The medical logistics force structure, along with its accompanying information technology and business processes, has been separate from the broader Army sustainment community since the conclusion of the Vietnam conflict. The separation of these two logistics systems results in diminished economies of scale pertaining to many logistical concepts such as transportation, maintenance, and stock management, thus diminishing interoperability between the Army sustainer and the Army customer. Subsuming the comparably small medical logistics force structure into the broader Army sustainment community would assist in developing a single-team logistical structure that is more efficient and better positioned to support the Army at war.
Since the Army Medical Logistics Command activated under the Army Materiel Command in 2019, medical technology management has realized significant advances by adopting the Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army) and its accompanying best business processes. This adoption of Army sustainment systems and processes has rectified many long-standing and systemic gaps associated with medical equipment maintenance and property accountability within the medical logistics system. However, this advancement in capability revealed new gaps. Most notably, the enterprise nature of a modern logistics environment, now realized by the Army, requires the full integration of all skillsets, such as automated logistics, supply management, and property accountability in the proper numbers and with adequate oversight to optimize the medical logistics operation, a benefit not provided to many medical logisticians located throughout the Army’s force structure.
Overall, the medical logistics force structure consists of the medical logistics company (MLC) and the brigade medical supply office (BMSO). The BMSO is assigned to a brigade combat team’s (BCT’s) brigade support battalion’s (BSB’s) medical company, affectionately named Charlie Med. Depending on the makeup of the BCT, one Biomedical Equipment Specialist (military occupational specialty (MOS) 68A) and two to three Medical Logistics Specialists (MOS 68J) are assigned to this office. Currently, a single junior enlisted 68A is expected to manage the BCT’s medical maintenance operation from the Charlie Med’s BMSO without the management and command oversight enjoyed by his maintenance peers. Relocating this single 68A to the maintenance section of the BSB, along with generating a shop within the BSB’s maintenance activity, would enhance this Soldier’s capabilities as a technician, maintenance leader, and sustainer by enabling the full functionality of medical maintenance production control throughout the entire BCT. Moreover, relocating the 68J to the BSB’s supply support activity to leverage existing stock control functions found within GCSS-Army, coupled with cultivating medical materiel requirements within the Federal Logistics Information System, would allow the medical supply system to manage medical stock integration with the medical customer’s automated requirements. A capability presently unrealized within the current medical supply system.
The concept of subsuming the logistics functions housed within the BMSO into the BSB’s logistical infrastructure could be applied to echelons above the brigade by subsuming the MLC into the theater sustainment command (TSC) and the expeditionary sustainment command (ESC). The MLC is staffed with MOSs 68J, 68A, and a 68Q Pharmacy Specialist, along with authorized standard support equipment, such as refrigeration or vault management, to facilitate supply and maintenance management functions. Subsuming the MLC’s capabilities into the TSC or ESC would capitalize on many logistics enablers, such as transportation and stock management integration, as described by subsuming the BMSO into the BSB. Moreover, the medical equipment maintenance community would benefit from integrating with other maintenance enablers such as electronics, welding, additive manufacturing, machining, and automated logistics capabilities offered by these robust logistics commands.
As the Army refocuses its efforts to a division-centric model to address a large-scale combat operation, leveraging more resilient logistics capabilities within the larger Army sustainment community would provide a greater reach to the Army medical customer. This reach would provide a more efficient and expedited projection of logistical capability since the combatant commander would have the ability to leverage a single logistics construct integrated under his direct command instead of the current parallel system that is separate and detached from the broader Army logistics infrastructure.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kevin O’Reilly currently serves as the brigade maintenance officer for the 65th Medical Brigade. He deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division, 44th Medical Brigade, and 1st Medical Brigade. He served as the chief of the Equipment Management Branch at the Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center at Fort Meade, Maryland, and in Landstuhl, Germany. He holds a master’s in data analytics and a doctorate in business from the University of the Incarnate Word.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dae Kim currently serves as the property book officer for the 65th Medical Brigade. He has deployed to the United Arab Emirates with the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and to Iraq with the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command and the 10th Mountain Division. He holds a master’s in business administration from Fayetteville State University, North Carolina.
This article was published in the Summer 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.