You can’t prosecute a war without getting troops to the battlefield, or for that matter, tanks, bullets, tents, MRE’s and soap. From Camp Lejeune to Bagram, from Ramstein to Fort Dix, the U.S. Army moves a lot of equipment. If the Army drives it, shoots it, flies it, eats it or sleeps in it, the Army Materiel Command (AMC) has the responsibility to get it to the right place at the right time.
I had the opportunity to tour AMCs Operation Center last week to better understand its geospatial applications. AMC is a four-star command in a newly-built 440,000 square foot facility located on the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Logistics is a major focus in addition to servicing equipment and returning them to a battle-ready state. This is a busy time for AMC as two wars are drawing down and equipment is brought back to the U.S. And with the threats emanating from North Korea, expedited shipments to prepare for any eventuality are supported by AMC.
AMC has a long history but just before and after 9/11 it becomes a more warfighter-focused command. If it was a stand-alone organization, it would be the 5th largest company in the world with over 70,000 Army, Navy, and civilian workers comprising the joint command. Approximately one-third of the Army’s operations run through AMC according to Lieutenant Colonel Art Sharpe who provided the tour. The Operations Center is the central nerve system for moving equipment around the world and it is constantly monitoring the flow of materiel. AMC also has a research and development arm to solve problems unique to Army logistics.
Geospatial technology underpins much of AMC’s mission provides. The Operations Center uses several visualization tools to monitor the location and contents of container ships, aircraft or overland convoys. It uses Army Mapper, an ArcGIS-based solution, for facilities management applications. AMC makes extensive use of RFID technology to track pallets and is one area where geospatial technology has the opportunity to integrate asset information with location.
The Operation Center is comprised of several banks of computer terminals for approximately 50 people who work in logistical operations. A parallel room hosts a similar configuration for the business aspects of AMC. A third, but smaller room hosts the Global Information Technology Operations Center (GITOC) for IT functions and for establishing video conferencing with AMC’s secure facilities around the world.
Most impressive about the operation center was getting an understanding of just how much of the Army's operations depend on logistical management. AMC is a 24/7 operation and acts as a single point of integration for U.S. Department of Defense's communication capabilities for equipment and manpower movements. (See also the AMC video below; images and video provided courtesy of U.S. Army)