“Where do you work? Is there an Army base here in Michigan?” asks Major General Bingham’s new neighbors and folks she meets at the store on her way home from work at night.
Hidden in plain sight, on the corner of the major thoroughfares of Mound Rd. and I-696 in Warren Michigan is the Detroit Arsenal. Originally built in 1940 as a Government-Owned, Contractor Operated (GOCO) facility with Chrysler, the Arsenal produced tanks and armament for WWII, but, has morphed over the last 75 years into a high-tech, multi-unit facility. Home to United States Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), U.S. Army Garrison Command, Program Executive Office Combat Support Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS), Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS), Army Contracting Command (ACC-WRN ) and the overarching unit and Installation Command, and the United States Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. Today, the Arsenal employs approximately 7,500 civilian and active duty personnel–and leading all of it– is Major General Gwen Bingham.
Gwen Bingham is a native of Troy, Alabama. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science degree in general business management. She was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps as a distinguished military graduate of Army ROTC. She has a Master’s degree in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Masters of Science in national security strategy and resources from the National Defense University.
Among her leadership roles, MG Bingham has served at the Pentagon; Commander, United States Army Garrison, Fort Lee, Virginia and Chief of Staff, United States Army Combined Arms Support Command and Sustainment Center of Excellence, Fort Lee, Virginia; Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom as Special Assistant to the Commanding General, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; Kabul, Afghanistan and Kandahar, Afghanistan. Most recently she has Commanded White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The President sent her nomination for promotion to Major General to Congress on March 20, 2013.
Short in stature, but not in commanding presence or charisma, Major General Bingham, in the few months she’s been on Michigan soil, has captured the interest and support of the Michigan defense community. Taking proactive and positive steps to be part of the culture and community in her new home state, MG Bingham has become a welcomed presence at the Arsenal.
Q: Please define TACOM’s role in Michigan’s defense industry?
A: As the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, we are responsible for acquiring, fielding, developing and sustaining our ground and soldier systems for our Army. We are responsible for the overall life cycle management of these weapon systems and must ensure we provide the needed capability where and when our nation calls. We must continue to ensure we develop systems that are more lethal, more capable, more survivable and more maneuverable than our adversaries’ equipment. In order to execute this mission we continue to work with our industry partners and defense contractors to identify potential solutions for equipment requirements today and well in to the future. It is a team effort where everyone contributes to the end result of making world class systems that can stand the rigors of combat and austere environments.
Q: Do we have the talent in this region that we need to grow this industry?
A: Great question. We definitely have the talent within the organizations and community to support the defense department requirements and also have the ability with the world class professionals to grow the talent needed to meet our needs in the future. When we talk about talent we are fortunate to develop and grow world class scientists and engineers, acquisition experts, and logistics specialists that are needed to ensure we develop weapons systems that are at the cutting edge of technology and continue to ensure we maintain a capability superior to other nations around the world.
Furthermore, with the world class academic institutions such as the University of Michigan and Michigan State University there is a great learning and growing environment to build the type of experts we need in support of our future requirements. These academic institutions help produce the talent that is required throughout the defense industry. There is no better place to grow talents than in the heart of the research and development center of excellence. Furthermore, the logistics community combines their academic excellence with real hands-on experience to ensure we maintain and sustain the capabilities and skill sets needed to move our nation forward. We are surrounded by talent, which is vital to meet the challenges during these times of global uncertainty.
Q: Unity of mission is an important concept. As the Department of Defense continues to contract and decisions are being made as to the viability of Army assets, how can Michigan tell our story in a coordinated way?
A: There is a reason that the Army put missions here in Michigan 75 years ago. At TACOM we still have the original American flag that flew over the Detroit Arsenal during WWII. It is a reminder of our history and our commitment to the men and women who wear the uniform. Our mission then, as it is now, is to support our soldiers and provide them the tools to keep them safe and to give them a decisive edge no matter where our country sends them or what battles we undertake.
In Michigan you have world-class learning institutions. Logistics and supply-chain programs at Michigan State, research and development labs at U of M and most of the universities in Michigan including Lawrence Tech and Oakland University, engineering prowess at Kettering and others…These are the talents, skills and facilities needed to sustain the DoD mission. Academia partnered with the work and business culture and tradition of Michigan workers and opportunities to collaborate with U.S. Automotive companies and suppliers makes Michigan a unique environment to conduct the business of the Armed Services.
The TACOM Life Cycle Management Command is located around the world. No matter where we go, in any of our 109 locations around the globe, we spread word about the amazing work happening here in Michigan. We all need to be ambassadors for this state and our mission. I assure you, that everywhere I travel, I take TACOM and Detroit with me. If a soldier drives it, eats it or wears it, TACOM oversees that responsibility. We want folks to know we’re proud to be here.