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ICAF observes ANAD, GDLS decision-making processes

Feb 18, 2011

By Miranda Myrick (TACOM LCMC)

ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- A dozen senior military officers of the U.S. armed forces and government officials studying the land combat systems industry spent Feb. 4 at Anniston Army Depot with government officials and defense contractors to observe the similarities and differences in the way each partner-public and private-conducts business.

The students' visit to ANAD was part of the 10-month curriculum at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University, located at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington D. C. They spent the morning touring depot maintenance operations and the afternoon with General Dynamics Land Systems to see the company's Stryker plant.

"The depot is always willing to openly discuss with our students how they make decisions, and we also appreciate the depot's partner General Dynamics for the same courtesy," said ICAF professor of economics Dr. Timothy Russo.

NDU continues to send ICAF classes to Anniston because the visit gives students the opportunity to see how the depot and the industry partner-in this case, GDLS-are working for the same customer but for different incentives. That customer, whether it's the U.S. Army or U.S. Marine Corps, needs the best product at the best price, said Russo, "and GDLS uses profit to measure success while the depot uses workload and employment levels to measure success."

Depot Deputy to the Commander Jack Cline said ICAF's focus on strategy and its vision for Defense functions gives Anniston the insight it needs to develop its own strategy for the next 10 to 20 years.

"Like with most of the visits we host, this is a win-win for both parties," said Cline. "Talking with DoD leaders from ICAF also aids us in ensuring that our focus is in line with the other services."

Russo said ICAF students will be taking jobs requiring them to look at the business from a level higher than the depots and arsenals. "They are dealing at more of a strategic level where they'll understand the business plan and not necessarily what bolt goes where in the tank."

After graduation, these future executives will be better prepared for leadership and success in developing national security strategy and policy, with a focus on evaluating, marshalling and managing national resources, according to the NDU website.

ICAF students come from all branches of the U.S. military and 12 federal agencies as well as international militaries and the private sector. At any one time, ICAF will have around 320 students who are divided into 21 different industry study groups, said Russo.

"For the group that went to Anniston, they were there to learn about making purchases for land combat systems and about how to deal with the sustainment of those systems," said Russo.

College departments include acquisition, economics, military strategy and logistics, national security studies and strategic leadership. Upon successful completion, graduates are awarded a Master of Science degree in national resource strategy; military students also earn Joint Professional Military Education II credit, according to the NDU website.

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