New PEO Ammo leader embraces inter-service cooperation, strong relationships
"Fantastic job!" Jim Shields exclaimed in one of his first public comments as acting Program Executive Officer for Ammunition."Ooh-rah!"
By exclaiming "ooh-rah," Shields, an Army civilian member of the Senior Executive Service, sent his thanks to the Marines for their participation in the Change of Management ceremony held July 17.
The Marines, members of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Corp Regiment, used 105mm cannons to fire off the 17-gun salute for his predecessor, the retiring Brig. Gen. John J. McGuiness.
Having served as program manager for the Joint Lightweight 155mm Howitzer Program, a U.S. Marine Corps led program, Shields understands how Marines shout an affirmation-it's pronounced "ooh-rah" in the Marines and "hoo-ahh" in the Army.
Shields and his Army teammates worked cooperatively and successfully with Marines in the JLW 155mm program to deliver more than a thousand howitzers to U.S. Soldiers and Marines who benefitted from the cannon's light weight, improved transportability, and increased mobility in combat operations, as well as its ability to fire the latest generation of precision munitions.
"I think to this day is the best example of a successful joint program," said Shields.
He credited that success largely to how the two services worked together and forged agreements on requirements that resulted in a Joint Operational Requirements Document that both services were happy with.
"Even though we had two separate users, the two services agreed on 99 percent of the requirements, which made the program executable," Shields said.
<span style="font-weight: bold">LEADING PEO AMMUNITION </span>
Shields's experience in promoting joint cooperation will come in handy in his new position.
PEO Ammunition is the Single Manager for Conventional Ammunition (SMCA), a designation it received from the Defense Department that integrates the requirements of all services to buy ammunition under more economical terms that benefit the military departments and the taxpayer, as well as help maintain and support the vitality of the ammunition industrial base.
As with the Lightweight 155mm Howitzer, PEO's success in its SMCA role will also depend on its ability to build agreements among the services related to requirements and specifications.
With his engineering and program management background in both ammunition and weapons systems, Shields's experience in a joint environment will contribute to how he leads PEO Ammunition through the organization's coming challenges.
His experience as an engineer includes serving the Army's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, where he work on the M712 Copperhead, the first gun that launched guided projectiles and was the precursor to Excalibur, the Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative and the Precision Guidance Kit.
Shields also spent eight years with Crusader-an artillery modernization effort-as an engineer specializing in armaments and re-supply. He would later become a lead armaments engineer and, ultimately, the Crusader Systems Engineering and Integration Division Chief.
While working with Crusader, Shields became immersed in the DOD 5000, which are regulations that guide the acquisition of weapon systems in the Defense Department.
The DOD 5000 influences how research engineering and project management are organized to develop the most cost effective warfighter capabilities.
His training and experience with the acquisition process under Crusader prepared him for the project management of weapons systems that would lie ahead.
He became Deputy Program Manager for the lightweight 155mm program serving under USMC Col. Steve Ward and USMC Col. John Garner while he was part of the Army's PEO Ground Combat Systems, working for Kevin Fahey.
"Being surrounded by those great leaders helped me grow as a deputy PM and opened up the door for me to become the Joint Program Manager and eventually the DPEO Ammunition," Shields said.
Shields became deputy program executive officer in November of 2009.
"There's no better preparation for being a PEO than being a deputy PEO," said Shields. Not only did he become familiar with the product portfolio but also, "I learned the business of being a PEO from two G-Os," Shields said, using the acronym for general officers.
<span style="font-weight: bold">LEARNING FROM HIS PREDECESSORS </span>
When he became deputy PEO, he served under Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, who, he said, "had a great deal of focus and attention on delivering critically needed capability to the warfighter.
"He was a great motivator, driven by Joint Urgent Operational Need Statements and Operational Need Statements to field things like SPARK Rollers, Rhino, Jackal, APMI which delivered counter IED capabilities and the first precision mortar capability to the infantry," Shields said.
Of his predecessor, McGuiness, Shields said: "He did a great job as both the PEO and the installation's commanding general.
"He came on board at a difficult time, just before Hurricane Sandy hit and during an era of pay freeze, furloughs and government shutdown when civilian morale was probably at an all-time low."
In spite of all those challenges he inspired everyone to keep working to the best of their abilities to make sure our warfighter and coalition partners had everything they needed in the fight.
"McGuiness never missed an opportunity to boast about the accomplishments of Team Picatinny and the importance of the work we do in support of the warfighter." Shields said he admired how McGuiness operated around people and how he engaged them. He also noted that McGuiness had a knack for relationships, "establishing them, nurturing them and always checking back to see how things are."
In his new position, Shields reflected on the changes that have taken place within and outside his organization since 2009.
<span style="font-weight: bold">PEO CHANGES IN SPENDING</span>
The organization's total obligation authority-roughly what it spends-has dropped by about half, much of it a result of a sizable portion of the PEO Ammunition portfolio being divested and the delivery of non-program of record systems.
The organization itself, however, will be able to adapt to the changes in spending.
The Army's science and technology funding remains fairly stable, which means that in five to 10 years much of that R&D spending should be delivering weapon and ammo technologies for transition into acquisition programs that will fall under PEO Ammo.
"As far as ammo goes, if you're not shooting it in combat, you're probably shooting it in training," said Shields. "So there is a continuous need for products that come out of PEO Ammo."
PEO Ammunition must continue to reach out to our customers in our role as the Single Manager for Conventional Ammunition, said Shields.
"We have to modernize our ammunition plants to make sure they remain relevant for our future production needs and we need to become more effective in demilitarizing our ammunition."
"We spend about $200 million per year modernizing these plants and about the same amount executing demilitarization for the joint services. We've taken a more holistic joint services perspective," Shields said.
TThe U.S. Army PEO Ammunition organization has grown to include an Air Force colonel project director, Air Force and USMC lieutenant colonel liaison officers, a Navy captain and a USMC civilian project manager. PEO Ammunition also recently welcomed an Australian lieutenant colonel liaison officer.
<span style="font-weight: bold">PEO AMMO PRIORITIES </span>
At Picatinny Arsenal, Shields watched the Navy presence grow since Picatinny was designated a Joint Center of Excellence for Armaments and Munitions. br>
The priorities for PEO Ammunition remain as they were, and are listed below with comments from Shields.
1. Supporting the war effort. "You can't rest because conflict is winding down. Our adversaries aren't resting."
2. Taking care of and growing teams. Nurturing relationships is important, he said. "Always treat people with respect," Shields advised. "Getting excited doesn't add any value."
3. Delivering improved capabilities. "The focus doesn't always have to remain on creating new systems. We look to make improved capabilities with each new contract." He cited as an example the work PEO Ammunition did to deliver the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round. "We didn't just keep buying the same round. We are now buying a round that is far more capable than its predecessor."
4. Efficiency in operations. "We're not in an environment where we can do things that aren't absolutely necessary." "We've become more streamlined and have become more conscious of lowering overall costs." Shields also wants to see a continued emphasis on the Army's efficiency programs. "We have a proven track record with value engineering and a lot of experience in Lean Six Sigma."
5. Improve the industrial base. On relations with industry: "We have to be careful that guys don't leave the industry. We have to be on the lookout for single points of failure so that we are always in a position to ramp up with industry to support a war effort."
On the organic industrial base (Army owned and contractor operated facilities): Shields said they should be looked at critically. "We have to take a critical view of
our organic infrastructure and what must be modernized.
"We will have to optimize our organic base to reduce costs and that may include changing how we operate them."
Having experienced a decade of conflict, the PEO Ammunition workforce is currently very sharp, and Shields wants the workforce capabilities to remain at that high level.
"We've got a high-performing workforce. We are well-organized, trained and skilled in the performance of our tasks."
Shields reflected on how employees can succeed and how he ended up in his position. "I was never one to look for promotion, but I was always pushed to take on greater responsibility. I never said no."
Based on his experience, he offered this advice to new engineers: "Don't be reluctant or hesitant to try new things outside of your comfort zone that might seem daunting or scary. See these as an opportunity to step out of your area of comfort so that you grow professionally and as a person."
Also, "if it doesn't make sense, question it," Shields said. "This isn't an environment where we can continue to do things that aren't really necessary."
"It's important to get along in your teams, but for the sake of the warfighter, never lose sight of the importance of getting it right," Shields added.
Besides, speaking up won't always result in conflict. "You might find other people are thinking the same thing and support you."
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