Ensuring Army equipment readiness
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. (Dec. 10, 2014) -- The Army Sustainment Command's (ASC's) Distribution Management Center (DMC) is a brigade-level command that serves as the materiel management and distribution integrator for Army commands, Army service component commands, and corps.

The DMC is essential to building and sustaining Army equipment readiness. It has become the Army's materiel management center, synchronizing equipment from multiple sources and multiple managers and including all parties in the Army's equipping strategy. This effort is key to enhancing readiness for the Army of 2025.

The DMC provides materiel readiness and management by equipping the force, providing supply management and oversight for logistics readiness center (LRC) supply support activities, and assessing workload and maintenance capabilities at the ASCs supporting LRCs. The DMC also synchronizes strategic-level mobility support by coordinating efforts between the LRC installation transportation offices and the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

As the operational arm of the Army Materiel Command (AMC), ASC provides AMC capabilities to the force, both at home and abroad. Working with the Army field support brigades and LRCs, the DMC provides an end-to-end capability to deliver equipment from the national industrial base to tactical units located across the globe.

By bringing materiel management back to the Army, the DMC is responsible for enabling Army readiness. This is done by leveraging and synchronizing materiel managers across the Army, allowing the DMC to take the lead in reshaping and modernizing the force.

LEAD MATERIEL INTEGRATOR

The Secretary of the Army designated AMC as the lead materiel integrator (LMI) in March 2011, and ASC assumed the role of synchronizing and integrating Army equipment according to Army priorities and directives. ASC serves as the executing agent for the LMI and is the Army's primary synchronization point. As such, ASC ensures the right materiel is provided in the right quantity and condition and delivered to the right place at the right time.

Redistribution across commands allows excess equipment to be matched with identified shortages, which promotes enterprise-level readiness and reduces the need to procure items already in the inventory. LMI analysis can determine when the Army has neither current shortages nor projected future shortages of a given piece of equipment.

In such situations, DMC directs responsible divestiture of excess equipment, removing it from inventory and reducing the storage and maintenance requirements for equipment that is no longer needed. A common thread in all LMI practices is the opening of communication channels among stakeholders.

BALANCING THE FORCE

The focus on synergy among Army commands, program managers, and the Army G-3 and G-8 promotes optimal decision-making and the agility to adjust to emerging requirements. The LMI balances the force based on present requirements and authorizations and can analyze future production schedules and authorizations.

The capability to gain insight on future readiness for a given unit or piece of equipment allows managers to influence a long-term strategy. The DMC can accurately identify excess and fill requirements in a fiscally constrained environment. This allows the Army to adjust its procurements, reset, and redistribution, which reduces duplication and underutilization of assets in the inventory.

In the past, legacy processes relied on commands to balance themselves by requisitioning for shortages and disposing of excess equipment on their own. The LMI uses data from the Logistics Support Activity's Logistics Information Warehouse to gain enterprise-level visibility of materiel.

The Logistics Information Warehouse uses the LMI Decision Support Tool to pull data, including unit equipment authorizations (current and future) and quantities on hand. This enables ASC's materiel and unit integrators to work with program managers, life cycle management commands, and higher headquarters to perform readiness analysis and propose sourcing decisions. The DMC proposes sourcing for distribution of new procurement and depot stocks and for redistribution of command-identified excess.

ORGANIZATIONAL-LEVEL READINESS

One way the DMC enhances readiness through the LMI is at the organizational level. The modernization effort for the Eighth Army in Korea is an excellent example of the power that the LMI can bring to bear.

The DMC enhanced readiness on the Korean Peninsula, improving equipment on hand by more than 10 percent in fiscal year 2012. This mission also supported efforts to modernize the entire 2nd Infantry Division and source the attack reconnaissance squadron in Korea.

ENHANCING INSTALLATION READINESS

The DMC can also enhance readiness at the installation level. One example of this occurred at Fort Hood, Texas, where the DMC identified potential readiness increases across the installation. The DMC's recommendations for materiel redistribution across commands on the installation resulted in a readiness increase of 2.9 percent and a greater than 5 percent increase in equipment fill within one division--all without incurring second-destination transportation costs.

ENSURING VISIBILITY AND READINESS

The DMC's holistic view of the Army's materiel inventory allows for effective redistribution of equipment. Whether it is moving equipment from the theater of operations back to depots or across commands to reduce excess and fill shortages, the DMC analyzes alternatives and directs redistribution to ensure strategic readiness and minimize shipping and storage costs.

The DMC also directs and redistributes equipment in response to the reorganization and modernization of the Army Pre-positioned Stocks Program. This modernization will allow our forces to operate with strategic flexibility and depth.

END OF LIFE CYCLE MANAGEMENT

The Army is executing several concurrent operations to divest itself of equipment that is in excess of future force requirements, reorganize brigade combat teams, and modernize our forces to regain balance and drive readiness to support the Army's missions. Supporting this effort, the DMC identifies Army surplus for reutilization, divestiture, potential use as excess defense articles in support of foreign military sales, and disposal.

Today, the significant events in the materiel management process are nested in the G-8's Army equipping strategy. This approach incorporates a sequential method to enable the Army to meet the equipping goal of achieving balance. (See figure 1.)

As the DMC's mission evolves, the sequencing of distribution, redistribution, and divestiture of equipment will lead to a number of efficiencies. These include increased predictability in tracking on-hand equipment, greater ease of adjusting to emerging requirements, and increased accountability.

The DMC's sequenced approach to materiel management will lead to increased efficiency as key decisions and actions are executed concurrently. First, as the Army provides its quarterly materiel allocations, DMC representatives will engage life cycle management commands and Army commands, directing distributions to units based on priority. Next, commands will balance themselves internally, identifying excesses and shortages and directing the transfer of materiel among units.

Once command shortages and excesses are identified, ASC will coordinate an intercommand redistribution effort. Then the DMC will direct the transfer of materiel across commands and the divestiture of enterprise-level excess. To ensure that Army meets readiness goals, materiel management forums are in place throughout the equipping strategy.

The DMC's approach to materiel management by line item number, unit, command, and across commands provides the Army the visibility to see itself. This visibility establishes the environment to create balance in the force and continues to build and sustain Army readiness.

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Col. William Krahling is the commander of the Distribution Management Center at the Army Sustainment Command at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. He holds a bachelor's degree in communications from St. Cloud State University and a master's degree in strategic studies from the Army War College.

Matthew Meenan is a logistics management specialist at the Distribution Management Center, Army Sustainment Command. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Iowa and an MBA from St. Ambrose University. He is level III certified in life cycle logistics.

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This article was published in the November-December 2014 issue of Army Sustainment magazine.

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