Excellence at the USAMSC-K, Directorate for Maintenance in Korea

  • Jun 12, 2018

"Amateurs talk about strategy.  Professionals talk about logistics."  General Omar Bradley


A few weeks ago, we had the rare opportunity to tour a US military maintenance facility in Waegwan, South Korea.  The operation "executes below Depot sustainment and field level maintenance and recovery operations for Eighth Army forces on the Korean peninsula."  We observed work on tanks, combat and tactical wheeled vehicles, heavy-duty construction equipment, transportation containers, technical field equipment, small arms, and electronics.  It's crucial work supporting the soldier in the field.  The impressive facilities and activities are worthy of a case study in international cooperation and productivity.

The Theater Sustainment Repair Program (TSRP) turnaround time data places the operation in elite status, and Valid Quality Deficiency Reports score less than 1/10 of 1 percent.  How does a satellite operation, primarily manned by South Korean nationals marginally fluent in English, not only succeed but become industry standard?

David Martinez, the Director for Maintenance, points at his front-line management and their force of Korean labor.  "We've embraced the culture; the MSC-K motto is 'two nations, one team', but the Directorate for Maintenance motto is 'one team, one family".  David and his management team attend their Korea staff's weddings, baptisms, funerals, and are avid fans of the Daegu Lions baseball team.  "Understanding the people in the foreign country we live in is paramount, but initial challenges faced in the development of the operation were basic to any industrial operation."

David's team took over and started taking car of their men.  Korean weather is extreme; cold winters and hot, humid summers, and the workplace requires heating and air conditioning systems.  "Creating a safe and comfortable working environment was the first initiative.  We next focused on leadership and results, implementing cash incentives, and educational programs."  The resulting corporate culture and daily productivity speak for themselves.

The government program might one day become an example at a Tom Peter's management seminar.  They've created success by putting people first.  We also observed Dave's application of "MBWA", Management By Wandering Around, but that's another discussion.

The ultimate winners are the facilities' clients, the men and women in the field, and American tax payers.  (MSC-K leverages logistic cost sharing, Korean government financial support, to enable improved services, quality, and safety.)  The program ultimately enables the soldier to receive equipment in a timely fashion, be better prepared to do their job and return home safely.