AMC in the Seventies: a decade of celebration, change
August 22, 2012
According to a historical Army Materiel Command video, this was the era where disco was all the rage, M*A*S*H was a hit television show, and "Star Wars" hit theaters. Yes, it was the seventies.
From 1970 to 1975 Gen. Henry A. Miley commanded AMC during the fielding of a major weapon system, the culmination of AMC's first decade in business, and the first building relocation.
AMC historians recorded that, AMC supplied and supported the most advanced radios, switches, typewriters, and telephones the Army had ever seen up to that time. The M-16 rifle was fielded to Soldiers and night vision devices began to emerge.
Most notable in military history was the Tube-launched Optically tracked Wire-guided, or TOW, missile system fielded in May of 1972. This was the first American-made guided missile to be fired in combat by U.S. Soldiers and the Soldiers and civilians of AMC made it possible.
To celebrate the decade of success in Nov. of 1972, Gen. Creighton W. Abrams, then Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Frank S. Besson, first commander of AMC, and more than 750 civilian and military personnel attended a gala held at Fort Meyer's Officer Club, reported in an archived article.
Shortly after the celebration, change would emerge.
The first building relocation occurred in early 1973, which moved the headquarters workforce from what is now Reagan National Airport to 5001 Eisenhower Ave. in Alexandria, Va. , The command held a contest for the naming of the headquarters. The winning entry was "The AMC Building".
But more change would occur within to the walls of AMC.
"The Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army were not very happy with the way people in AMC were interfacing with the rest of the Army," reflected Gen. John R. Deane, Jr., AMC commander from, 1975-1977. "It was two separate entities that didn't speak to each other very much. They wanted to bring AMC closer to the combat arms side of the Army."
In an effort to do that, Deane was appointed as commanding general and the first combat officer to hold that position. His first directive from the Secretary of the Army was to rename the command.
It was changed to the U.S. Army Development and Readiness Command, or DARCOM, on Jan. 23, 1976.
"We wanted to change our philosophy of how we do business and also change the attitude of the people in the command. We wanted to emphasize that readiness is a part of our business. We have a very definite responsibility for the combat readiness of the Army so we have to get out and do something about it. The renaming of the command was designed to point out this philosophy -- to indicate there is change going on now change that will continue to go on. We're not going to do business as we have in the past," said Deane, during a 1976 interview with the Army Magazine, Soldiers.
In the midst of changes within AMC, a culture of efficiencies was emerging in society and the Army began to scale down its activities worldwide. The Secretary of the Army designated the Army Materiel Acquisition Review committees to recommend improvement in the acquisition process, in 1974, which began a reorganization of the entire command an d personnel cuts.
The commodity commands that were once managed by AMC were broken into separate commands for research/development and readiness and extensive personnel cuts occurred in 1976.
From the late 1970s through part of the eighties, AMC began focusing its attention on what became known as the 'Big Five': the Apache, the Black Hawk, the Abrams tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and the Patriot Missile system.
Editors Note: This is part four of AMC's 50th anniversary series which will include insight from each decade and comments from people who worked with AMC throughout the years.