WASHINGTON - The Army Sustainment Command's new exhibit at the Association of the United States Army's annual gathering in the nation's capital was an instant hit with attendees Oct. 5-7.

"Whoever thought of that was one smart person," said a passerby who participated in the portal interaction.

That person was actually a handful of ASC personnel looking for ways to draw people to the booth to enable the command's mission to be told. By policy, the Army cannot give out "gifts" like other commercial industry organizations which have proven themselves to be popular with attendees. ASC was part of the overall display effort presented by the Army Materiel Command that conveyed the concept of "Materiel Enterprise."

It is one of the Army's four core enterprises and is responsible for the materiel management from concept to combat, according to Army doctrine. The Army Materiel Command is partnering with the Office of the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology to adopt an enterprise approach - communication, cooperation, and collaboration.

This enterprise serves to deliver and sustain equipment readiness. It also works with the other three core enterprises to synchronize with them to protect Soldier dwell time and help preserve the all-volunteer force.

This was tied into the Army's theme for 2009 Year of the NCO. This year, AUSA presented a dual-edge theme - America's Army: The Strength of the Nation and Noncommissioned Officers: The Strength of the Army.

"The support is here," said Anita Thompson, AMC's marketing manager with the Public and Congressional Affairs office.

"We have four-star, three-star [generals], congressional members" visiting the AMC booth area. "I am impressed with the interest."

Thompson said working at the AMC level is like working for corporate America and much is expected by stakeholders.

"We're generating information," she said of the different sub-command booths comprising the AMC exhibit. "People want to know about the MRAP [Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle] in the field," she said of one Soldier's mother.

Exhibit gatherings like this allow AMC to show customers that it is meeting their needs, she said. "They're always improving the food, vehicles and equipment."

The ASC portal, which some attendees said reminded them of the portal from the movie and television series Stargate, is a video portal comprised of eight plasma screens that displayed photographs of the ASC mission conducted around the world. Vignettes with narration lasting from 10-20 seconds informed the participant on a particular subject, complemented by matching photos dissolving into one another throughout the presentation.

The creation of the portal and exhibit was contracted to a company in Roselle, N.J.

"Overall, the people are more interested in this display than anything else" compared to other products offered by us, said Sgt. 1st Class Duane Dark, an ASC Soldier who served as a command subject matter expert. "It's an attention-getter."

Dark said this was the second time he has had the opportunity to serve as an SME at AUSA. The previous time was with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

"This is a lot fancier exhibit by a long shot," he said.

As attendees walk by the portal, they see a big blue, oceanic screen. Upon inquiring, they are asked to place their right hand in a device that activates the portal to show one of 18 vignettes on mission-related subjects such as Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, Field-Level Reset, Retrograde, and Army Pre-positioned Stocks to name several.

But it's not just a visual display, as various thunderous sounds emerge from speakers including a subwoofer creating a very real lifelike scenario.

"I've had people really interested in the Reset program," Dark said

The other ASC SME, Master Sgt. Alton Lewis, said this was the first time he attended AUSA.

"I am very impressed. I would definitely recommend this to any Soldier," Lewis said.

Lewis said the portal display was the attention-drawer to the ASC booth. Upon participating in the interaction of vignettes, Lewis said most attendees were receptive to the ASC products - a new command video, brochure and command newsletter, The Global Line.

"This [the portal] gives us the ability to show people what we bring to the fight," Lewis said.

The AUSA meeting in Washington, D.C., is the largest landpower exposition and professional development forum in North America.

Records show about 30,000 people attend, including senior leaders from the Army, Defense Department, Congressional personnel, as well as foreign dignitaries.

The event allows the Army to present key messages regarding strategy to its own personnel and the general public.

AMC is a four-star command, comprised of 11 subordinate commands, and is one of the largest commands in the Army with 66,000 personnel in 149 locations worldwide, including 47 states and 50 countries. It provides materiel readiness - technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment - to ensure dominant landforce capability. It is headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va.

ASC is a two-star command headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., specializing in sustainment.