ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — In the heart of the Midwest lies an Army installation named Rock Island Arsenal located on a 3-mile-long island in the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois. Though some may not know that RIA exists, the arsenal has been supporting combat readiness for more than 150 years.
Today, Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy visited this historic installation to see how the commands and units based here provide readiness solutions and are modernizing to meet future challenges.
McCarthy was accompanied on his visit by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, both of Illinois, and Gen. Gustave Perna, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.
“The Rock Island Arsenal is a national treasure for what it performs for the nation,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy’s visit started with a briefing by Maj. Gen. Duane A. Gamble, commanding general of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command and RIA senior commander. During the briefing, Gamble explained how ASC provides globally responsive strategic logistics capabilities and materiel readiness, enabling combat units to conduct the full range of military operations.
“Through never accepting the status quo, we have continued to improve our Army Prepositioned Stock program,” said Gamble. “We are reducing working to reduce the time units have to draw equipment in theater.”
Perna echoed Gamble’s statement.
“Not only is ASC saving time and money, they are exponentially increasing the readiness of our equipment for Soldiers to draw,” Perna explained. “This process once took up to two months; now, it can be done in as little as 96 hours”
Next, Brig. Gen. Heidi Hoyle, commanding general of the Joint Munitions Command and Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command, discussed the ongoing effort to reform munitions readiness. JMC provides the conventional ammunition life-cycle functions of logistics sustainment, readiness and acquisition support for all U.S. military services, other government agencies, and allied nations as directed.
“Our munitions enterprise is built on the remnants of a 75-year-old strategy from World War II,” Hoyle stated. “When we look to reform our model, we want to ensure that a Soldier at basic training drawing a training round has the same confidence when they draw a round down range.”
McCarthy said that the updates resonate with the Army’s goal of transformation through modernization.
“I had a great time meeting with the employees here today,” McCarthy said. “I had a discussion about the investments that we will make in the future as we continue to strengthen this arsenal.”
After the briefings, McCarthy, Durbin, Bustos and other Army senior leaders toured the RIA Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center. RIA-JMTC is the U.S. Army’s multipurpose metal manufacturing arsenal that designs, manufactures and delivers readiness solutions to the Army and joint services. While on the tour, the leaders learned about the center’s future expansion into additive manufacturing and witnessed a foundry pour.
“The Arsenal must continually modernize our equipment and develop our highly skilled workforce to deliver readiness solutions to the Army and Department of Defense systems globally,” said Col. Kenneth W. Letcher, commanding officer of RIA-JMTC. “By becoming a Center of Industrial Technical Excellence for advanced manufacturing, we are improving the process of getting equipment and materiel from the factory to the foxhole more quickly.”
Rock Island Arsenal and other installations that make up the organic industrial base are key to the Army’s readiness, McCarthy said, and will play an important role in transformation and modernization. The Under Secretary specifically pointed to additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, builds material up layer-by-layer.
“Additive manufacturing I believe is the future,” McCarthy said. “It is in the DNA of this arsenal. It has been around a long time. There is a reason for that. The workforce has evolved and it will continue as we need them to meet the needs of our future Army.”
McCarthy and the other leaders wrapped up their day at RIA by meeting with Lt. Gen. Stephen Twitty, commanding general of First U.S. Army, and Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes Jr., adjutant general of the state of Illinois. Together, they discussed the readiness of the Army Reserve and National Guard during a working lunch.