Army Materiel Command History: 1960s
August 9, 2012
After being around for 185 years, the Army decided in the early 1960s to change its logistics system. Times had changed.
The previous system dated to the Revolutionary War. It saw the Army through America's wars up through the Korean Conflict. Modern warfare, however, required a change.
"Arsenal for the Brave," a historical report on the establishment of Army Materiel Command stated the evolving nature of technology and logistics necessitated the change. There was a "growing uneasiness in both the executive and legislative branches of the Government over the Government's ability to manage and control its massive Defense effort, particularly in the spectacular area of research and development."
Eisenhower called for this change toward the end of his presidency, explaining that the United States had no armaments industry and could no longer "risk its safety on emergency improvisation."
The new secretary of defense in the Kennedy Administration was Robert McNamara. He was no stranger to management, restructuring and organization. Prior to heading the Pentagon, McNamara had been president of Ford Motor Company. He was one of the "Whiz Kids," a group of 10 former Army Air Corps members who helped reform a faltering Ford.
Soon after taking office, McNamara established Project 80 (Army) "to study the functions, organization, and procedures of the Department of the Army." Deputy Comptroller of the Army Leonard W. Hoelscher led it. The Hoelscher Committee began in April 1961. Its recommendations would become "the basis for one of the most sweeping reorganizations in the history of the Department of the Army."
The committee's guidance was not to reorganize the Army. It was "to analyze the existing organization and make whatever recommendations deemed appropriate." The committee finished in October 1961. It proposed the U.S. Army Materiel Development and Logistics Command (MDLC) with three elements:
1. Research, development, procurement, and production of Army materiel
2. Test and evaluation
3. Supply system management
The Hoelscher Committee reported to the Traub Committee, headed by Comptroller of the Army Lt. Gen. David W. Traub. It recommended an 18-month implementation period for the Hoelscher Report's recommendations. President Kennedy approved the plan in February 1962.
The Army selected Maj. Gen. Frank S. Besson to lead the MDLC planning group. In March 1962, McNamara requested an accelerated implementation date less than 18 months. Besson, now a lieutenant general, in April proposed Aug. 1. McNamara approved on May 8.
In May the MDLC activated under a new name: Army Materiel Command.
AMC stood up Aug. 1, but some of the Technical Services offices remained to ease the command's establishment. By December, all missions and people were in AMC.
Editors Note: This is part two of AMC's 50th anniversary series which will include insight from each decade and comments from people who worked with AMC throughout the years.