Projecting and Sustaining Materiel Preparedness

COL Michael B. Lalor
U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command
Ft. Detrick, MD

From Combat & Casualty Care, Spring 2020

Colonel Michael B. Lalor was commissioned into the United States Army through the ROTC program at the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, in May 1995. Entering military service from his hometown of Goshen, NY, COL Lalor has served throughout the U.S. Army in a variety of troop leadership and staff assignments.

COL Lalor joins the Army Medical Logistics Command after serving as the Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Sustainment, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C., from July 2018 – August 2019. COL Lalor joined OSD after serving as the Commander, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas, from June 2016 – June 2018.

During his career, COL Lalor has commanded formations at the company, battalion and brigade level in Afghanistan: Company Commander, Headquarters and A Company, 210th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Fort Drum, NY, and Operation Enduring Freedom (2003); Battalion Commander, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Fort Drum, NY, and Task Force Spartan, Operation Enduring Freedom (2013-2014); Brigade Commander, 1st Armored Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, Operational Freedom’s Sentinel and Operation Resolute Support (2017).

COL Lalor has also deployed as an M1A1 Tank Platoon Leader with 1st Battalion, 37th Armor, 1st BCT, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany and Operation Joint Endeavor, Bosnia and Herzegovina (1996); Division Logistics Planner, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Multi-National Division Center and South, Operation Iraqi Freedom (2008-2009).

Other notable assignments include: Executive Officer to the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, Headquarters, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C. (2010-2012); Brigade Commander, 3rd BCT / TF Spartan, 10th Mountain Division (2014-2015), leading the brigade through its inactivation.

C&CC spoke recently with COL Mike Lalor, Commander of U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command, Ft. Detrick, regarding current areas of focus and challenge in ensuring the right medical materiel capability is where and when the Army and Joint DoD partnering forces need it.

C&CC: What is the Army Medical Logistics Command and why was it formed?

COL Lalor: The U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command (AMLC) is a new major subordinate command activated June 1, 2019 under the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC). AMLC is integrated within the Army’s primary logistics and sustainment command, AMC, which creates efficiencies for the Army and allows us to capitalize on the expertise already inherent within the enterprise.

The AMLC’s mission is to project and sustain medical materiel capabilities and data in order to build and enable readiness for the Army and Joint Forces across the full spectrum of operations.

The creation of the AMLC was part of several larger Army medical reform efforts designed to ensure medical readiness, support wartime requirements, and enhance the quality of care for soldiers and their families. Readiness is the top priority with this transition. We must ensure medical forces have the specialized equipment and materiel they need to continue the best care for Soldiers, on and off the battlefield.

C&CC: What are the AMLC’s core competencies?

COL Lalor: The AMLC’s direct reporting units include the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency (USAMMA); the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe (USAMMC-E); and the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea (USAMMC-K).

Our core competencies fall into four main areas:

Strategic Power Projection
Manage the distribution of medical materiel (e.g., supplies, equipment, assemblages) across the Army and joint medical forces.
Provide forward-operating optical fabrication, including standard issue and frame-of-choice glasses, inserts for gas masks and eye protection, and flight goggles for pilots.
Manage and sustain medical Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) and other medical materiel readiness programs.
Coordinate medical Foreign Military Sales (FMS) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State to strengthen our Allied Partners and ensure inoperability.

Industrial Base Readiness
Provide depot-level repair, calibration, and recapitalization of medical equipment and medical special purpose test, measurement and diagnostic equipment (TMDE-SP).
Deploy medical maintenance experts to operational environments to provide forward repair and maintenance support.

Supply Availability
Distribute vaccines and provide Cold Chain Management training.
Support medical materiel quality control and hazard recall messaging.
Provide theater-level medical logistics support to Army and joint medical forces.

Logistics Information
Manage and update the medical materiel catalog.
Provide technical business support and record system training.

C&CC: Medical technology is advancing at a rapid pace, which would seem to create some challenges for organizations, such as AMLC, in keeping pace with sustainment and modernization. How is AMLC managing the incredible pace of change?

COL Lalor: We are committed to maintaining a partnership with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC) product managers who develop new medical technologies and modify existing commercially available products. Our goal is integrate medical logistics and sustainment considerations into medical materiel development and acquisition life cycle processes. The goal is always to provide units with the right tools to save lives on the battlefield — but that doesn’t mean the right tool is the same one used in a fixed hospital. Field conditions are very different and present unique logistical challenges, including environmental considerations (e.g., extreme heat/cold, sand and debris) and transportation burden (i.e., How large or heavy is the product? Can it be transported without breaking if put in a container and strapped inside a ship or airplane? Does it require refrigeration or power?). Another consideration is medical maintenance capability and cost (i.e., How often must the device be calibrated? What is the overall cost of sustaining it?). The Army’s goal is to provide the right tools in the right places at the right time — without adding extra logistical burden to the operational force.

C&CC: From a joint perspective, in what ways does AMLC coordinate across the Services and with other government and non-government partners?

COL Lalor: Medical logistics enables an entire system of medical readiness, from the deployability of service members in garrison to the delivery of medical care in an operational environment. The Army rarely deploys alone, so coordination among all military services and interoperability with allied partners is essential. The AMLC coordinates directly with external commands and agencies for professional and technical matters and mission support.

Our government partners include:

  • Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), for management of strategic medical materiel acquisition, distribution, and readiness programs
  • Defense Health Agency (DHA), in its execution of Defense Medical Logistics programs and shared services, such as materiel standardization and data management
  • Defense Medical Logistics Enterprise (DMLEnt), for collaborative forums and initiatives to promote materiel standardization and joint interoperability
  • Army Service Component Commands (ASCC) and Combatant Commands (CCMD), for development and execution of MEDLOG portion of health service support plans

In fact, in terms of military medical logistics, working collaboratively is greatly facilitated by the fact that we all share the same building (the Defense Medical Logistics Center) on Fort Detrick, where the Army, Navy, Air Force and Defense medical logistics partners work side-by-side every day.

C&CC: As AMLC develops, what are some of your priorities for the command? What challenges do you face and how are you working to overcome them?

COL Lalor: My number one priority is readiness and streamlining end-to-end Class VIII medical materiel distribution. There is a need for speed and agility to ensure deploying troops get the right medical supplies and equipment when and where it’s needed.

I am also focused on modernizing and operationalizing medical APS. We must make sure we have the most modern and maintained medical materiel capabilities, so we can provide options to combatant commanders and force-providing units.

Another priority is streamlining our medical catalogue and lowering the burden of materiel for our commanders and maintainers, while preserving, maintaining and updating our medical capabilities for clinicians. This requires striking a careful balance. We only have so much storage space and transportation resources. Medical must work closely with all of the classes of supply, so that medical moves in sync with the other commodities and does not disrupt it.

We have really begun to see ourselves more clearly through several recent exercises. We are also looking very carefully a unit-level demands to determine the foundation of what is required to meet basic medical needs at a moment’s notice, supporting everything from aid stations to field hospitals to APS.

We are completely about challenging the status quo of how things have always been done because we know that we must evolve. Medical logistics is modernizing so that we are prepared — now — to support the future fight.