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FOCUS ON FIELDING

With the coming reduction in overseas contingency operations funding, the project manager for Soldier protection and individual equipment (PM SPIE) looked for efficiencies in the methods used to stage, field and conduct new equipment training (NET) for the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI). PM SPIE manages the RFI process, procuring, staging and fielding uniforms and equipment for all Soldiers deployed to Iraq

The PM found efficiencies in the areas of staging and delivery, developing new processes that require fewer personnel, less leased storage space and more effective tracking software.

“Every project manager in the Army has to deal with the technical and fiscal challenges of developing new equipment and getting it into the hands of the Soldier,” said COL Robert Mortlock, PM SPIE. “That means we have to watch costs in every step of the process—from testing and development to acquisition, and finally to fielding the equipment with the Soldier.”

The changes made by PM SPIE promise to save more than $68 million through FY14 without lowering fielding standards. PM SPIE’s Logistics Management Directorate began implementing the improvements in FY11 while fielding almost 7 million items of equipment, such as flame-resistant uniforms, body armor, helmets, boots, gloves and protective eyewear. These items fell into two basic categories: organizational clothing and individual equipment (OCIE) and personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We could see that with the approaching wind-down of activity in theater, theOCO [overseas contingency operations] funding would begin decreasing. My goal was to work with leadership and my team to come up with an affordable process that would not only reduce costs, but meet the Soldier’s fielding and NET needs,” said Preston Turner, director of logistics for PM SPIE. Historically, the Logistics Management Directorate has managed the fielding and NET of the latest OCIE and PPE, supporting about 200,000 deployed and deploying Soldiersa year.

“We believe NET is vital. It makes no sense to invest millions in developingand issuing the world’s best clothing and equipment if you do not train the Soldier in how to get the most out of it,” Turner said.

The drawdown from Iraq already has brought significant reductions in OCO funds. PM SPIE has seen its OCO funding decline from $1.2 billion in FY10 to less than $400 million in FY13, and more reductions will come with the drawdown from Afghanistan.

Looking to the future, PM SPIE leadership realized that its staging and delivery processes needed to be modified

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