REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- A holistic view of people and equipment. That's what the Army's Materiel Enterprise philosophy is all about.

And it's what can make the difference for a Soldier serving in an uptempo Army in the midst of battle.

Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commander of the Army Materiel Command, introduced AMC's perspective of Materiel Enterprise to logistics employees who nearly filled the Bob Jones Auditorium on April 26, during the Worldwide Logistics Training Workshop. She is the first four-star general to speak at the annual conference, which is hosted annually by AMC's Logistics Support Activity. This year's conference theme was "Leveraging Logistics within the Materiel Enterprise."

"You do a lot of heavy lifting for the Army," Dunwoody told the logisticians in her audience. "The uptempo is incredible. The challenges are demanding. We need to be able to touch the tactical, operational and strategic through materiel enterprise."

"I see our challenges as opportunities. It's hard, and there's a lot of wringing of hands and rolling up sleeves. But the next couple of years will be even more challenging. We need the best and the brightest at work for us. And in everything, our number one priority is supporting the warfighter ... Going to war is never business as usual."

Materiel Enterprise brings together all the organizations and employees involved in providing materiel solutions for Soldiers, incorporating all materiel life cycle functions to include research, development, acquisition, testing, distribution, supply, maintenance, industrial base operations and disposal.

The goal is to provide Army leadership with information and analysis to enable them to make sound decisions in regard to sustaining equipment readiness, and in providing faster, more agile and more comprehensive equipment solutions for the Soldier in the field.

The management philosophy, which requires communication, cooperation and collaboration across several different AMC organizations, is meant to achieve transparency across AMC in regard to its people, processes, capabilities and components. Achieving that goal can be more difficult when change is involved, Dunwoody said.

"We are fundamentally changing the way we deploy forces. We have to adapt as an institution," she said. "We must change the way we equip, sustain and maintain forces."

The Army is working to rebalance its mission and resources so that concerns regarding both equipment and people can be addressed.

"It's not all about money. It's also about the human dimension," Dunwoody said. "I think we do have the very best equipped Army in the world. But how can we do things more efficiently so that we free up resources' We need to free up resources while still equipping, maintaining and manning this incredible Army."

To emphasize her remarks, Dunwoody provided her audience with a snapshot of AMC, an organization that provides equipment from "research to disposal, from concept to combat." It is a $57 billion Army organization, with $97 billion in contracts and more than 67,000 military and civilian employees. It is spread over 49 states and 127 countries.

Within that organization, LOGSA provides support in the movement of equipment and supplies needed by Soldiers. With the drawdown in Iraq, LOGSA will be involved with 240,000 truckloads and 119 shiploads of equipment, 34,000 short tons of ammunition, 618 aircraft, 134,000 contracts and 139,000 military personnel, contractors and civilians. More than 50 U.S. brigade combat equivalents will have to be moved.

Much of this equipment will be shifted to the war effort in Afghanistan, where only two percent of roads are paved, the land area is much larger than in Iraq, and much of the country is between 2,000 and 10,000 feet of elevation with some mountains reaching 24,000 feet.

"This is a monumental undertaking," Dunwoody said. "We are going from the mobility of Iraq to the lack of mobility in Afghanistan due to mountains and the lack of a road network.

"There will be a lot of air drops. The challenges that we have impact how we deliver and how we distribute. As logisticians we have to understand the environment we're working in."

That environment reaches beyond Afghanistan to include countries such as Haiti and Chile, where national disasters require the aid of U.S. military.

Since the war in Iraq began, there have been 1.5 million pieces of equipment reset and returned to the fight, a number that is three times higher than in Vietnam.

"The depots are working at three times the level of Vietnam to get things back into the fight," Dunwoody said.

AMC is working with ASA(ALT) - Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology - "to get arms around materiel enterprise," she said. "All of us have a piece of equipping our Army."

While purchasing equipment can be costly, she said that 60 to 75 percent of equipment costs are actually in distributing, maintaining, sustaining and disposal of that equipment. Because of the need for quick response to the nation's recent war threats, more than 900,000 individual items used by the Army are not fully accounted for.

"How do we get our arms around what we have out there so we can make prudent decisions of whether a piece of equipment should be put on the property book or whether it is unique to a particular environment or whether it should be disposed of' If we can't see what happens to this equipment, then we will buy it again to fill a need," Dunwoody said.

"But we don't have the money to do that. We need to invest in our future, not buy for our past."

For example, there are now 24 variants of the Army's MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). The Army must decide which of those variants should be sustained for the future, disposed of or sold to allied nations.

"We have lots of opportunities to look at what we have and make the best decision how to use it in the future," she said. "But we can't afford to reset stuff we're not going to use in the future.

"We've got to get our arms around this and make prudent decisions on how to invest based on the economy of the nation and the tactical operations of its combat forces. Each and every one of you has a role in this and can make a difference."