Holt And Pallone Call on Rumsfeld to Keep Battery Management at Fort Monmouth

Apr 30, 2004

Fort Monmouth, NJ --- U.S. Reps. Rush D. Holt (NJ-12) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) sent a letter late yesterday to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld urging him to rescind a recent Defense Department directive to move long-standing battery management responsibilities from the Armys Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM) at Fort Monmouth to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) operations in Richmond, Virginia. The Representatives requested a formal DOD review of the performance of CECOMs Power Source Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom before any further action steps are taken on a possible transfer to DLA

 

April 29, 2004

The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld

U.S. Secretary of Defense

The Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are writing to express our concern and objection to the January 30, 2004 OSD directive to possibly shift long-standing battery management responsibilities from the Armys Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM) at Fort Monmouth to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) operations in Richmond, Virginia. We believe that this proposal is short-sighted and ill-advised, and urge that it be promptly reconsidered, before harm is done to our nations war fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world.

The Army CECOMs Power Source Team is a seasoned, integrated staff of skilled R&D and production engineers, logistics experts, and inventory management professionals who have supplied our nations soldiers with cutting edge batteries and power source capabilities for decades. As recently as last July, U.S. Central Commander General Tommy Franks thanked CECOM officials for their extraordinary efforts in supplying lithium batteries, describing those efforts as "nothing less than spectacularthe long hours, hard work, and personal sacrifices made in support of these [Operation Iraqi FreedomOIF] operations have ensured that our war fighters have the necessary resources to successfully conduct their missions without interruption." CECOMs impressive performance during OIF stands in stark contrast to the unsubstantiated supposition on the part of some DOD officials that "that battery availability may improve if management is transferred t o DLA." In fact, there has never been a formal DOD review of the performance of CECOMs Power Source Team during OIF, and we request that one be conducted before any further action steps are taken on a possible transfer to DLA. We are confident that a fair and balanced formal review will substantiate that their performance was exemplary and that our war-fighters in OIF would have run out of batteries had it not been for the extraordinary efforts at Fort Monmouth.

There is good reason to believe that recent short supplies of some batteries for the militarys battlefield missions resulted from several years of funding shortfalls across the entire Army Materiel Command (AMC). Similar to the underestimated need for body armor, armored HUMVEES, and other critical equipment, the shortage of batteries was just that: a shortage, not a breakdown in the chain of supply. We ought not compound these miscalculations by mistakenly shifting battery management responsibilities from CECOM to the DLA. As General John Keane, former Vice-Chief of Staff noted last fall in opposing this shift, the AMC correctly foresaw the need for integrated management of batteries in April, 1996 and built that capacity into the AMC Battery Management Office at CECOM. True supply chain integration now exists at CECOM, providing " cradle to grave" responsibility for lithium batteries and ensuring rapid response to any technical or logistical issues that arise in the field.

Inherent in the technology of lithium chemistry batteries are critical safety concerns for our war fighters. When war fighters in the field have questions or concerns regarding battery use or performance, they must be addressed promptly and with the greatest expertise. It makes little sense, then, to ask the war fighter to call one place if he has concerns or questions regarding lithium batteries, and another place altogether if he wants to place an order for more. Keeping cradle-to-grave responsibility for batteries at Fort Monmouth is less burdensome for the war fighter and more efficient for R&D and production engineers looking for operational feedback.

We respectfully request that you immediately suspend any further action on this proposed shift and undertake a formal DOD performance review of the Army CECOMs Power Source Team during OIF. We want to receive the results of that formal review and they should also be shared with the pertinent committees of Congress. They should more reliably inform all of us about the pertinent facts and claims in this very important matter.

We look forward to your thoughtful and prompt reply.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

______________________                                              _______________________

Frank Pallone                                                                     Rush Holt

Member of Congress                                                          Member of Congress