Redstone Arsenal, Ala - Right this moment there are thousands of American soldiers deployed around the world. It takes a lot of support for those soldiers to be able to do their jobs. Obviously it's expensive, and just as obvious is the fact that everything has to be purchased which means there is always a contract. Certainly there is enthusiasm for supporting the war fighters, but there's something else that's a priority. "Making sure that the oversight is there, making sure that we are getting the best bang for our taxpayer bucks," said Major General James E. Simpson, Commander of the Army Contracting Command.
All the bucks that pay for what the Army does "are" taxpayer bucks. That is a constant consideration. "Not only to provide materiel readiness to the soldiers but to provide it at a reasonable cost that is the best value to the taxpayer," said Beck Weirick, Army Contracting Command.
Best value can mean a lot of things, and it changes with needs. Sometimes an actual weapons system isn't replaced, which is an expensive option. Sometimes the weapons system is improved, which can be a big money saver. A good example of taking a tried and true system is the Stinger air defense missile. They are being updated with proximity fuses that will blow up if they just get close to their intended target. The update will allow Stingers to be used in the fight against enemy drones. It's of value to both the soldiers and the folks paying the bills, the American people. "And that's what we're supposed to look for, those opportunities to reduce cost, and extend performance in the life cycle of the weapons systems that we have," said Col. Charles Worshim, the CMDS Officer.
When you talk about the systems the Army already has, you have to consider the cost of keeping them repaired and maintained, which can be expensive. The Army is trying to lower the cost by making sure soldiers can work on their own gear, rather than pay a contractor to do the work. This idea is about the soldier's responsibility to themselves to be safe, and when they can, to be frugal. "I will tell you, our soldiers are committed. They are deeply committed to that goal, and so as an American taxpayer myself, I am extremely proud of that, and I think Americans should be proud of that as well," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Darren Cook, the Command Chief Warrant Officer at the Army Materiel Command.
The bottom line, the budget for the American military is huge, but soldiers and defense workers are taxpayers too, and they appear to understand exactly what that means.