For those of you who have been following our posts from the AUSA show,
I thought I’d share some thoughts about the show and what lies behind all this fuss. Most of us are back home now and chafing at the bit to follow up on the good work started there. This, of course, is a much longer-term effort and will go on for (at least) the period between now and the next AUSA show in 2015.
This fact reminded me that serving our armed forces as a supplier is much like "signing up": it’s a commitment—a commitment to listen and respond by providing the best possible products to the best military organization in the world. At AUSA, our purpose was to listen and to tell Army leaders how we are responding to what we have heard.
So we asked them, “Did we get it right?”
The answer was, “Yes—but please keep listening; we’re not done talking.”
The Army today is faced with threats that, 20 years ago, were conceivable only in science fiction stories—yet most of the platforms now in use were designed (and have been in service since!) far longer ago than that. The pace of technology and the mutability of threats worldwide forces change in tactics, mobility, sustainability and of course, performance measured in months. How can the Army cope? The answer is that it must utilize the same tools that drive commercial innovation and product evolution. The Army wants engagement with industry to deploy state-of-the-commercial-art hardware that can meet the Army’s rugged demands now, and challenges industry to bring the “art-of-the-possible” for the future.
GE has been doing this very thing in the commercial/industrial world for its entire existence. From power plants to railroads to oil, gas and water infrastructure to industrial automation, our drivers have been smaller, faster, higher efficiency, greater reliability, greater security and cost savings—the very needs our armed forces express publicly. So when we listen to Army leadership talk about these things, it’s music to our ears—but they go on. They want sustainable partnerships with industry, reliable sources of supply and innovation in the "big" problem spaces they must navigate. Like the Army itself, these partners must be "expeditionary"—able to deploy to a problem area anywhere it happens, with force and commitment.
As a steadfast supporter of our nation’s military, this is what we are doing and it’s a lot of work. But as we go about our "normal" post-show activities, we are energized, knowing we did well and knowing we have more to do. We’ll let you know how we’re doing on that front. Watch this space.