The history that leads to the Army Sustainment Command (ASC) is that of military logistics as a whole. Sun Tzu defined logistics as “A general science forming the most essential parts of the art of war.” Logistics has been a struggle that spans the age of war. From the age of conflict in the Roman Empire, to the French Army under Napoleon, to the D-Day Landings at Normandy, and the sustainment of Allies in the Global War on Terror, logistics has been the source of innovations and struggles.
The beginnings of organizational structure of logistics in the United States Military that we see today occurs with the enacting of the National Security Act of 1947, and the transition from the War Department to the Department of Defense (DoD). The subsequent creation of Major Army Commands (MACs) and Subordinate Commands (MSCs) follows in the years after.
The first MSC at Rock Island that is associated with AMC is Weapons Command (WECOM), which had grown from the former Ordnance Weapons Command (OWC). OWC specialized in the commodity of weapons research, development, testing, and production. It oversaw a program from drawing board to fielding. During its first year of operation, WECOM was responsible for the M14, AR15, the Davy Crockett Recoilless Rifle, and many other ordnance systems. The command was able to provide support to the joint force through its Weapons Research Laboratory (WRL) and Artillery Systems Laboratory (ASL). Eventually, the WRL is transferred to Rock Island Arsenal in 1973 and renamed the Thomas J. Rodman Laboratory. (While the mission was transferred to Rock Island Arsenal in 1973, the mission was on the installation already. This function transferred from the command to the arsenal.)
Several subsequent command reorganizations and restructurings took place in the following years, with WECOM fragmenting its munitions mission into Munitions Command (MUCOM) in 1974. The remainder of WECOM focused on small arms development in Armament Command (ARMCOM). Meanwhile, the Rock Island Arsenal factory remained a proponent of a single arsenal commander that oversaw the factory and garrison functions. Prior to the Renovation of Armament Manufacturing (REARM), ARMCOM had split itself into two commands. One oversaw research and development, while the other oversaw readiness and fielding. These were merged in 1983.
In 1981, modernization efforts at Rock Island Arsenal were undertaken to streamline the manufacturing process. REARM was the mission that drove this effort. This aimed at repairing damaged buildings, replacing machinery, and reorganizing the distribution of labor across the arsenal. This project increased the productivity of the arsenal by 215 percent and came at a cost of $23.1 million in FY1983. By 1985, the project was completed with the construction of Buildings 211 and 212. (REARM also provided new machinery and changed the movement of parts through the manufacturing process.) With this, the arsenal had a breath of new life and was prepared to take on the years to come. While REARM was underway, Armament Munitions and Chemical Command (AMCCOM) had emerged as the new senior organization on the island. It is AMCCOM that eventually goes to war alongside the factory during the Gulf War.
In 1997, Tank-automotive and Artillery Command (TACOM) was established, and the Rock Island Arsenal factory found itself realigned under this new command. This changed the route at which the arsenal reported to its senior oversight. All the depot activities found their way under the Industrial Operations Command (IOC), while manufacturing aligned under TACOM. These two footprints widened AMC’s footprint at Rock Island and kept the heritage of a base commander within the factory.
A major change in Rock Island Arsenal’s structure came in the years from 2003 to 2006 with the factory in the middle. First in 2003, the Joint Munitions Command (JMC) and Army Field Support Command (AFSC) were both established. These two commands grew out of the former OWC lineage and were a two and one-star command, respectively. In 2005, the last arsenal commander, Jerry B. Elliott handed over garrison functions of the arsenal to the Installation Management Agency. This ended the factory commander’s function as the arsenal commander after 140 years. The factory was subsequently renamed the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center at Rock Island (JMTC-RI). In 2004, AFSC and JMC’s roles reversed when AFSC took over the two-star billet. In 2006, AFSC transformed itself into the ASC, ending a multi-year, large-scale transformation of AMC structure at Rock Island.
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