PIRMASENS, Germany -- As the battle against COVID-19 across Europe continues to rage, Soldiers at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe (USAMMC-E) have been working in overdrive to achieve their medical support mission.
Col. Jonathan Butler, commander at USAMMC-E, said support for the COVID-19 response effort continues to be the primary focus for his Soldiers and staff, acknowledging that requests for supplies, like personal protective equipment (PPE), have only increased in their areas of operation.
“We have expanded our operations to 24/7, including warehousing in order to provide a more responsive supply to our customers,” Butler said.
As the theater lead agent for medical materiel, USAMMC-E has ramped up operations as it ships equipment and supplies all over Europe, Africa and the Middle East to protect against and fight the spread of COVID-19.
“It is basically our normal mission, but on steroids,” said Brian Swiss, chief of staff at USAMMC-E, noting that PPE, such as gloves, masks and gowns, continue to be in the highest demand.
“Our primary focus is to provide Class VIII medical support quickly and efficiently to three combatant commands in support in response to COVID-19,” he said.
A global pandemic, COVID-19 cases are nearing 824,000 with over 40,000 deaths around the world, as of March 31. A large number of those cases and deaths have been recorded in Europe, including Italy and Spain, where death tolls continue to mount.
To keep pace with increased demand for PPE, Soldiers are essentially working around the clock. More than 25 Soldiers from other units and commands, including the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and 7th Mission Support Command, integrated to supplement USAMMC-E’s workforce.
Soldiers have been working in receiving, distribution, transportation and other areas -- “everywhere and fully integrated” with local nationals and contract staff assigned to USAMMC-E, Swiss said.
“We needed to open a new warehouse for the bulk PPE we are sending out,” he said. “We moved to seven-day-a-week operations.”
Additionally, USAMMC-E has established a 24/7 Command Information and Operations Center to coordinate the multitude of tasks, orders and additional manpower.
Along with its support mission, the center in Pirmasens, Germany, has heightened its installation protections against the coronavirus, deploying Soldiers to deep clean facilities and screen employees at gates. A team also has been helping trace the movements of people who may have been exposed to an infected individual.
“I am proud of the staff for their dedication and I continue to be amazed by the support we have received,” Butler said, specifically recognizing Maj. Gen. Christopher Mohan, commanding general of the 21st TSC, who serves as the senior officer responsible for the region.
Butler also thanked his counterpart at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea, Commander Lt. Col. Marc Welde, and his team for providing lessons learned and assisting with sourcing and shipment of critically needed supplies to meet mission requirements.
Both centers are direct reporting units to U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command, headquartered at Fort Detrick, Maryland. AMLC is a major subordinate under Army Materiel Command.
Like USAMMC-E, the center in South Korea also took aggressive steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus and increase distribution efforts of PPE. As new cases have slowed, USAMMC-K has shifted some of its resources to its sister operation in Europe.
“I could not be prouder of our teamwork in support of the fight against COVID-19,” AMLC Commander Col. Michael Lalor said. “The AMLC team is in constant communication and cross-talking daily to improve our processes that will sustain us in this fight and future fights ahead.”