U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA) logo
U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity

Materiel Matters

USAMMDA Public Affairs

Materiel vs. Material – It's More Than a Typo

By USAMMDA Public Affairs, published on 01/30/2020

Whenever someone new begins a career with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, they must quickly learn the difference between "materiel" and "material" – if they don't already know this, of course. The pronunciation is very similar, so this causes a problem for some, who may not have seen it in print beforehand. However, the team at USAMMDA is very familiar with these words, and their distinct definitions with regard to Army acquisition, and we'd like to share this information with our followers.

It's probably safe to assume that many already know and understand the "-al" version of the word, as this relates to many things in everyday life. The most common textbook definition points to the word as "substance" or "matter from which a thing is or can be made." Simple enough, right? So, basically, we can all agree that "material" describes pretty much anything, and everything, in our world. With regard to the Army, however, material (vs. materiel) would most likely refer to the things used for typical daily duty, such as office supplies like paper, pens, shipping boxes, paper towels, desks, chairs, lamps and thousands of other common-use items that are needed to keep the military running smoothly, from an administrative perspective.

So, at this point, things should seem pretty straightforward.

Now let's delve into the definition of the "-el" word, materiel, which is also pretty simple. In a nutshell, materiel denotes "supplies, equipment and weapons in military supply chain management," which are used by all of the Service branches. In most cases, materiel refers to the items needed by the force to execute a given mission. This can include tanks, planes, boats, guns, ammunition, missiles, protective gear, tents, food, and of course, military medical products and supplies.

This last example is important to the men and women of USAMMDA, because this is the crux of our critical mission. And, if you happened to notice above, it's called out right in the middle of our name, "Medical Materiel." The daily task of our organization is to develop and deliver quality medical capabilities to protect, treat and sustain the health of our Service Members throughout the world. The things we create range from drugs, vaccines and blood products, to medical devices, prosthetics and treatments – all of which are extremely important to the strength, health and readiness of our military forces.

So there you have it, and hopefully this clears up any confusion between the two words. Without trying to muddy the waters any further, just think of it this way: All "materiel" is "material," but NOT all "material" is "materiel."

We hope this makes it easier to understand the difference. But, if not, please don't blame us – we only report the information, we don't make it up! But if we did, it would be material and NOT materiel! (Well, as long as it wasn't being used by our military forces for a specific mission. But that's another story…)

We are working together to support our troops!

Other Recent Blog Posts
Colonel Gina Adam

The Start of Something New

By Colonel Gina Adam, published on 12/03/2019

Hello, I'm COL Gina Adam, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, located at Fort Detrick, Maryland. On behalf of USAMMDA, I'd like to welcome you to our new Command blog, Materiel Matters, which we intend to publish monthly for followers of our great organization! Although I will still continue writing the USAMMDA Commander's Blog for our command's staff members, this external blog will be geared towards providing timely, interesting and necessary information for our public followers. [Read more...]

Colonel Ryan Bailey

Thank You for Your Great Work!

By Colonel Ryan Bailey, published on 06/17/2019

I can't believe it's already been two years since I came to this great organization! It seems like only yesterday that I was taking the USAMMDA guidon from Col. Geesey during the Change of Command ceremony, and now we're only days away from the next ceremony, where I'll pass the guidon to your new USAMMDA commander, Col. Gina Adam. I'm most proud of the organization's accomplishments during a time of unprecedented change in the Army. We've successfully conducted multiple organizational transitions, as we've moved from being under the Army Medical Command, to the Army Materiel Command, and now to the Army Futures Command – all the while continuing to deliver critical products to our Warfighters. We've seen historical numbers for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of our products, including the anti-malarial drug Tafenoquine, the pain management drug Sufentanil, and the Laboratory Assay for Traumatic Brain Injury product, which is the first-ever blood-based test to detect instances of mild TBI. We've also moved a number of our products closer to the finish line as well, such as freeze-dried plasma, which can help save lives far forward on the battlefield. [Read more...]

Colonel Ryan Bailey

Remembering Our Nation's Warfighters

By Colonel Ryan Bailey, published on 05/28/2019

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and that you were able to enjoy quality time with family and friends. Most importantly, we all should take time to give thanks to those who served and gave the greatest sacrifice for our country. It's really important that we keep in mind our fallen warriors, not only on Memorial Day but all throughout the year. It's because of them, and all of our military Service Members, that we continue to live free in our great nation. And if you haven't been to Arlington National Cemetery, especially during the Memorial Day holiday, with all of the grave flags in place, you really should spend some time walking the grounds – it's truly an inspirational sight. [Read more...]

Colonel Ryan Bailey

Military Appreciation and Honoring Inventors

By Colonel Ryan Bailey, published on 05/06/2019

Throughout May, our nation shows its appreciation of our military members serving throughout the world. However, May is also National Inventors Month, so within the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, we have the unique opportunity to honor our Service Members that are part of critical product development groups. Our mission to create new medical capabilities that support the health of our military involves numerous partnerships with medical laboratories across the globe, as well as important transition agreements to make this happen. We work with our military labs within the USAMRMC, and other federal partners and industry, so it's truly a team effort to bring new technologies forward and have these transition quickly to the acquisition process for development. [Read more...]

Colonel Ryan Bailey

April Shouldn't Fool Anyone!

By Colonel Ryan Bailey, published on 04/15/2019

It's April 15, and Tax Day is here again! If you haven't done so already, please don't forget to submit your tax paperwork by midnight tonight, to avoid any penalties or problems with the IRS. More important, however, we should always keep in mind that as stewards of taxpayer dollars, we must remain committed to managing our budgets efficiently to support the Department of Defense and Army priorities. At the same time, as acquisition professionals, we have to continue to do our business as intelligently as possible, to meet the intent of what the taxpayers expect from us. [Read more...]


back to top

Last Modified Date: 01/30/2020