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Army packaging policy work group.

The need for an effective, proactive Army packaging management group and its importance to the success of logistics operations have been recognized since before World War II. Many noteworthy technological, policy, training, and operational events and milestones have marked the evolution of the packaging discipline. The most recent event in this evolution was the establishment of the Army Packaging Policy Work Group (APPWG) by the Department of the Army (DA) as a viable intra-Army committee. Equally notable is the fact that, for the first time, the committee's chairmanship is vested in the DA G-4.

Army Packaging Board

A look at the APPWG's development helps explain the significance of its sanctioning. The APPWG replaces the Army Packaging Board (APB), which was established in 1944 to assist in the development of packaging policy. The primary APB functions included providing guidance on the organization of Army packaging activities; standardizing packaging materials, methods, testing, and procedures; procuring packaging; reducing packaging costs; and training packaging personnel.

Between 1945 and 1960, the APB initiated testing procedures for standardized packaging. In the mid-1960's, the board concentrated on stock readiness and the readiness of packaging operations. From 1970 to 1991, specific areas of interest included packaging modernization, packaging procurement costs, vehicle processing, and pre-positioning of materiel in Europe. APB meetings stopped in November 1991, resumed in July 1993, and continued through 1995, when they were suspended because personnel cutbacks in many Army organizations reduced participation. The Army regulation that implemented the committee was rescinded, effectively dissolving the APB.

APPWB Establishment

Efforts to reestablish a packaging authority began after the May 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review stated that the Department of Defense (DOD) "will trim current forces primarily in the 'tail' (support structure)." To that end, the Army Materiel Command (AMC) created a program management plan for a Virtual Integrated Materiel Management Center.

As a part of that plan, AMC created a packaging business process improvement focus group (BPI FG) to conduct a comprehensive review of all aspects of prevailing packaging policy throughout AMC. The BPI FG determined that there was a critical need to update and standardize packaging policy and to integrate its components into overall logistics, acquisition, and engineering planning policy, particularly at the major Army command (MACOM) level. Consequently, the BPI FG recommended the institution of an Army packaging management group to consolidate and manage packaging policy and to serve as a formal decisionmaking group overseeing Army packaging. The group would provide guidance and recommendations for packaging research, development, testing, and evaluation; support acquisition reform initiatives; pursue packaging cost reductions; promote packaging safety; foster sound packaging ecological and environmental practices; assist unit personnel with materiel readiness issues; and review and promote extensive personnel training programs.

Another consideration that led to the recommendation for a packaging management group was the need to support three other important ongoing logistics initiatives: Total Asset Visibility, Integrated Sustainment Maintenance, and the Single Stock Fund Program. A formal packaging focal point would facilitate the implementation of the packaging requirements of these initiatives.

The BPI FG also recognized that, if a packaging policy group were to provide a total Army perspective, achieve its stated goals, and be able to implement the aforementioned initiatives, it must be established and chaired at the DA level. The BPI FG's final recommendation included the specific provision that the DA G-4 provide the chairman for a group of Army representatives who would address packaging and packaging-related issues.

The BPI FG further recommended that a packaging representative from the AMC Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA) Packaging Storage and Containerization Center (PSCC) serve as the deputy chairman of the group. The deputy chairman's responsibilities would include coordinating meetings; preparing the agenda, minutes, and correspondence for DA approval; and tracking and reporting on directed actions. Most importantly, the deputy chairman would provide technical expertise to the chairman and the group itself.

The deputy chairman's first act was to implement the BPI FG's recommendations. In May 2000, DA directed the PSCC to formally establish an Army packaging group, which became known as the Army Packaging Policy Work Group.

Group Accomplishments

The first meeting of the APPWG took place in January 2002 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In addition to the DA G-4 chairman and PSCC deputy chairman, the work group consisted of MACOM representatives, representatives from the packaging training community, AMC senior packaging experts, and commodity managers. It also included technical experts from storage and maintenance activities and data and document activities.

The group's first order of business was to develop a charter. A committee was formed to draft a charter, staff it, resolve comments, and present it to DA for approval. Within a month after the first APPWG meeting, DA approved an interim charter, which was incorporated into an Army-specific pamphlet staffed by the Army Logistics Integration Agency.

Army Transformation became the APPWG's first priority. The Army Chief of Staff's vision for the Transformation Campaign Plan (TCP) states, "In terms of sustainability, the logistics footprint will be reduced. For this to occur, the number of vehicles deployed must be controlled, reach capabilities must be leveraged, weapons and equipment [must be] designed in a systems approach, and projection and sustainment processes [must be] revolutionized."

The APPWG realized that the Army would need packaging innovations to achieve the strategic requirements of this vision. Therefore, in its first two meetings, the APPWG reviewed the way items were currently packaged and what changes were needed to support the Army Transformation mission. The result was a list of 20 proposals based, in part, on new technology and breakthroughs in packaging science. They encompass changes in materials and equipment, modifications in packaging procedures and practices, and establishment of training programs. The proposals have great potential; however, Army-wide validation and acceptance are still needed. PSCC was designated to prioritize, research, develop, evaluate, and implement the most worthy proposals and is currently seeking funding to accomplish these initiatives.

While training programs are being established to support the implementation of the TCP, the APPWG's chartered training objective is ongoing. Both the Army Quartermaster Center and School at Fort Lee, Virginia, and the School of Military Packaging Technology at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, are active members of the APPWG and have the group's endorsement. The APPWG charter states that the group "will provide a forum for advising the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) on the development and improvement of training pertaining to packaging and recommend how their programs can respond to Army needs."

The Quartermaster School, after coordinating with the School of Military Packaging Technology, is exploring the expansion of packaging training in its program of instruction (POI). The Quartermaster School representative explained to the APPWG that current packaging training serves as a good introduction to packaging basics for the soldier. However, Milestone 3 of the Single Stock Fund Program requires soldiers at the troop installation level to pack assets properly for worldwide shipment, so a more comprehensive POI may be needed. To further support the POI expansion and to augment its present staff, the Quartermaster School expressed the desire to add a School of Military Packaging Technology instructor to its staff to teach packaging to beginning students. DA directed the school to pursue this action through the proper TRADOC channels.

Other accomplishments during the APPWG's first year included--

* Publishing the G-4's policy for implementing the measures of the European Community and the United Nations International Plant Protection Commission for controlling the spread of insects by using solid wood packaging material.

* Developing a Web site for posting DOD and Army packaging information. The group is continually updating the Army packaging Web page as well as adding interfaces with all packaging data on Army Knowledge Online.

* Directing the expansion of the Stock Readiness Program.

* Reestablishing communications among the various integrated materiel management centers and research, development, and engineering packaging communities.

* Maximizing customer support throughout the distribution pipeline by addressing the need for training on the use of appropriate packaging equipment, supplies, and automation.

On 15 January 2003, the APPWG officially became an intra-Army committee. This was truly the culmination of years of endeavoring to achieve and maintain DA recognition. The APPWG will continue to build on the foundation fashioned by all the packaging groups that preceded it.

No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Bryant, F. Barry
Publication:Army Logistician
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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