“Infantry wins battles, logistics wins wars.” So said U.S. Army General John J. Pershing, commander of American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. Historically and anecdotally, in the parlance of military generals and logisticians, ‘Beans, Bullets and Bandages,’ are what Warfighters need to fight and win.
In the multi-domain battlefields of today and tomorrow, the three B’s that form the Army’s supply priorities include more than the literal food, weapons, and cotton gauzes that have sustained American Warfighters during past wars. A select team with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity – the U.S. Army’s premier medical development command – work each day to field the latest and most advanced medical equipment and treatments available to protect and preserve the lives of America’s Warfighters preparing for tomorrow’s conflicts.
The USAMMDA Materiel Fielding Division team owns the complex, worldwide process of fielding the latest medical equipment and devices. Composed of roughly three dozen Army civilians and contractors, the Fielding Division team members act as ambassadors for USAMMDA while managing 450 or more fieldings annually, providing some $54 million of new medical equipment to Soldiers across the world, according to Rick Bower, the division chief.
“The Materiel Fielding Division is the ‘face’ of USAMMDA. Our liaisons are the first people units interact with face-to-face when it comes to receiving new materiel,” said Bower, a retired Army Medical Logistics Specialist who has been with FSD since 2006. “The project managers and Assembly Management Division do the behind the scenes work for procurement and to build sets, however, my teams are the individuals the units reach out to for support. We have Regional Managers within FSD to establish long-term working relationships with units and they have become the go-to individuals for units when it comes to medical materiel management.”
Medical Materiel, or Class VIII supplies, are designed for medical Roles 1, 2 and 3, the ‘frontline’ echelons of medical aid during military operations. The current and future medical readiness of Army commands, from the Reserve units in rural Georgia to the brigade combat teams of the 82nd Airborne Division are dependent on the logistics planners and materiel management specialists who staff USAMMDA’s fielding team. The internal planning, logistical coordination, and scheduling are arduous and intricate processes handled by the able men and women who work within USAMMDA’s fielding division.
“It takes roughly 6 months from the start of the procurement process to the time sets are built and ready to deliver to a unit,” said Bower. “Once the equipment arrives at the fielding site, the regional manager and contract staff meet the unit on site to conduct joint inventories and complete administrative paperwork. The regional managers and contractors average roughly 200 or more days a year [on the road] conducting fielding operations around the globe.”
While the fielding team is relatively small compared to the wider Army medical development and supply functions, it is vital to the USAMMDA mission – the team reaches across organizations to connect the command’s developers and managers with the end-user units that eventually receive new, updated, or routine shipments to stock their warehouses, according to Sean O’Day, USAMMDA’s director of Program Support.
“The fielding branch is critical to ensure every medical system is effectively and efficiently provided to the force with proper accountability,” said O’Day, a former Army lieutenant colonel who retired in 2005.
“Fielding must align with the funding programmed for development and modernization in order to procure medical systems and equip the force,” said O’Day. “The fielding team is coordinating and scheduling two years out to ensure unit availability and maximize unit readiness.”