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Faces of the Bradley Industrial Base

After more than 30 years designing and delivering combat vehicles built to help soldiers take on some of the battlefield’s toughest threats, employees at BAE Systems and hundreds of suppliers across the United States are facing a threat of their own: an industrial base shutdown.

Employee: Jim Harvey

When he’s not at the BAE Systems York, Pa. facility running the paint department, Jim Harvey is serving with the South Carolina Air National Guard.
Jim Hrvey Jim Harvey

After serving in active duty for the U.S. Air Force, Jim Harvey started working at the BAE Systems facility in York, Pa. in 2006 as a mechanic and tester for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle production line. To continue his service to his country, Harvey also joined the South Carolina Air National Guard in addition to his work with the company. 

Harvey was a mechanic and engineer in the Air Force and turned to BAE Systems as a place to put his skills to work for an important cause. He thought that his skills in keeping an airplane flying could also be used to keep a Bradley driving. As a National Guardsman, he also needed to find an employer that was supportive of the ongoing duties with the Guard.

Since working at BAE Systems, Harvey has taken several leaves to attend engineering apprentice and craftsman school and intelligence analyst school in order to further advance in his military career. He has also been deployed to Bosnia, Cuba, Kuwait and Afghanistan and while doing so, Harvey’s career at BAE Systems has thrived.

“BAE Systems has always understood the unique talents and skill set Guard and Reserve service members can bring to the civilian workforce,” said Harvey. “The company has been good to me and my family while I’m away – I truly couldn’t ask for a better employer.”

After his initial position with BAE Systems as a mechanic and tester, Harvey accepted a management position to run the test facility, then later the turret line and he now manages the paint department in York. Harvey has been a part of the Bradley production from cradle to grave and finds his unique daily experience of working with these vital combat vehicles extremely humbling.

Currently, BAE Systems is working with the U.S. Army to prevent a complete closure of the Bradley Industrial Base production and supply chain beginning in mid-2014, which is part of the Army’s funding plan today.

Harvey is concerned about the threat of shutting down the Bradley production line not only on his career, but the country’s national defense. If a shutdown occurs, Harvey is most concerned that Soldiers won’t have the right vehicles for their missions. With his experience in the Air Force and the National Guard, he understands first-hand how service members rely on their equipment to support their mission and a shutdown would threaten that confidence.

“When the time comes to protect our county, maintaining these vehicles and having them ready for a worldwide deployment is really important to the U.S.,” said Harvey. “Everyone in this country benefits from what we do here and what the Bradley Industrial Base contributes to our national defense.”

Employee: Tom Walko

Tom Walko knows how to build a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and he knows intimately how Soldiers rely on it in theater.
Tom Walko Tom Walko

The first time Tom Walko came in contact with a Bradley Fighting Vehicle was in the mid-1980s as a U.S. Army cavalry officer right out of West Point. Over his 11-year active duty career in the Army, Walko served four consecutive overseas tours in the Federal Republic of Germany and was deployed during the Persian Gulf War. Through his experience in combat, he saw first-hand how important Bradleys were to his team and to the Army.

“Bradleys kept my team alive,” Walko said. “There are many Soldiers I know that wouldn’t be alive today if they weren’t riding in a Bradley.”

This is what motivates Walko every day working at the BAE Systems York, Pa. facility. Currently, Walko is the manager of program quality assurance, overseeing program quality assurance for over thirty BAE Systems Land & Armaments programs including U.S. Army combat vehicles – the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and M88A2 HERCULES.

Walko touches every part and process of the vehicle program, from reviewing contracts, to shipping, to lifecycle management. He’s worked with welders, engineers, painters and most everyone else who uses their diverse experience to create the best possible combat vehicles for our U.S. armed forces.

“We truly make the best armored vehicles on the planet here and being a part of the technological evolution of these vehicles has been extremely humbling,” Walko said. “The upgrades we work on enhance battlefield awareness, survivability, lethality and protection – it’s amazing and it’s due to the thousands of people at BAE Systems and suppliers across the country.”

BAE Systems is working with the Army to prevent a complete closure of the Bradley Industrial Base production and supply chain beginning in 2014, which is part of the Army’s current funding plan. The threat of a Bradley Industrial Base shutdown is troubling to Walko, who has visited 79 countries throughout the world and has experienced extreme angst that exists towards the U.S.

“We need the capability to protect ourselves and our national interests, and make the world a safer place – this is part of what the Bradley Industrial Base does,” said Walko. “The U.S. has to be more capable than its enemies and three years lost means we will be three years behind in developing future technology.”

If a shutdown occurs, Walko is most concerned with retaining the skills needed that take several years to learn within the industrial base, which are used to develop new technology and keep combat vehicles cutting edge.

“Soldiers don’t want to be fighting in a vehicle that is ‘good enough.’ They need to be fighting in the best possible equipment we can offer and those who are a part of the Bradley Industrial Base make it their mission to provide them with just that,” Walko said.

Employee: Alice Conner

Alice Conner, engineer Alice Conner, engineer

Since joining the BAE Systems team in York, Pa. in the late-1980s as one of very few female engineers in operations as well as in her graduating class at Penn State University, Alice Conner has become an indispensable staple, mentor and leader to the hundreds of employees she works alongside. In her tenure, she has worn many hats and currently serves as the director of manufacturing integration and deployment. Part of her responsibility is overseeing a team of engineers that build tracked-armored combat vehicles for the U.S. Army at the manufacturing facility in York.

Conner’s connection to the military runs deep. Her father was a U.S. Air Force pilot in World War II, her father-in-law is a former U.S. Marine and her eldest son is presently at Fort Benning, Ga. completing Officer Candidate School for the U.S. Army.

As a military mom and defense industry engineer, Conner understands the critical need to maintain a skilled workforce, high-quality production and the industrial capability to ensure military readiness for the U.S. armed forces. Unfortunately, Conner believes all are under threat. The Army’s current funding plan will force a complete closure of the Bradley Industrial Base production and supply chain from 2014 to 2017.

A Bradley Industrial Base shutdown will result in serious long-term consequences for the Army, the taxpayers, and the loss of unique industrial capabilities, skilled labor and jobs, and leaves us without unique-to-industry skillsets that take years to train and perfect.

“The York facility is a good example of the impact of a shutdown. It has been a fabric of York County for more than 50 years and one of the largest employers as long as many here can remember,” said Conner. “These employees, my team, are family to me and we’re doing everything we can to protect their jobs. These are our friends and our neighbors. Many whom are veterans and all take great pride in the products we produce.”

If a shutdown occurs, Conner is most concerned with retaining the skills needed to build and develop new technology and maintain military readiness as a country. BAE Systems is an original equipment manufacturer for the Bradley vehicle. Conner’s team is not just integrated with manufacturing but also with design and development of next generation technology to meet the requirements of the future. Shutting down the Bradley Industrial Base for any substantial period of time would significantly hinder that progress – thus hindering the U.S. military’s ability to respond to real-time threats.

“We are all very proud and passionate about what we do here and our warfighters deserve the best,” said Conner. “These engineers and workers are at the top of our field and are irreplaceable to the Army.”