Top commanding general visits Aberdeen Proving Ground

Gen. Dennis L. Via, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, visited several major supporting commands based at Aberdeen Proving Ground on Friday, the post command said.

The general's visit highlighted the rapid changes that have taken place at the Harford County military installation in just six years because of base realignment, typically referred to as BRAC.

During the visit Friday, Via toured several unique facilities, including laboratories such as the Joint On-demand Interoperability Network, or JOIN, according to a news release issued by the post command.

The JOIN provides a distributed test environment for combatant commands, military services, inter-agency, multi-national and coalition partners. It allows these groups to collaborate and forge new avenues for joint interoperability communications to meet the demands of the future operational environment, according to John Kahler, JOIN chief.

Via recalled JOIN from its former location at Fort Monmouth, N.J., and said he was impressed with the improvements that occurred with the move to Aberdeen Proving Ground and the construction of the new facility.

Aberdeen Proving Ground is home to 11 major commands and supports more than 90 tenants, 20 satellite and 17 private activities. According to the post command, the installation provides facilities to perform research, development, testing and evaluation of Army materiel.

APG facilities include laboratories for research investigations, state-of-the-art ranges, engineering test courses for wheeled and tracked vehicles and a wide variety of research. The installation also supports a wide variety of training, including mechanical maintenance, health promotion and preventive medicine, chemical and biological defense and chemical casualty care, chemical demilitarization. APG also is host to National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve operations and training.

According to the APG news release, Via said he plans to visit all of his major commands' posts, depots and activities. He has spent a great deal of time traveling during the first 100 days of his command tenure at AMC. Via said he is impressed with what he has seen so far and credits his most valuable asset, the people of AMC.

"AMC is not the same organization it was 10 years ago," Via was quoted in the news release. "We have organizations today that didn't exist in 2006. I would dare to say we won't be the same organization in 2015 or 2020. That includes CMA, CECOM, RDECOM, even the garrison here [at APG]. Things are changing here."

Via capped the day with a town hall meeting at the post theater, during which he discussed the way ahead for AMC, discussing the organization's priorities, challenges and opportunities. Via said AMC's top priority must be support to the joint warfighter. Among his other priorities is setting conditions for successful transition to sustainment.

"We can't wait until it happens," Via said. "We must set the conditions now, even while we continue to support combat operations. It's no different than setting the conditions for successful BRAC relocations while we're still supporting the wars."

The APG news release noted that CECOM had what has been lauded as one of the most successful BRAC moves in the entire Department of Defense, with nearly 70 percent of the personnel relocating from Fort Monmouth to APG.

Via said the major challenges on the horizon for AMC and its major subordinate commands are the next contingency operation and resetting the Army after 11 years of sustained combat operations.

"We have to make sure we are resetting the right equipment for the next contingency, for the next mission...that we are getting it [equipment] to the arsenals and depots and back to the units so they can regenerate combat readiness to be prepared to deploy for whatever comes next," he said.

But along with the challenges Via said he always sees the silver lining and tremendous opportunities. One of the key opportunities AMC has, he said, is the trust the command has built with the warfighter over the years.

"The warfighter knows what we'll deliver," he said.

Via said the AMC patch is well recognized on the battlefield. People know they can count on AMC to deliver.

"AMC is an operationalized command now," he said. "We're down at the installation level - down in brigade combat teams and at the company level. We have a capability we didn't have before."

In ending his presentation, Via said: "Thank you. You are part of a winning team. There is nowhere at which that is more demonstrated than right here at Aberdeen Proving Ground."

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