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The 6th Medical Logistics Management Center

An Army Medical Command unit links the sustainment base and the Army Medical Department with the medical logistics requirements of the deployed force.

On 13 October 2000, the Army activated the 6th Medical Logistics Management Center (MLMC), an organization designed to conduct class VIII (medical materiel) management in a manner similar to an Army logistics materiel management center in a theater sustainment command. The force design followed the total Army analysis tenet of providing support to two major theaters of war simultaneously.

The 6th MLMC’s primary mission is to centrally manage medical materiel, coordinate distribution, and manage medical equipment maintenance. It accomplishes this mission by providing base operations at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and by deploying a team of 13 people with different medical logistics management capabilities to the supported combatant command during combat operations.

The transition of Army logistics after 9/11, the integration of globalized automated management systems, and a new total Army analysis for simultaneously supporting three contingencies prompted the 6th MLMC’s staff to review the center’s capabilities and consider further modifying its force design. The 6th MLMC staff made suggestions and staffed changes in four areas: transformation, deployment capabilities, partnerships, and strategic management.

Transformation

The 6th MLMC’s commander established a working group that suggested that the unit realign its support teams so that it could stand up at a moment’s notice and support operations other than Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. This initiative required immediate changes to the force design, which resulted in modification table of organization and equipment changes that added an Active Army and Reserve component team to the authorized capabilities.

The commander’s working group also recommended that the 6th MLMC establish new standing operating procedures to ensure that it could provide capabilities, such as automation support, contract support, dedicated strategic air support, and in-transit visibility, from the sustainment base to the deployed force. Lastly, the staff recommended that the information management section of the support operations cell have a more robust allocation of personnel and equipment to enable the integration of automated systems.

The outcome of these recommendations was a ready support team that could deploy globally and a base operation with a framework that adapted to contingency operations abroad. The MLMC has become the critical link between operational medical logistics units and strategic capabilities managed by the Army Medical Command and the Defense Logistics Agency. The transformation includes the ability to—

  • Operate in a split-based mode.
  • Maintain the MLMC base in the continental United States.
  • Deploy MLMC teams into the area of operations. (Medical logistics teams plug into a theater sustainment command, expeditionary sustainment command [ESC], or the Coalition Forces Land Component Command J–4.)
  • Provide management of class VIII and medical equipment maintenance.
  • Link strategic-level logistics to operational-level logistics.
  • Link class VIII management to intratheater distribution.
  • Provide information management functions in support of single integrated medical logistics management.

Deployment Capabilities

The working group also recommended standing up, training, and deploying an early-entry support team to a contingency operation in one of the six geographical commands. To accomplish this, the commander decreased the deployed footprint in the U.S. Central Command area of operations from 13 personnel to 7.

The 6th MLMC staff reviewed the deployable capabilities of the ESC and recommended that a medical logistics plug-in would be the solution to integrating medical logistics with the ESC’s support operations cell. This medical logistics plug-in would continue to be integrated with the theater’s medical command-and-control structure. The staff recommended that the medical logistics plug-in develop an interface with the distribution operations center and the class I through class IX materiel managers of the ESC.

In response to these recommendations, the 6th MLMC established an early-entry support team in the U.S. Pacific Command, under U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and its Joint Forces Sustainment Component Command. The team colocated with the 19th ESC and postured itself for coordination with the 18th Medical Command, 16th Medical Logistics Battalion, Eighth Army Surgeon’s Office, USFK Surgeon’s Office, 168th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, and sister service medical planners.

The newly established medical logistics cell coordinated transportation, interfaced with the Defense Logistics Agency for contracting support, and coordinated with medical maintenance activities. The exercise was such a success that the 19th ESC commander validated the medical logistics plug-in as a critical function for the Joint Forces Sustainment Component Command. The early-entry support team renewed its participation in the U.S. Pacific Command exercise in March 2007. The success of the exercise allowed the 6th MLMC to continue its outward focus and engage with other combatant commands.

The 6th MLMC staff began to participate in U.S. Northern Command medical logistics planning summits that led to the employment of the support team in Ardent Sentry 2007 and the national-level exercise in 2008. The 6th MLMC engaged in the U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Southern Command medical logistics summits. The training and combatant command engagement strategy proved to be successful when the 6th MLMC received an executive order to deploy and execute early-entry support team operations in support of the U.S. Northern Command’s hurricane relief. The team’s efforts in integrating and enabling medical logistics operations validated the capabilities of the 6th MLMC.

Partnerships

Besides a combatant command engagement strategy, the 6th MLMC commander and his staff suggested that partnerships play a major role in setting the stage for an efficient end-to-end supply chain management process. The 6th MLMC began by incorporating the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP) troop support planners. A number of meetings and exchanges of information with key partners enhanced logistics integration.

Some of the key players in facilitating this process were DSCP, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency (USAMMA), U.S. Army Medical Materiel Command-Europe, combatant command medical logistics planners, the U.S. Army Medical Information Technological Center, Army Medical Command, Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support project managers, and the Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care product manager. These partnerships brought together stakeholders to achieve a common goal. The 6th MLMC has been successful in combining efforts with the different partners to execute real-world contingency operations.

Strategic Management

The 6th MLMC developed its first strategy map to document its way ahead in a continuous process, which becomes a long-range plan. The map focused on the main objectives of end-to-end supply chain management. The 6th MLMC plans to have four forward support teams in its future force design. It also has transitioned to the Defense Medical Logistics Center (DMLC), where it is colocated with Air Force, Navy, USAMMA, and the DSCP troop support planners in the DMLC Joint Operations Center. The transformation of the center comes at a time when the Army must focus on worldwide logistics, joint support, and relevant and efficient materiel management.

The development of the 6th MLMC has focused on supporting combatant command medical logistics planners. The unit is committed to assisting the staff of each combatant command in developing medical logistics. Its long-term strategy is to provide sister service integration, supply chain analytics, the medical logistics common operational picture, and readiness charts.

As the base transitions into the new DMLC, its focus is on having a common language for support capability, information systems, and planning. The 6th MLMC is preparing to become a fully integrated and transformed unit that provides the key functions required for today’s global challenges.

Major Edgar G. Arroyo is the support operations officer for the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62d Medical Brigade, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of Maryland. He is a graduate of the Army Medical Department Officer Basic Course, the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course, the Combined Arms Services and Staff School, and the Army Command and General Staff College.


 
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