The Army Sustainment Command Distribution Management Center
ensures that Soldiers have what they need, when and where they need it.
In the past year, the 1st Infantry Division’s 3d Brigade at Fort Riley, Kansas, accelerated its transformation to a heavy brigade combat team. At Fort Bliss, Texas, an entirely new 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, has been built from the ground up. The Alaska-based 172d Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), which was reflagged as the 1–25 SBCT after returning from Iraq, reset after its combat tour. Four brigades headed to Iraq sooner than expected. Our Army is in motion everywhere, all the time. For a logistician, it is a target-rich environment, to say the least. Deadlines, headlines, timelines, and frontlines all compete for precious resources and attention.
Enter the Army Sustainment Command’s (ASC’s) Distribution Management Center (DMC), located at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. The DMC is at the heart of an operation that puts the right equipment in the right hands at the right time and place—in the right amounts and right condition. In other words, the DMC is responsible for sustaining our Army. It is a herculean task, compounded by transforming combat units, relocations, battle losses, scarce resources, and persistent conflict.
| (U.S. Army photo by Ted Cavanaugh, E.L. Hamm and Associates, Inc.)
Guided by the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) process, ASC and the Army Materiel Command (AMC) have tackled the task of integrating and applying the combined capabilities of the entire range of materiel and logistics service providers. Lieutenant Colonel Darryl J. Tumbleson, the DMC’s officer in charge, described the DMC’s role as pivotal, focusing “on the Soldiers who put the ‘force’ in ARFORGEN.” He said that the DMC mission is “ensuring every Soldier has the means to fight and win when the call comes.”
Since its activation in September 2006, the DMC has moved rapidly to support the modular, expeditionary Army. With over 100 Soldiers and 5 Army civilians, augmented by several dozen contractors, the DMC is expanding its capabilities daily.
The DMC is connecting combat units with support services in an entirely new way, using a global, holistic approach. A global network of Army field support brigades and battalions, logistics support elements, and brigade logistics support teams connects the DMC at Rock Island with units in the field. With brigades, divisions, and corps going modular, logisticians are adapting. They have to adapt because the traditional, linear logistics organization will not work on today’s battlefield.
Less than a year ago, most corps and divisions had their own support commands and materiel management centers and all the Soldiers, civilians, systems, and procedures needed to support them. Today, those functions have been embedded, to some degree, in formations, while ASC has stepped up to apply global solutions. “A 4th Infantry Division brigade combat team might be fighting under the direction of the 1st Armored Division, which may, in turn, be led by the XVIII Airborne Corps,” Tumbleson said. “The modular Army demands innovative, responsive, and effective logistics solutions—on a global scale.”
Although the DMC might be described as a continental Unites States theater support command, its reach must connect units at every stage of the ARFORGEN process. “For example, we know a deployed unit will require reset on its return, so planning for this begins long before their return and continues until the unit’s back on line for its next mission,” said Lieutenant Colonel Robert Godlewski, chief of the DMC’s Readiness Division.
Synchronizing support requirements with operational readiness needs is the heart of the DMC mission. DMC’s advantage is its ability to identify, analyze, and act on all readiness issues. Tumbleson described the DMC as “logistics scouts, observing and reporting, then shaping the logistics battlespace.” DMC’s mission is like assembling a puzzle with a thousand pieces that are all in motion. Putting it together takes persistent professionals bringing their skills to bear. “The DMC is an effects-based operation. By looking across the board and synchronizing capabilities with requirements, we can shape the outcome of the readiness battle,” Tumbleson asserted.
While ASC and its DMC are aiming for full operational capability, contractor-operated materiel management teams have been set up at installations across the United States. During the implementation phase of DMC’s development, the materiel maintenance teams are on the ground, forging and maintaining links to units and installation-level activities.
A groundbreaking agreement between AMC and the Army Installation Management Command is enabling new visibility of capabilities. AMC is now able to capitalize on directorate of logistics (DOL) maintenance capabilities throughout the continental United States by allocating efficient workloads. “Installation-level directorates of logistics have long provided first-class maintenance, repair, and supply capabilities to their supported units,” said Tumbleson. “It’s no good to have the DOL at one place working overtime while another facility has excess capacity.”
Another facet of the DMC’s operation is its Mobility Division, which provides asset visibility of retrograde and reset
equipment and materiel during the shipping process by maintaining a robust array of in-transit visibility systems. The
Mobility Division works closely with the U.S. Transportation Command and the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution
Command to analyze projected movement of cargo.
Automated logistics systems are used to tie all of the DMC missions together. The number of logistics systems is staggering. If the Army
uses a system for property accountability, readiness, supply, maintenance, or any of the myriad logistics considerations, the DMC is involved.
Because many of the legacy systems are designed to support a different Army, determined DMC operators must use creative problem-solving to
get the systems to provide the information that they need.
The ASC DMC is working to build predictive demand tools that will be able to handle the immense volume of logistics requirements in the ARFORGEN
process. Successful materiel management for ARFORGEN includes integrating, coordinating, and synchronizing operational support to readiness.
Charles W. Fick, Jr., is the chief writer and deputy to the Army Sustainment Command’s public affairs officer for print and command information. Educated at Ohio University and the University of Oklahoma, he served in the Air Force and attended a variety of Defense Information School courses.