AMC Commander reflects on year in command
September 26, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- A year after the U.S. Army Materiel Command's first change of command on Alabama soil, Gen. Dennis L. Via is building on accomplishments and looking toward the future.
August marked one year in command for AMC's commanding general, who stayed busy visiting several of AMC's entities, partners and customers across the world.
"It's been a remarkable year," said Via. "I've been tremendously impressed with the complexity and the volume of activities, support and capabilities that AMC is involved with, especially in support of our forces that are forward deployed."
The past 12 months took Via to all corners of the U.S., from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Albany, N.Y., and Concord, Calif., to Sunny Point, N.C., from Alaska to Florida, and overseas from Germany to Korea to Afghanistan.
While Via noted the importance of traveling to see AMC in action during his first year, he also focused on integrating the command with the Redstone Arsenal and greater Huntsville/Madison community. The command transitioned its headquarters from Fort Belvoir, Va., to Redstone Arsenal in 2011. The move brought 15,000 positions to the arsenal, now comprising 40 percent of the installation's total workforce.
"Our local communities are inextricably linked to Redstone Arsenal, working together for more than 70 years to write a proud history of support and innovation," Via said. "AMC is proud to call Redstone home."
In July, AMC assumed the role of Senior Command for Redstone Arsenal, responsible for synchronizing and integrating Army initiatives and establishing installation priorities.
"We have a tremendous opportunity to build upon the capabilities here, not only to support our Army, but all of the Department of Defense. Redstone already has an exceptional community partnership; our aim is to strengthen and take this DoD and Federal Center of Excellence to the next level," he expressed.
As one of three of the Army's 4-star Major Commands, AMC's influence on Redstone Arsenal, and reach across the globe, is prominent. The command has a presence or impact in all 50 states and 144 countries, with a workforce that nears 70,000 and an operating budget of around $50 billion.
"Following 12 years of war, our organization has transformed," Via said. "But our mission remains to provide; we provide for our Joint Warfighters. Our vision is to become the premier provider of Army and Joint readiness to sustain the strength of the nation."
Via said the command has become very efficient, providing predictive readiness for the Army and Warfighting formations that was not always possible.
"In the past, we provided readiness assessments, looking at previous months," he explained. "Now we can look six months in the future and provide predictive readiness, which allows the Army to see readiness states for units and better plan for future operations."
A major ongoing effort for AMC is the retrograde of equipment and materiel out of Afghanistan. As the Army draws down from 12 years of war, millions of pieces of equipment will be sent back to the U.S., loaned or turned over to allies, or sold to other nations through Foreign Military Sales.
"AMC's role is crucial to the success of retrograde operations, but we don't do it alone; we work very closely with our strategic partners, including the U.S. Transportation Command and Defense Logistics Agency," Via said. "We manage equipment from the time it leaves a forward operating base in Afghanistan until it's turned in to one of our processing yards, as it's trucked or flown out of theater to a port facility, loaded on a ship and sailed back to the United States, then trucked or railed to one of our depots or arsenals, where that equipment is reset and returned to the Army."
Since the war began, AMC has already retrograded and reset almost 3.5 million pieces of equipment. Those reset operations are the focus of AMC's transition to sustainment, and a driving force in keeping the Organic Industrial Base -- including depots, arsenals, and ammunition plants -- warm.
"The Organic Industrial Base is the centerpiece of Army readiness. They are truly national treasures," said Via. "The OIB surged to support the war effort and saw a tremendous increase in workload over the past decade. That workload has started to, and will continue to, decline as operations in Afghanistan end. Reset operations will balance that workload over the next few years, but we must preserve the unique skill sets and capabilities that will allow us to surge for the next contingency."
A major part of that effort is modernization, continuing to re-tool and invest in those facilities, within the framework of the Army Organic Industrial Base Strategic Plan (AOIBSP) signed in October 2012 by Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal.
As Via looks to the future, his focus is on building the trust the command has earned.
"We enjoy a tremendous reputation with the Warfighters; they know what we deliver, how we deliver it, and that we'll be there when they need us to be there. They trust the AMC patch," Via said. "We've got to work hard every day to build upon and garner that trust."
His other objectives include increasing partner capacity through Foreign Military Sales, preserving the capabilities of the OIB, and increasing Public Private Partnerships with large, medium, and small business, he said.
The command faces no small feat given the ongoing budget constraints.
"We will have to restructure and optimize the command so we can be best postured, despite fiscal constraints," he expressed. "As we transition, we will focus on prioritizing and maximizing the resources we do have so we can posture AMC for a bright future."
Via credits the vast AMC workforce for the command's success over the past 12 months.
"We have a tremendous workforce and will continue to deliver incredible capabilities to the United States Army and to the joint force every day," he said. "I am enormously proud every day to lead this great organization."