HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Army is building equipment activity sets in Europe, the Pacific, Africa and elsewhere as it works to give commanders the flexibility to quickly respond to contingencies around the world, the top commander of Army Materiel Command said Tuesday.

These activity sets include the brigade-sized set in Europe that includes almost 90 Abrams tanks, as well as equipment in places such as Cambodia and Vietnam, said Gen. Dennis Via, speaking at the Association of the United States Global Force Symposium and Exposition here.

Army Materiel Command works to provide armor, artillery, engineers, logistics, communication, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, along with sustainment supplies and material to "provide our Army and the joint force with strategic reach, allowing units to quickly deploy and fall into equipment that is highly modernized," he said.

Via said the Army plans to establish eight equipment activity sets around the world, each tailored to the needs and demands of the combatant commander.

AMC also has reset logistics support in Iraq, providing aviation, artillery and heavy equipment maintenance and support there, Via said.

At the same time, it is ramping up support to U.S. Army Pacific, Via said. This includes supporting Pacific Pathways, which sends soldiers on three- to four-month deployments in the Asia Pacific region to conduct exercises and military-to-military engagements with partner armies. AMC also supported 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, on its recent nine-month rotation to South Korea, the first rotational BCT in South Korea.

Gen. Dennis Via spoke Tuesday at the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.

Photo Credit: Army

"This powerful effort reassures our allies, the [Republic of Korea] army and the South Korean people," Via said.

In Africa, the Army is growing the unit that receives, maintains, stores and issues Army prepositioned stocks from a battalion-sized element into a larger brigade, Via said.

Despite all this work, "we remain in fiscally challenging waters," Via said. "We are constantly looking for ways to gain the most out of every federal dollar."

This includes reworking a contract that allowed the Army to buy nine AH-64 Apaches ahead of schedule and adapting logistics systems and processes to better support the Army's readiness objectives, he said.

AMC scientists and engineers also continue to work to find ways to improve on how the Army protects and sustains its soldiers on the battlefield, he said.

Among some promising initiatives:

* In an effort to lighten the load soldiers have to carry, AMC is developing soldier-borne energy harvesting technology, which would use the body's energy to power devices, Via said. This will allow soldiers to power their own equipment without having to return to the base and shed the weight of carrying extra batteries.

* The Army Research Lab is partnering with the National Football League to find ways to protect soldiers and players from concussions.

* Researchers from Natick are "constantly working" to produce food tailor-made to uniquely fuel soldiers, including turkey bacon, Via said.

* AMC is bringing back PS Magazine but in digital form. The Preventive Maintenance Monthly used to feed maintenance information to soldiers.

"The ability to sustain equipment has atrophied over the last decade," Via said. Part of that is because of the high operations tempo, but also an over-reliance on contractors.

The new version of PS Magazine will launch in June on Apple and Android devices, he said.

Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.

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