Overseas trip gives focus on war in Afghanistan
February 4, 2013
The commander of the Army Materiel Command visited deployed AMC Soldiers and foreign dignitaries during a 10-day trip overseas in mid-January.
Gen. Dennis Via and other AMC leaders took full advantage of a busy travel schedule to encourage Soldiers, facilitate foreign military sales, and gain visibility of the ongoing AMC mission.
Officials who traveled with Via, participating in briefings and tours, included Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisitions, logistics and technology; AMC Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Riling; and John Nerger, executive deputy to the AMC commander.
Foreign military sales, partnerships and prepositioned stocks were the three themes the general focused on with his visit to foreign partners in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.
The majority of the trip was spent visiting AMC-affiliated units in Kuwait and Afghanistan, viewing ongoing operations in support of the retrograde mission.
At a visit to Bagram and Kandahar, the AMC leadership met Soldiers, civilian employees and contractors who field, sustain and retrograde equipment slated to return from Afghanistan. Additionally, they were briefed on equipment, technologies and capabilities ASA (ALT) and AMC have brought to the war fighter.
Retrograding equipment out of Afghanistan will be AMC's primary focus over the next few years, according to Via.
"AMC is 'all in' for support to the war fighter on the retrograde mission," he said. "This Afghanistan mission is our mission."
Everywhere he went, Via said, he saw lessons learned and tactics, techniques and procedures established during the Iraq retrograde being incorporated into daily activities.
"Although still in a very tough fight, commanders across the theater are embracing retrograde as an operational mission. As we go about enabling commanders to move equipment where it's needed, as the mission changes, they are focused on reducing excess equipment and materiel," he said.
During the upcoming retrograde mission, AMC's forward-deployed Army Field Support Brigades will work hand-in-hand with the 1st Theater Support Command and division and brigade combat team commanders to prepare equipment for return to the U.S. When equipment returns from theater, much of it will begin the reset process at numerous AMC depots. AMC's subordinate command, the Army Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, plays a critical role in the movement and transportation of equipment in and out of theater.
"Our AFSB's are postured for the work that is coming our way. We now have to focus on velocity and thru-put to make this mission successful," Via said.
Seeing the retrograde process in action emphasized the mission's importance, according to Nerger.
"I've always understood it's a big mission -- but being in Afghanistan allowed me to experience it firsthand, to see the complexity of the conditions being faced and how much we have to do in a short period of time," Nerger said. "Doing all that while still transferring control to the Afghanistan forces, advising and assisting -- all while combat operations are still being performed -- it's a tremendous undertaking."
Said Riling, "Retrograde is tough, especially while you are engaged in the fight. AMC must do all we can to support the war fighter with retrograde to make this mission successful."
While in theater, Riling ensured he spoke to AMC and subordinate command NCOs. "Leaders and Soldiers must stay focused so we can meet timelines that have been set. We must perform every task to standard," he said.
During the visit, Nerger made sure to visit deployed civilian AMC employees.
"Like Soldiers -- they volunteered," Nerger said. "They didn't have to be there. Some have been deployed a couple of times. They are true patriots. I was tremendously impressed with the people we have over there, their dedication and quality. The best Army in the world needs the best possible support … and that's what our civilians provide.
"If asked, I'd say go. When you're there seeing what goes on daily, you say to yourself, 'Put me in -- I want to help,'" Nerger added. "They know what they're doing is so vitally important. They're also growing professionally and learning to do thing things they wouldn't do anywhere else."
The deployed AMC work force, along with the members of the AMC headquarters, will be challenged during the ongoing mission, according to Via.
"We need to do our part at AMC to create and maintain the velocity to get this mission accomplished," he said.
During the visit, Via was reminded of just how critical the AMC mission is.
"The fighting season doesn't end," Via said. "That point was not lost on any of us when the night before we left, the flag was flying at half mast. A young Solder succumbed to his injuries after stepping on an improvised explosive device. It reinforced the importance of our work -- that we can never lose focus on our priority to support the men and women who are deployed in harm's way."