Magazine article National Defense

Small Arms Programs Could Use More 'Jointness'

Magazine article National Defense

Small Arms Programs Could Use More 'Jointness'

Article excerpt

The small arms community-customers and suppliers-has seen an evolution in the way user demands are met by manufacturers' technological capabilities.

This is one of the conclusions that Lt. Col. "Bud" Irish reached after three years of service as program manager of small arms (PM-SA) at the U.S. Army Research, Engineering, Development and Evaluation Command (ARDEC), Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

Irish sat down for an interview during the annual Small Arms symposium last month, sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association. One of his proudest accomplishments during his tenure, he said, was improved cooperation among user communities in the development process of small arms.

Since he first took over as PM-SA in 1996, Irish saw the emergence of a clearer definition of the relationships between his office and other Army organizations involved in small arms procurement-such as PM-SA, the Joint Service Small Arms Office (JSSAP) at Picatinny Arsenal and Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. Irish sees all three agencies as complementary, with JSSAP as the leader in research and development and Rock Island as the primary product manager. During his tenure, Irish found that PM-SA had become the point of contact and the systems integrator for small arms.

As Army requirements have evolved, so has the PM-SA office. Small arms, for example, have become integrated high-tech systems with advanced fire control and other attachments to make modular weapon systems. Irish said he tried to ensure that each new attachment intended for small arms included input from the PM-SA office. He also took action so that program offices managing the development of those products included PM-SA in the procurement process.

Program Manager Role

Unlike other program managers who "field, buy and do," Irish said he now sees the PM-SA as a "configuration manager." Although the small arms community is working in concert better than ever, he had some suggestions for improving the relationships among government agencies and between government and industry.

Irish said that, after more than eight years in existence, the office of PM-SA has matured and it now makes sense to include the JSSAP in the PM-SA office, rather than treat it as a separate office. He also challenged the community to continue to improve small arms management by making the PM-SA office a joint service program. Although the Army is the proponent for small arms research, development and procurement for all four services, he suggested that making it a joint assignment would improve the current system of collaboration among the services. …

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