Army medical logisticians modernize units in Japan to support multiple missions

By C.J. LovelaceJuly 26, 2021

Inventorying equipment
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers with the 311th Field Hospital, a unit out of Blacklick, Ohio, inventory equipment for movement from Sagami Army Depot to Yokota Air Force Base for a field hospital during a training exercise in Japan in June. (Photo Credit: Robert Pringle) VIEW ORIGINAL
Preparing tents
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers with the 311th Field Hospital, a unit out of Blacklick, Ohio, prepare tents for movement from Sagami Army Depot to Yokota Air Force Base to setup a field hospital during a training exercise in Japan in June. (Photo Credit: Jude Corpuz) VIEW ORIGINAL

SAGAMI ARMY DEPOT, Japan -- Teams of U.S. Army medical logisticians in June completed a multi-faceted mission that included handing off equipment and supplies in support of a medical training exercise, along with reconfiguring medical materiel to better align health care assets to support the warfighter in forward-deployed environments.

Personnel from the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency and U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity spearheaded the mission, capped off by assisting the 311th Field Hospital’s equipment draw from an Army prepositioned stocks site in Japan, known as APS-4.

The unit set up a 32-bed field hospital to validate readiness and train in preparation for a contingency mission.

Concurrent to the training exercise, completed July 10, USAMMA and USAMMDA teams successfully completed the conversion of a combat support hospital (CSH) maintained at APS-4 to the new hospital center (HC) configuration.

“This was a very heavy mover as you had two missions happening simultaneously,” said Robert Pringle, team lead and accountable property officer for USAMMDA’s Force Sustainment Directorate.

Several years ago, the Army began reconfiguring its 248-bed CSHs to the more modular HC configuration with a 148- to 240-bed capacity to better accommodate health care in an expeditionary setting.

The new design includes up to three additional augmentation detachments, including a 24-bed surgical detachment, 32-bed medical detachment and a 60-bed intermediate care ward detachment. The HC and augmentation detachments all operate under the authority of a headquarters hospital center.

To accomplish both missions, the Medical Logistics Support Team, or MLST, which is comprised of USAMMA and USAMMDA personnel, deployed to Sagami Army Depot in May to begin preparations to ensure seamless execution and support.

“These exercises represent an invaluable training opportunity for units to deploy OCONUS, participate in the APS hand-off process and establish their Role 3 medical capability to be ready to support whatever the contingency is,” USAMMA Commander Col. John “Ryan” Bailey said.

USAMMA is a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command, the Army’s lifecycle manager for medical materiel. USAMMDA is part of Army Medical Research and Development Command. Both commands are headquartered at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Maj. Janessa Moyer, director of USAMMA’s Force Projection Directorate, said the equipment hand-off process completed by the MLST went well, enabling $13 million worth of materiel to be successfully and quickly issued to the 311th, a unit out of Blacklick, Ohio.

Following the exercise, the materiel is then returned to the APS site, where it's inventoried and readied for its next use.

As for the HC conversion, the new configuration enables Role 3 health care delivery capabilities in an adaptable platform that can expand to 240 beds, Moyer said.

A Role 3 hospital is equipped to provide more advanced resuscitative surgery and medical care, as opposed to more basic medical units that are equipped to provide first aid or handle initial triage and resuscitation. This includes specialist diagnostic resources, specialist surgical and medical capabilities, preventive medicine, food inspection, dentistry and more.

Moreover, the HC design was based on lessons learned from over a decade of combat situations, which have reinforced the Army’s need to have forward-based medical capabilities that are advanced yet agile and logistically scalable.

Traditional CSH’s were found to be too large and difficult to deploy as a whole, prompting the Army to often deploy “slices,” or smaller sections of a CSH. The change to the HC format codifies that practice and restructures the process to create a customizable and scalable resource.

Reflecting on the dual mission, team leaders said preparation, communication and teamwork played a major role in effectively and efficiently accomplishing both missions.

Bailey noted that exercises like these are critical to Army medical readiness, ensuring speed, precision and confidence in the deployment of medical materiel to support Soldiers on the ground.

“To save lives, the medical personnel must be confident and proficient in establishing their hospital capabilities quickly,” Bailey said. “USAMMA is always there to make sure the process of issuing the equipment is efficient and the unit has what they need to accomplish their mission. It is a team effort and a no-fail mission.”