• A Soldier poses in body armor from the 1960s.

    Body armor

    A Soldier poses in body armor from the 1960s.

  • A soldier holds the Light Anti-Armor Weapon, or LAW, in 1963.

    1963 weapon

    A soldier holds the Light Anti-Armor Weapon, or LAW, in 1963.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Aug. 16, 2012) -- Fifty years ago, Leonard W. Hoelscher and Project 80 recommended "one of the most sweeping reorganizations in the history of the Department of Army."

That was how "Arsenal for the Brave, A History of the United States Army Materiel Command" described the work of the Army's deputy comptroller and the Hoelscher Group.

Creating Army Materiel Command, known as AMC, was one of the recommendations. Six technical services previously handled the Army's logistics responsibilities. This led to duplication, overlap and inefficiencies. The group concluded these were "little armies within the big Army," said a Hoelscher Group veteran.

Lew Ashley believes his fellow Hoelscher Group members "would share a great sense of pride with today's AMC."

"Today's AMC is much more capable of providing timely and effective support to the war fighter than the organizations it replaced," said Ashley, who served on the Personnel Task Force.

"The quality of support AMC has provided to the war fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq would not have been possible with the logistics organization that existed before August 1962," he added.

Senior leadership wanted a better way. "The Army Chief of Staff [Gen. George H. Decker] was especially interested in having a logistics organization that would best serve the needs of the Army and its war fighting mission," Ashley said.

"When the Hoelscher Group recommended creation of the Army Materiel Command, it was a dramatic change in the way the Army did business in logistics," the veteran said.

Hoelscher Group members understood their mission, according to Ashley.

"Early on, the entire Hoelscher Group met with the Secretary of the Army [Elvis J. Stahr Jr.] who outlined the importance of the effort," Ashley said. "He also indicated 'there were to be no sacred cows.'"

Stahr gave the group a broad charter. They had the authority to look at anything and to go anywhere to meet their objective.

"We were to make recommendations for improvement aimed particularly at improving the Army's effectiveness and efficiency, reducing unnecessary overlap, eliminating layers of management and streamlining the way the Army did business," Ashley added.

Serving on the group as a great learning experience for Ashley. He served on the Army Staff when Hoelscher asked him to serve on the Personnel Task Force.

Editors Note: This is part three of AMC's 50th anniversary series which will include insight from each decade and comments from people who worked with AMC throughout the years.

Page last updated Fri August 17th, 2012 at 08:15