Getting Soldiers What They Need When and Where They Need It

By Kern, Paul J. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Getting Soldiers What They Need When and Where They Need It


Kern, Paul J., Army


U.S. Army Materiel Command

The Army is people, always has been, always will be. Likewise, the Army's strength begins with people. Its strength stems from the courage of each person. "An Army of One"-one by one, the Army is created.

One by one, Army Materiel Command (AMC) makes sure soldiers have what they need because the strength of the Army also relies on stuff-supplies. The word "supplies" conjures up different images depending on one's frame of reference. For me, the word supplies does not usually conjure up exciting pictures, but in my career, when you think you may not have the supplies you need, things become really exciting.

The phrase, "if a soldier needs it/' drives AMC; we have been fully engaged this past year getting soldiers what they need, when they need it and where they need it.

We are continuing the fight against terrorism and at the same time we are transforming our Army. We are moving from the Current Force to the Future Force each day, almost piece by piece-from Humvees to trucks, from Strykers to advanced precision munitions. We are working hard to increase the survivability and lethality of our warfighters. Although we might use weapon systems that have been around for a while, in some critical ways they are not the same. Our weapon systems are regularly upgraded with improved components for better performance.

The Humvees are a good example. AMC quickly recognized their vulnerability to enemy fire and created ways to make them less so, actually making them three times safer. Our engineers designed and developed add-on armor kits to install on deployed vehicles. Almost 7,000 kits were made at Army Materiel Command's depots and arsenals, and we went from concept to installation in less than one year. We did it with our industrial base using four depots, two arsenals and an ammo plant-a critical capability for our nation showing that surge production really is a straight line to saving the lives of our warfighters.

Adding armor is not limited to the Humvee inventory. AMC added armor to the Army's fleet of trucks as well. Kits protecting heavy expanded mobility trucks, medium tactical vehicles and heavy equipment transporters were rushed to the theater. Reactive armor for the fleet of Bradley fighting vehicles was installed between combat patrols for some units and during the reception process into theater for others. As the lessons learned in theater were shared, the Army found that new Stryker vehicles needed added protection. Superb teamwork between the manufacturer, the project manager and our research labs enabled rapid design, testing and installation of additional armor tiles, plus innovative slat (bar) armor to defeat rocket propelled grenades. The Stryker brigade's outstanding combat performance is partly attributable to the Stryker vehicle's survivability and the confidence the soldiers feel as a result.

AMC's efforts to supply Army forces go well beyond just making vehicles safer. We deployed Pacbots, small robots, to help clear caves and buildings in Afghanistan, that helped soldiers maintain a safer distance from potential threats while they explored potential enemy hideouts. In just a few weeks, our engineers invented a maneuverable camera system, called the well-cam, to assist in the search for hidden mines and explosives, especially down wells that were difficult to check. Small arms ammunition reached more than 1.2 billion rounds this year, up from 350 million rounds per year four years ago.

As operations unfold, the Army has found that protection is needed not just for infantrymen but for every soldier in theatre. The danger to soldiers and civilians is not limited to any easily identified spot or front line that can be outlined on a map. Danger permeates the entire country, so AMC quickly moved out to ensure that every soldier was provided with Interceptor body armor. Other protections, such as the advanced combat helmet, developed in AMC laboratories and distributed through the rapid fielding initiative, directly contributed to saving dozens of lives. …

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Getting Soldiers What They Need When and Where They Need It
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