Redstone Arsenal, Ala. -- Gen. Ann Dunwoody is beginning the year with a strong sense of pride.

As she reviews the accomplishments of the Army Materiel Command and its 69,000 employees, as she thinks about the demands put on the organization during its support of ten years of war and the massive move of its headquarters to Redstone Arsenal, as she discusses how the command will stay effective in the wake of budget cuts, Dunwoody knows that AMC has already been tested and proven itself more than worthy to meet the demands of a changing Army.

"When I reflect on the past decade, our incredible work force has supported war on two fronts and military or humanitarian actions in places like Haiti, Pakistan and Japan. In addition, we've moved 11,000 people under BRAC (2005 Base Realignment and Closure). What this organization was able to accomplish gives me great optimism that we will be able to face the next decade with great energy," Dunwoody said during a New Year's interview in her office.

Like many who have planned, prepared, strategized and invested in the nation's military success in theater, Dunwoody watched video and news reports with much interest of the flag-lowering ceremony at Iraq's Baghdad International Airport, where Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top commander of U.S. military in Iraq, declared the war in Iraq as officially over, Dec. 15.

"When I watched the small ceremony, I had a sense of pride. I am very proud knowing this organization's contribution to this historical moment," Dunwoody said.

"There were over 120,000 deployed military civilians and contractors at the high water point to help facilitate this. It's a great sense of pride that I feel about our entire work force."

Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan have all influenced the way today's Army functions and operates, from the private in training for an in-theater deployment to the general officer working at the strategic level to protect democracy and freedom as well as U.S. interests around the world.

"There's been a tremendous impact that this war has had on the Army," Dunwoody said. "Because of the war, we've built an operational capability within AMC since 9/11. Our arsenals and depots are connected, our field support brigades, contract support, everything is connected to facilitate supplies and equipment going in and out of theater."

Best logistical support

Yet, Dunwoody knows that with the end of the war in Iraq, the military will become a target for cutbacks that could run deep.

"For ten years, Congress has provided supplemental money that allows for growth in supplemental operations," she said. "There will be some kind of peace dividend that will affect the military, even though we are still in Afghanistan. There will be much smaller requirements and resources will be more restrained. For AMC, the kind of organization that we've built at Redstone allows us to expand and contract with Army mission requirements."

Dunwoody's comments were made during an interview scheduled to coincide with the first issue of the Redstone Rocket in 2012. The interview was planned to focus specifically on her thoughts concerning the present and future of the Army Materiel Command and to officially introduce AMC's husband-wife command team of Dunwoody and Craig Brotchie, a retired Air Force colonel, to the Redstone work force. But she was also willing to go off topic to discuss the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The main message of the interview, though, is one that this 58-year-old commander has expressed in several public presentations and press conferences -- the Army Materiel Command provides the best logistical support to the war fighter in providing the highest quality in equipment and supplies from a work force dedicated and committed to the Army mission and its Soldiers.

"Where Soldiers are, AMC has a presence. I'm sure you've heard the saying -- if a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, communicates with it or eats it, AMC provides it," Dunwoody said. "We have tremendous capabilities in this organization. We use leading edge science and technology to give our men and women in uniform the greatest capability. This is an organization that touches a Soldier in every way."

AMC has a reputation for sustaining the strength of the nation by providing war fighters the equipment and supplies needed to have a decisive edge on the battlefield. This global command, with operations in all 50 states and 145 countries, depends on a work force made up of 97 percent civilians, making it the employer of more than one-fourth of all Department of the Army civilians and the largest Department of Defense employer of civilians. Those civilians take an oath of service similar to the creed Soldiers must take. Both are displayed prominently alongside each other at the entrance to the AMC headquarters.

"The American public can be assured that our civilian work force working at the depots, the arsenals, the ammunition plants and all across AMC is as dedicated as the Soldiers. When I see the civilian work force at work I see men and women as dedicated as those in the foxhole," Dunwoody said.

"I am proud of how they make a difference in saving lives and supporting our young men and women in uniform. … Each understands the importance of what they do to help meet the mission."

While DoD civilians have always been thought of as the continuity and stability behind the armed forces, they have also built a reputation during the past 10 years as innovators, adaptors and leaders of institutional change. With such a large civilian force, AMC is well positioned as a champion for the Army Civilian Corps.

2012 challenges

One of the challenges ringing in with 2012 involves further transitioning, supporting and eventually bringing an end to the war in Afghanistan, which is a much different environment than Iraq.

"It is a land-locked country with only 2 percent of its roads paved and with mountain terrain reaching more than 20,000 feet. For a logistician, it is a Ph.D. level exercise to get people and equipment out after a decade of war," Dunwoody said.

The Army Materiel Command's Responsible Reset Task Force was the lead on the historic drawdown that allowed the Army to ship from Iraq 50 percent of the equipment needed in the Afghanistan surge. The task force is also managing and reassigning tons of equipment through Kuwait, as AMC oversees the Iraq equipment drawdown and reset that can be compared in size to closing down the city of Annapolis, Md., 2 and 1/2 times. Just the number of trucks involved in the drawdown could stretch in a single convoy from El Paso, Texas, to Washington, D.C., and the number of containers would rise 51 miles high -- nine times the height of Mount Everest -- if they were stacked atop each other.

In addition, AMC continues to provide support to Army field support brigades and combat support brigades in Afghanistan.

The other major challenge of 2012 and beyond is managing a sharp decline in budget resources.

"We don't want a hollow Army, a Task Force Smith situation (a reference to the first Army ground maneuver unit that entered combat with North Korea without an adequate level of equipment or training to win the mission). We don't want men and women not trained, equipped, ready or prepared to do the nation's bidding," Dunwoody said.

The year will also bring the implementation of the command's Bold Ideas campaign, where employees are encouraged to submit ideas that will lead to more efficiency and effectiveness.

"Good ideas have no rank," the general said.

Welcome to Huntsville

Dunwoody became the Army's first female four-star in November 2008 during a Pentagon ceremony where she also took command of the Army Materiel Command. Prior to that, she served as AMC's deputy commander. During the first two years as AMC's commander, Dunwoody not only oversaw the organization's operations but also prepared its work force for a historical move to Redstone Arsenal.

"It's been a long journey of six years," she said. "We consolidated 31 facilities at this installation, and we are now occupying this building as one organization.

"We took the opportunity with this move to transform the headquarters for the 21st century. We shaped ourselves for the next decade and for the future. Redstone Arsenal is now the center of gravity for AMC. … About one-third of the leadership of AMC is located here at Redstone. Other tenants here make Redstone a center of gravity for science, technology and engineering, and that compliments what we do in research and development. There's a lot of synergy here."

The Army Materiel Command was welcomed to Redstone Arsenal by one of its 11 subordinate major commands -- the Aviation and Missile Command -- and one of its separate reporting agencies -- the Logistics Support Activity. Joining the center of gravity has been two other subordinate major commands -- the Security Assistance Command and the Army Contracting Command/Expeditionary Contracting Command. In addition, the command benefits from an Arsenal neighborhood that includes the Redstone Test Center, program executive offices for aviation, and missiles and space, and the Space and Missile Defense Command, among others.

As an added benefit, the Army Materiel Command has felt the love and support of the Huntsville/Madison County/Tennessee Valley community, all the way from community representatives from the Tennessee Valley BRAC Committee "selling" the command's employees on a move to Huntsville to the Chamber of Commerce recently sponsoring a Hail to AMC luncheon event.

"From day one, this community and its leaders have reached out to us. They've asked us how they can help. They've made us feel welcome," Dunwoody said. "The impact of AMC on this installation and the community is now just beginning. All senior leadership in the military will visit here. This move has brought global visibility to Redstone Arsenal."

Upcoming in the early days of 2012 will be the annual Sergeants Major of the Army conference, held at Redstone, and a visit from the Army's chief of staff.

Brotchie, who is retired from the Air Force and has had a career in private industry, has been a relatively silent partner in the move from Virginia to Alabama, working behind the scenes to support his wife of 22 years. But he has definitely taken note of the Southern hospitality that has defined their move.

"I hear the things she's involved with all the time," he said. "I have seen how this community has welcomed this organization at such events as Hail to AMC.

"Besides bringing its headquarters here, AMC is also bringing other activities of national significance to Redstone and Huntsville. There's a spill-over benefit with the Sergeants Major of the Army annual event and other major events coming here. Those things don't happen by accident."

Dual-military career couple
The couple met while students at the Command and General Staff College. They became a joint command team at Fort Bragg, N.C., where they married. During the first 10 years of their marriage, the couple continued their individual military careers. Often stationed apart, they kept their relationship going through daily phone calls, and at least one weekend together nearly every month.

"Neither one of us was going to decline a command opportunity to stay in one household," Brotchie said. "We were both very successful in our respectfive careers and we didn't want to have to compromise. We didn't want to have any regrets."

Dunwoody added: "The first 10 years of our marriage, we were apart five. But we talked every day. He loved the Air Force. I loved the Army. We loved each other and we made it work. The sacrifices associated with it are not easy, and it's not for everybody."

But the two came from similar backgrounds and they worked for organizations that shared the same values.

"We live those values. We understand the work ethos," Brotchie said. "Everybody has to do it their own way. Some people don't believe enough in their relationship, or they don't have enough confidence or great trust to make it work when they are apart. That is a non-starter."

In 2000, Dunwoody was selected for brigadier general. Brotchie, who was a colonel, decided it was time to retire and enter private industry. He resigned his most recent position to move to Redstone, where he spends his days involved in community activities, supporting his wife and golfing. He is known for reading and editing his wife's speeches, and being a sounding board for new ideas and initiatives.

"It's easier for us to communicate because we both understand each other professionally and personally," Brotchie said. "I don't feel like I'm retired. I stay busy with charitable activities and, as the spouse of a four-star general, the Army certainly has expectations and opportunities for me. I've been retired from the Air Force for 11 years and I probably could write a book on the reactions people have about me being married to a four-star general."

Brotchie is on the board of directors of the Special Operations Warrior Fund, which provides college scholarships to the children of fallen Special Operations personnel. He participates in community activities, and is a resource for Army Community Service.

"We work together," Dunwoody said. "He is always there to support me and he is always there as part of the community. Craig is the reason I'm still in the Army. I wouldn't be here without him. He's a man of integrity, commitment and compassion. He encourages me, counsels me and catches me off-guard by saying how proud he is of me."

Military gratitude
As the Army's first female four-star, Dunwoody has 36 years of military experience backing her up along with plenty of female firsts in the Army.

In 1992, she was the first woman to command a battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division. She was the first female general to serve at Fort Bragg, and the first woman to command the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Va. Dunwoody deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm as a division parachute officer for the 407th Supply and Transportation Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division. She served as the 1st Corps Support Command commander in the deployment of the Logistics Task Force in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and she has served as the executive officer to the director of the Defense Logistics Agency, and as the Army's deputy chief of staff for logistics.

Dunwoody also comes from deep military roots with a family member serving in every American war since the Revolution. Her father, retired Brig. Gen. Harold Dunwoody, served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, earning two Purple Hearts. Her brother is one of a long line of West Point graduates, her older sister was the third woman in the Army to become a helicopter pilot, her niece is an Air Force pilot who has served a tour in Afghanistan and her brother-in-law is an Air Force veteran.

Dunwoody does acknowledge that she is a role model for other young women who are pursuing military careers and other careers in male dominated fields. But she wants to stand for much more than that. She wants to stand as an example for all Soldiers.

"I encourage everyone to enter and enjoy the military because it is such a noble profession," Dunwoody said. "Whether you join the military for two, 10 or 36 years, you are a better citizen for being in the military. We will return a better citizen to our nation.

"Those who serve in the military learn that they can do anything, they can be anything. We are fortunate and blessed to be in an Army that gives opportunities to be all you can be with hard work, commitment and dedication."

More than 214,000 women currently serve on active duty (about 20 percent of the total force) and there are more than 1.8 million women veterans in the U.S. But rather than discussing gender-related issues of an all-inclusive Army, Dunwoody prefers talking about the bravery, commitment and dedication of the Army's all-volunteer force.

"We owe such an incredible debt of gratitude to the young men and women joining our military today. They were 7 and 8 years old on 9/11 and they are still joining a military at war," she said. "We also need to extend that debt of gratitude to the families who provide support to those Soldiers through good news and challenging times. I think General (Raymond) Odierno (Army chief of staff) has said it best: 'The Army is the strength of the nation, the Soldiers are the strength of the Army and families are the strength of the Soldier.'"