complicated. To what degree will the staffs of the Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) and the PEOs and PMs be integrated?

The Aviation and Missile LCMC initially will be comprised of all elements of the current Aviation and Missile Command and the Program Executive Office, Aviation. The PEO Tactical Missiles and the PEO Air, Space and Missile Defense are working on plans to merge into a single PEO. Effective 1 June 2005, the merged PEO Missiles and Space organization will be included as part of the Aviation and Missile LCMC.

I am the commander of the LCMC, and Paul Bogosian, PEO Aviation, assumes additional duties as the Deputy to the Commander for Aviation. When the newly merged PEO Missiles and Space joins the LCMC in June, Brigadier General Mike Cannon will assume additional duties as the LCMC Deputy Commanding General for Missiles and Space.


The intent of the LCMC concept is to better integrate Army acquisition, logistics, and technology efforts through closer alignment of AMC’s major subordinate commands with their regionally associated PEOs under a single commander, who will be the focal point and have primary responsibility for the life cycle of all of the groupings of systems assigned to the LCMC. Today, system development and acquisition responsibilities reside in the PEOs and sustainment falls to the AMC MSCs. The PEOs remain the single point of accountability for accomplishing program objectives through the integration of total life-cycle systems management.

The LCMC will involve all command and PEO elements in a more integrated environment that will influence near-term readiness, future modernization, and sustainment. PEOs will have closer ties to the sustainment community, assuring the smoother flow of better products to the field, while retaining direct links to the AAE, in full compliance with the provisions of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act. The PEOs will be able to work as an integral part of the AMC MSCs, while continuing to report directly to the AAE. AMCOM elements will have enhanced input into acquisition processes to influence future sustainment and readiness.

The AMCOM staff will initially form the nucleus of the LCMC coordinating staff. The PEO staffs and the AMCOM coordinating staffs will remain unchanged initially, but an in-depth “bottom-up review” of staff functions is planned to identify opportunities to gain efficiencies through additional centralization or decentralization. Realigned staff functions may reside at the command level or in the PEO staffs, as determined in the bottom-up review. Following this review, a general officer steering committee comprised of AMCOM and PEO senior leaders will make the final determination on which functions, if any, are consolidated or further decentralized. The intent is to develop LCMC and PEO staff structures that provide maximum support to the PEOs and weapon system teams as they manage the life cycle of the weapon systems and to relieve the PEOs and PMs of administrative staff responsibilities so they can better focus on system acquisition and soldier support.

What role will AMC’s Research, Development, and Engineering Command play under the LCMC initiative? How will it support the Aviation and Missile LCMC?

The Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) is a strategically and operationally aligned partner of the LCMC. AMRDEC will continue to provide life-cycle engineering and technology transition to the LCMC through integrated support to weapon system teams. The AMC Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) will coordinate the support provided to the Aviation and Missile LCMC from other RDECs, the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and Army Research Office (ARO), and the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA). [The other RDECs are the Armaments RDEC (ARDEC), Tank-Automotive RDEC (TARDEC), Communications-Electronics RDEC (CERDEC), and Natick Soldier Center at the Soldier Systems Center (SSC).] The matrix support concept, which provides functional specialists to the PMs from AMCOM and the AMRDEC, will continue as the preferred method of configuring the support elements required by the PMs in performing their total life-cycle management responsibilities.

The LCMC provides the organizational structure to support integrated weapon system teams. The first of these teams, initiated by the Project Manager Cargo Helicopter, in 2002, will become the model for future Soldier Focused Life-Cycle Management (SFL) teams, which will be developed over time and tailored to meet the unique needs and requirements of each PM and the weapon system supported. The end state will be SFL teams established for all PMs within the command, covering every aspect of life-cycle management for supported systems.

What is Soldier Focused Life-Cycle Management?

SFL is an organizational and management transformation for weapon systems management that focuses on integrating AMCOM, related PEOs, and supporting functions at the operational level in order to make significant improvements in readiness and the go-to-war capability of each weapon system.

Under SFL, the project manager will provide day-to-day operational control and guide the decisionmaking processes that affect the weapon system, including overseeing supporting activities from AMCOM—such as the Integrated Materiel Management Center (IMMC), Acquisition Center, Security Assistance Management Directorate (SAMD)—and the AMRDEC. Operationally controlled personnel will maintain a strong and clear relationship with their owning organization. The initiative is based on robust, actionable information flow about equipment status, beginning at the weapon system and flowing back to a combined PM/AMCOM team. SFL enablers are being designed to provide the PM with the necessary information and inputs with which to make decisions that will maximize system performance and minimize the sustainment burden for the soldier.

How does SFL improve support system readiness and support to the field?

The purpose of SFL is to maximize both the service provided to the soldier and the go-to-war capability of the weapon system. In the field, the soldier cares little about how the acquisition and sustainment communities are organized or managed. What is important to the soldier is having a functional weapon system (reliable and effective), having a single point of contact when help is needed, and having all the folks back home do everything possible to minimize the soldier’s burden. The logistics assistance representative (LAR) and the AMRDEC Aviation Engineering Directorate (AED) liaison engineers (LEs) are the soldier’s direct interface in the field for support from the acquisition and sustaining bases. The SFL team will improve system readiness by giving the LAR and LE a direct conduit to the total support structure for the system. SFL teams will improve the go-to-war capability of the system by improving communication, decisionmaking, system optimization, and response times to the soldiers’ needs.

The SFL concept solves many coordination and optimization problems that have resulted from the separation between the weapons system acquisition and sustainment communities. The concept provides for a single person to be accountable for and in control of the readiness of a weapon system.

How will this work?

The activities necessary to support the life cycle of a weapon system have previously been divided between two Army elements and, within those elements, multiple organizations and directorates. Part of the SFL concept is to integrate each of the activities necessary for the support of the weapon system life cycle into a single team under the day-to-day management of the PM. These weapon system teams will be composed of elements from the PM, Acquisition Center, IMMC, SAMD, and the AMRDEC, with a portion of the personnel physically collocated with the PM.

However, SFL is much more than collocation. Collocation only sets the stage for efficient and effective management and coordination. Integration is the desired state and is attained by collocating supporting personnel with a single weapon system authority and establishing common metrics and process improvement tools, such as robust information flow from the field, readiness modeling capability, Lean [management principles], and Six Sigma [methodology]. This integration is expected to produce significant improvements in weapon system support to the warfighter and equally significant improvements in life-cycle management effectiveness and efficiency.

When will it happen?

The plan is to incorporate the SFL weapon system management concept in each of the aviation and missile weapon systems in fiscal year 2005. An ideal situation would be one where lessons learned from the CH–47 [Chinook helicopter] pilot program could be used to develop a “model” for SFL implementation that could be used for each weapon system. The reality, however, is that not all SFL implementations will look alike. Differences in weapon systems’ life cycles will affect the form of the SFL teams, and differences in the matrix structures of the missile and aviation teams may also result in different SFL team structures. However, the general principles of consolidating the activities of a weapon system life cycle and giving control and authority to execute the life-cycle management mission to the PM will remain the same.

How will you know if it is working?

For the CH–47 SFL team, the best measure of our ability to meet the soldier’s need is the readiness of the system as measured by its go-to-war capability. For the CH–47 pilot program, all of the metrics used to measure the weapon system are being correlated to the three primary vectors: reduction in downtime rates, reduction in demand rates, and reduction in total cost of ownership. By managing and improving the activities that most significantly improve these three areas, the CH–47 SFL teams will reduce the maintenance burden on the soldier in the field and improve the go-to-war capability (and thus the readiness) of the system. A cross-functional integrated process team (PEO/PM, AMCOM, and the AMRDEC) has been established to develop the system of measurements that will be used to assess the effectiveness of SFL and the LCMC concept.

SFL implementation is providing unparalleled weapon system support that reduces the burden on the soldier, meets the Army transformation goals, and affords the project managers an unprecedented capability to manage their combat systems and accurately predict a true “go-to-war” capability. The focus of this effort is improved system availability and readiness, continuous performance improvement, reduced operating and support cost, and truly integrated life-cycle management. The three top priorities of this transformation are—

• Reduce the burden on the soldier.
• Reduce the burden on the soldier.
• Reduce the burden on the soldier.


Major General James H. Pillsbury is the Commanding General of the Army Aviation and Missile Life-Cycle Management Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He previously served as the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–4, at U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army in Germany. General Pillsbury is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, the Transportation Officer Advanced Course, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College. He has a B.A. degree in history from Trinity University in Texas and an M.S. degree in international relations from Troy State University in Alabama.