The Army Materiel Command maxim is, “The difference between readiness and reacting will be measured in lives lost.” The logistics of transitioning from peacetime medical care to wartime emergency response is crucial to preventing that loss of life.
AMC and its new major subordinate, Medical Logistics Command, took the time to test these systems at a tabletop exercise during the last week of August.
The goal of this first-ever AMC Medical Logistics Tabletop Exercise was to test the capabilities of AMC and AMLC, and look at the entire scope of medical logistics to delineate responsibilities and identify potential trouble spots in the execution. AMLC was activated on June 1, and is still developing its processes. The exercise gave a view of MEDLOG systems as they exist right now, and how they can and should be shaped for future events.
“We’re here to get a visual of the process and lay the foundation for future success,” Maj. Gen. Donnie Walker, AMC deputy chief of staff for operations, said as he opened the exercise. “Identify the gaps and seams. We need to see the entire evolution as it would run today.”
With the incorporation of AMLC, AMC is now responsible for all Class VIII (medical supply) logistics, which covers everything from pharmaceuticals to medical/dental/surgical supplies to laboratory equipment. It provides maintenance and calibration of medical equipment, and plans for medical facilities and contracting.
The exercise was a turn-based setting starting at peacetime and working up through hostilities and then returning back to peacetime. Through this setup, the logisticians and planners could look at snapshots of an event and determine the strengths to improve and the shortcomings that need to be addressed.
“Requirements forecasting is a challenge because peacetime medical needs do not match what is necessary to treat combat casualties,” Al Henson, exercise lead planner, said. “The Army does not generate significant Class VIII demands until it is deployed.”
Throughout the exercise, materiel management challenges such as stove-piped systems, perishable medicines and sensitive equipment were noted for future improvements.
“It is a simple fact that the peacetime military health system operates differently from combat situations. Combining that with the limited shelf-life of products, we have to shape our plans accordingly,” Henson said.
During his review of the exercise, Gen. Gus Perna, AMC commander, said, “We have to have the foundation and the ability to support operations from the beginning.”
He stressed AMC and AMLC need to know the readiness of Army medical stocks and the accuracy of military medical requirements to work with AMC partners, such as the Defense Logistics Agency to deliver on-time and in the needed amounts.
“We are the experts and we have the know-how to do the job,” Perna said. “If we need to, we change the algorithms to get where we want. We write the regulations for success.”