A quote from former Chief of Staff of the Army Eric Ken Shinseki reads, “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.” The quote has become a mantra among the Army medical logistics (MEDLOG) community, especially for Army Civilians, who agree that the changes we have experienced in the last few years are unlike anything we’ve seen in our careers.
Since the creation of Army Medical Logistics Command (AMLC) in 2019, the command has maneuvered through multiple organizational restructurings while simultaneously reshaping itself from the inside to meet its demands as the Army’s new life cycle management command for medical materiel.
Adding to this unprecedented transformation, the mission of medical logistics never stops. New and complex missions such as the Afghanistan evacuation, European operations, and a global pandemic have only ramped up requirements. Indeed, there is little time to pause and reflect.
This article codifies our collective views on the evolution of MEDLOG and drives future changes that will only improve our ability to deliver effects on the battlefield.
Recentering Our Core
AMLC includes a headquarters that provides mission command over three direct reporting units: the Army Medical Materiel Agency, Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe, and Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea.
The AMLC enterprise includes fewer than 1,000 people, most of whom are Army Civilians, local nationals, or contractors. Civilian leadership within each organization serves as a steadying force that provides continuity and communicates the command’s purpose to sustain operational health care through campaigning, competition, and conflict.
However, it is not enough to only see ourselves. We must look hard at our internal processes and procedures to streamline unnecessary complexities, even if they are how things have always been done.
We must scrutinize unique medical policies and regulations and question how to better align Class VIII with the rest of the sustainment procedures and practices. Instead of describing what we do, we must understand why we are here. If we perform functions not in our mission set, we must divest those activities and reinvest our energies in our core purpose.
AMLC gets after a big part of this with its MEDLOG in Campaigning effort, which focuses on posturing the Army to be medically ready to transition quickly from peacetime in a home station environment to an active operational environment. Essentially, this is about training as we fight.
This effort seeks to develop support frameworks for Class VIIIA distribution, materiel management, maintenance, and information technology system integration to work within the Army’s enterprise business system.
Each of us served as Soldiers before our Army Civilian careers. We have all seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of medical materiel support, including the never-ending complexities of using tactical systems for ordering medical supplies. We understand the gaps in medical materiel support and the importance of getting it right.
We must codify our medical maintenance support roles and responsibilities to the operational force prior to competition. We must continue to define our responsibility at the sustainment enterprise level versus the unit’s responsibility for maintenance.
Developing a standardized joint catalog is a critical next step for materiel management. It will ensure Army Medical Enterprise sets, kits, and outfits are consistently procurable and predictable and deliver cost-effective materiel readiness to meet the Army’s warfighting requirements.
Predictive Medical Logistics
As the primary agent for global MEDLOG, AMLC must continue providing direction and oversight to the entire MEDLOG enterprise, synchronizing operational capabilities in support of combatant commanders.
Army Civilians support this change through multiple touchpoints. They must provide honest dialogue and accuracy in reporting to keep leadership in the know about what’s happening now on the ground and what’s coming down the road.
We do this through the AMLC’s Integrated Logistics Support Center, which includes a Logistics Assistance Program (LAP) that oversees a global network of personnel and resources designed to facilitate self-sustaining readiness at the unit level, leveraging installation logistics capabilities and elevating logistics issues exceeding unit or organic resources to the appropriate AMLC capability.
The program works in tandem with AMLC’s worldwide medical maintenance delivery platforms, including medical materiel centers and medical maintenance operations divisions.
While still in development, the LAP will ultimately improve and sustain materiel readiness, resolve logistic problems, provide readiness and training oversight, and analyze trends and operations.
As the designated Theater Lead Agents for Medical Materiel, AMLC’s medical materiel centers in Europe and Korea must continue forging relationships with key partners, such as the Defense Health Agency (DHA), to manage demand for limited medical supplies.
While AMLC’s focus is operational health care and DHA’s focus is medical treatment facilities, these health care missions remain interlinked because of the vendor-dependent supply chain. Distribution decisions are critical when availability is scarce, and the military health care system must take care not to compete against itself.
AMLC must continue reducing its reliance on just-in-time deliveries of supplies because, frankly, they might not arrive in time. Instead, AMLC will continue cultivating readiness drivers that better forecast demand planning, requirements determination, and distribution to maximum readiness.
Any significant change must outlive its architects. This is one of the many reasons civilians are essential the Army team. They provide continuity and longevity within the enterprise, becoming the enduring agents of change.
Many changes have already produced positive outcomes that move us toward a better way forward. We believe one of the most beneficial changes within Army medicine has been the realignment of MEDLOG under the sustainment enterprise of the Army Materiel Command.
This transition prompted the community to take a hard look at its current processes and procedures, moving away from medical policies and regulations to something on which we are now the leading voice — Army sustainment procedures and practices.
MEDLOG leaders revise our processes and procedures with the intent to reduce and eliminate sustainment issues within the enterprise. This new relationship has brought us to the table of the acquisition process and ensured medical devices and other materiel fielded to the force have the necessary support from a sustainment perspective throughout their expected life cycle.
At the same time, it’s important we continue monitoring and tracking ongoing health care delivery practices and requirements that also drive MEDLOG requirements. AMLC’s evolution will continue to take vision, courage, and a desire to be relevant, even to the point of moving away from ingrained MEDLOG principles to meet current and future operational needs.
As Army Civilian leaders within this great organization, we are ready to lead the way.
Terrance “Evan” Alligood serves as chief of the Medical Materiel Sourcing Division at the Army Medical Materiel Agency, a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command. He served nearly 21 years on active duty before joining Army Medical Materiel Agency in 2012, first as a contractor and then as a civilian. His military training achievements include the Primary Leadership Development Course Distinguished Leadership Award, Expert Field Medical Badge, Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course, Senior Leadership Course, and the former Medical Logistics Management Internship Program.
Reginald “Reggie” Burrus serves as deputy director for operations for the Logistics Assistance Program at Army Medical Logistics Command’s Integrated Logistics Support Center. He is a retired chief warrant officer 4, having served 28 years on active duty. Burrus holds a Master of Science in emergency and disaster management from Trident University, California, and is a certified health care technology manager through the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation.
Shawn D. Hardiek is a retired master sergeant (combat medic specialist) currently serving as chief of plans and operations at the Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea. He has 25 years of experience supporting multiple echelons throughout the continuum of medical and materiel functions, both in tactical and clinical settings.
Jamen Woodstock is the current accountability officer for the Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe. He served nine years as an Army Medical Service Corps officer in numerous medical operations and logistics leadership positions.
This content is published online in conjunction with the Summer 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.