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NEWS | May 21, 2019

Ensuring readiness for Soldiers, families

By Kari Hawkins U.S. Army Materiel Command Public Affairs

As the Army's most important asset, Soldiers, and the families who support them, are the top priority in the mission to ensure readiness.

From the uniforms they wear to the gear they receive prior to a deployment to the military hardware they are trained to operate, Army Materiel Command is committed to providing the best equipment to ensure Soldier readiness for the battlefield. Likewise, from recreational facilities and fitness programs to housing and on-post social services, AMC is committed to ensuring Soldiers and their families are ready and resilient to address the challenges of the military lifestyle.

"We cannot let them down," Gen. Gus Perna, AMC commander, said.

"Our recruits come to us from throughout the country and from all walks of life to join our Army. They join with the confidence that we will take care of them. The readiness of our Army depends on the readiness of our Soldiers and their families."

As one of seven focused priorities in support of the Strategic Support area in Multi-Domain Operations, Soldier and family readiness is focused on ensuring both Soldiers and their families are prepared to effectively navigate the challenges of daily living in the unique context of military service. That mission involves readiness for nearly 1 million Soldiers across all components and about 1.3 million family members, and includes oversight of more than 104,000 family housing units and 6,300 Soldier barracks at 72 installations.

With the realignment of Installation Management Command as a major subordinate command, AMC is now a total force provider and the supplier of "Soldier, family and civilian programs that enhance and enable readiness and resilience of the force," Valerie Lubin, a human capital strategist in the Army Materiel Command Human Resources Directorate (G-1), said.

"AMC is not only the life cycle sustainment manager of equipment from cradle to grave, but now also the life cycle sustainer of Soldier and family, and civilian programs," Lubin said. "We have to ask how programs are impacting readiness, quality of life, well-being and resilience, and whether we have the right mix to care and mitigate challenges faced by Soldiers and their families, and civilians."

To gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities in providing readiness support to Soldiers and their families, and civilians, AMC is creating an oversight strategic integration capability to synchronize a readiness support plan.

"The goal is to establish oversight and to integrate into Soldier, family and civilian program governance processes that represent the commander's guidance and goal to ensure our Soldiers and families along with our civilians are ready to take on a mission or to support a mission," Lubin said.

Lubin, who is also AMC's key adviser for Soldier, family and civilian programs, said the Army manages more than 39 programs in support of Soldiers and their families, and civilians, particularly those civilians who are stationed overseas with the same benefits and programs as Soldiers.

"Programs include Army Community Service, Child and Youth Services, suicide prevention, resiliency and substance abuse programs, SHARP, and warrior care and transition programs," she said.

The Installation Management Command manages Soldier, family and civilian support programs through Morale, Welfare and Recreation categories A, B and C.

Mission Sustaining Programs, known as Category A, are programs and services deemed most essential to meeting organizational objectives and to promoting physical and mental well-being of military members, including installation physical fitness and aquatics, library programs, parks and picnic areas, basic social recreational programs, and sports and recreation. These programs are funded through appropriated funds from Congress.

Community Support Programs, known as Category B, are programs and services that provide Soldiers and families with community support systems, such as child development programs, youth activities, outdoor recreation, arts and crafts skill development, automotive skills development and sports programs above the intramural level. These programs are funded through a combination of appropriated and non-appropriated funds.

The revenue generating programs belonging to MWR, known as Category C, fund the majority of their operating expenses through fees and sales, although they are authorized limited appropriated support. These programs include golf courses, recreational lodging, bowling centers, clubs and boating activities.

"The services we provide to support Soldiers, families and civilians are similar to services they can find outside the gate in our communities and cities," Lubin said. "But, whether they get these services inside or outside the gate, we want to make sure the services provided enhance readiness and resiliency, and mitigate any risks or challenges our Soldiers, families and civilians may be experiencing."

All MWR categories, both those generating revenues and those relying on primarily appropriated funds, will be reviewed to ensure the proper revenue and expense calculations are being used in each of the categories, Lubin said.

"We are looking at the business rules and the processes being followed in all categories, and we are monitoring revenues, and we will provide recommendations," Lubin said. "We want to be proactive in providing Soldier, family and civilian services. We want to establish partnerships and collaborations between the Army, AMC and IMCOM that benefit Soldiers, families and civilians.

"This is an opportunity for AMC to be the integrator between the execution and distribution of resources so we get the best programs, and the most effective and most efficient programs."

The goal is to know what is happening with MWR programs and services at the installation level, and then look for ways to make improvements that impact readiness and resiliency.

As budgets tighten, and mobilizations and civilian deployments decrease, it's important for AMC to work with IMCOM to stabilize installation costs and ensure commonalities in service, she said.

"We, as an institution, need to look at installation transformation," Lubin said. "As the Army rebalances the force, and rebalances service deployments, objectives and costs, we owe it to our Soldiers, families and civilians to address their current needs to improve readiness today, and enable a ready and resilient Army of 2035."

AMC and IMCOM will look to commanders to identify and provide information on what services and programs are working for Soldiers and what aren't, she said.

"Commanders need to know what their units require to be ready. They need to tell us how we are supporting those requirements, and what they see as strengths and weaknesses," Lubin said.

"AMC now has the unique mission of being the total force provider, integrating materiel readiness and Soldier, family and civilian readiness to maintain the Army's strategic advantage in generating, projecting and sustaining forces across all domains."