By Megan CottonSeptember 26, 2016
Redstone Arsenal, Ala. -- One word could sum up the Army Materiel Command's short tenure at Redstone Arsenal -- busy.
Since moving in to what Gen. Dennis L. Via, AMC commander, notes is the command's first permanent home in the Tennessee Valley, AMC has been involved in every conflict and contingency around the world -- from chemical weapons destruction in Syria, to the fight against the Ebola epidemic in Africa, to the continued deployments in Southwest Asia, and the pivot to the Pacific.
This week, AMC will host a Change of Command ceremony, bidding farewell to the first commander to serve his entire term -- four years -- at Redstone Arsenal.
Via became the 18th commander of AMC in August 2012, during the height of the retrograde of equipment out of Afghanistan. As the former AMC deputy commanding general, Via's experience downrange helped him guide AMC and the Army through the largest military equipment movement since WWII.
"It was a monumental task with unprecedented complexity," he said. "Thirteen years and $30 billion worth of equipment, including vehicles, shipping containers, generators and more, had to be moved from a land-locked and land-constrained environment."
As the drawdown in Afghanistan continued, the impact back home created new challenges for the command with a declining workload for the Army's Organic Industrial Base. These 23 depots, arsenals, and ammunition plants, managed by AMC, reset more than 3.9 million items during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, a workload three-times that of the Vietnam War.
AMC had the task of ensuring the OIB remained ready to quickly react to future conflicts and contingencies, including maintaining critical skillsets that exist only with the artisans in the OIB workforce. To communicate the OIB's strategic significance to the Army, Congress and stakeholders, Via touted it as a "national security readiness insurance policy," explaining the importance of having the OIB ready to respond when needed.
"The OIB builds readiness for our Soldiers and provides critical surge capabilities in support of global contingencies, and ultimately ensures our warfighters have the best equipment possible," he said.
Dedicated to equipping the Soldier, AMC committed early to aligning its assets in support of the geographic Combatant Commands and the Army's Regionally Aligned Forces concept. Through strategic positioning of Army Field Support Brigades, Transportation Brigades and Contracting Brigades, AMC provides agility and flexibility to the six COCOMs.
AMC also continued its management of the regionally-aligned Army Prepositioned Stocks program, and expanded it with development of Activity Sets, prepositioned equipment used for multinational training exercises and operations.
A focal point of that capability is the European Activity Set. The EAS expanded from a battalion-sized set of equipment to a brigade-sized set in 2014, and can be issued in 96 hours for rapid deployment capability.
"Wherever our Army is, AMC is there," Via said. "We are the enabler for the joint force."
A year into Via's command in 2013, AMC reshaped Directorates of Logistics to Logistics Readiness Centers to more accurately reflect the mission and integrate AMC's capabilities at the installation level under one umbrella. LRCs serve as AMC's "Face to the Field" at home station.
"Our LRCs continue to make an enormous impact; they link the national sustainment base while providing technical reach-back to the AMC enterprise," Via said.
That year also saw AMC assume its role as Senior Command of Redstone Arsenal, bringing with it a high level of visibility. Redstone has become a hub for distinguished visitors, attracting top administration and DOD leaders.
Four years did not pass without significant challenges and obstacles, perhaps most notably, the Budget Control Act and sequestration. Via navigated AMC through civilian furloughs, a government shutdown, Army downsizing and personnel cuts, and significant budget cuts.
"Our top priority was -- and still is -- taking care of our Soldiers, civilians and families. We were able to prioritize requirements against the resources allocated to accomplish the mission. We mitigated impacts through natural attrition and management tools," said Via. "I'm immensely proud of the AMC workforce for their resilience and dedication through those turbulent times."
While AMC was faced with no shortage of immediate requirements, Via still looked to posture the command for the future.
He unrolled an Innovation Campaign in 2015 to promote innovative ideas and solutions to strengthen the future of the materiel enterprise. Under the Innovation Campaign, AMC hosted three Army Innovation Summits, bringing together DOD and Army leaders, industry and academia to collaborate.
In early 2016, Via announced a mission command alignment to optimize life cycle sustainment and better support the Chief of Staff of the Army's top priority of readiness. The alignment included two major initiatives: empowering Life Cycle Management Commands to establish and manage priorities and resources and provide portfolio-based readiness; and strengthening the Army Sustainment Command as AMC's single entry point for synchronizing, integrating and prioritizing readiness capabilities across the Army at the installation level.
"The intent is to optimize cradle-to-grave sustainment at a single point, from research and development, acquisition, fielding, upgrades and maintenance, to final disposition," he said.
Via also established several new programs and initiatives focused on the workforce.
The "AMC 1,000" intern initiative launched in 2015, providing 1,000 internships or outreach opportunities across the command each year for five years with the intent of igniting a passion for federal service. An AMC Workforce Renewal Division was created in 2016 to ensure AMC remains a diverse organization with new talent.
"The most important part of a building is the foundation; then as each layer of brick goes on top, it strengthens the building so it can withstand the storms of life," said Via. "We're building the future of AMC from the ground up."
After four years of a high operational tempo, Via said he's confident that AMC will see continued success.
"AMC will continue to provide readiness, and ensure our Army remains the best-equipped fighting force in the world," he said.