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Military Logistics and the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center

The Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, MI
The Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, MI [6]
The Hart-Doyle-Inouye Federal Center in downtown Battle Creek, MI is a complex of 22 interconnected buildings that house a myriad of military logistics and support departments. These departments handle the purchasing, supply, and sale of military assets along with the large amounts of data and cataloging associated with each one.

Building History

The building began its life as the Western Health Reform Institute. It was ran by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. In 1876 it became the Battle Creek Sanitarium. A sanitarium is a hospital of sorts that helps people with chronic illnesses or who are recovering from an incident that put them into poor health. The official Sanitarium brochure describes one of their goals as “To make available, in most approved form, every rational curative means known to medical science, so that the same may be brought to bear in any individual case, giving special prominence to physical therapy, or so called physiologic therapeutics.” [4]. The establishment was ran by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg who, with the help of his brother Will Keith Kellogg, invented breakfast cereal that led to the creation of Kellogg’s cereal company. Dr. Kellogg was an interesting fellow; apparently he had very strange ways of treating his patients. He even walked through the halls with a bird on his shoulder [2]. Dr. Kellogg’s “medical methods” at the sanitarium were so radical and extreme that a movie was made about the sanitarium in 1994 called “The Road to Wellville” which stars Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda, and Matthew Broderick. Despite all of that, the sanitarium was frequented by many wealthy patrons and stayed open from 1866 to 1942 [5,6].

During the depression, business declined at the sanitarium and in 1933 the building went into receivership. In 1942 the U. S. Army bought the building and turned it into the Percy Jones General Hospital. It was named after the army surgeon whose thirty-year career included commanding ambulance units during World War I. The hospital treated soldiers injured in battle during WW2 and specialized in neurosurgery, plastic surgery and the fitting of artificial limbs. About one-hundred thousand patients were treated before the hospital closed in 1953. A year later, the building was taken over by the Department of Defense (DOD) and became the Battle Creek Federal Center that it is today [5]. It was renamed the Hart-Doyle-Inouye Federal Center in 2003 after three prominent U. S. senators that were treated in the building when it was a hospital [2].

Federal Center Cafeteria [6]

The complex is currently made up of 22 interconnected buildings numbered from 1 to 22. The main tower (building 1) is fifteen stories tall and is one of the few skyscrapers in the downtown area—its twin spires are a very iconic part of the Battle Creek skyline. There are tunnels that run across Washington Street to the west that were put in place when the building was used as a hospital. There are also twice as many bathrooms as necessary because the building was built during segregation. Many of the Federal Center rooms have been renovated over the years. The cafeteria and the basement are some of the most memorable. Apparently there is even a mural of the Beetles in the basement that, along with other paintings, were used to liven up the sublevels during a renovation project [2].

Military Logistics

The United States military has a lot of logistical challenges that they need to handle on a daily basis. There are hundreds of departments in the government that manage the purchasing, supply, and sale of military assets. A large amount of these logistical tasks are taken care of at the Battle Creek Hart-Doyle-Inouye Federal Center. Some of the agencies at the Federal Center are the GSA Property and Administrative Services, the Defense Logistics Information Service (DLIS), the Defense Re-utilization and Marketing Service (DRMS), the Defense Logistics Agency Systems Integration Office (DSIO-J), and various IT and security divisions for the building and its resources. A large database/catalog of parts and supplies is stored on the government network and partially maintained by the workers at the Federal Center as well. The main departments that will be discussed here are the DLIS and DRMS [1].


The supply starts with the DLIS. The DLIS has employees in the provisioning department that work with government contractors and manufacturers to get a detailed list of parts and drawings for everything from “Aircraft to flashlights” and record them into the government catalog. They will take apart entire vehicles to make sure that the parts list is accurate. This careful tracking and cataloging process is done so that the government can always supply the military with the parts/vehicles/supplies it needs even if the original manufacturer cannot [1].

When manufacturing or designing products for the government, nothing can be deemed confidential or proprietary by the manufacturing company. The DLIS employees are very thorough in their inspections of these products. Some companies will attempt to sell a “proprietary” part for a marked up price. DLIS workers will have to compare every new part they log with the current parts in their database. They are very careful to check for duplicate parts to ensure that the government is only buying the most cost efficient version of each part that it can [1].

A large portion of the work done is accurately cataloging all of the parts needed for each government product. The designers give the DLIS an IPB which stands for Illustrated Parts Breakdown. This spec sheet outlines all of the parts included in the product and diagrams how they all fit together. The new parts are given an identifications number and added to the DLIS database. AS stated before, all new entries have to be compared with previous ones to ensure that no duplicate parts are being purchased at different prices [1].

NATO Stock Numbers [7]
The primary form of identification for these parts is the NATO Stock Number. This number is a 13 digit numeric code that is used by all NATO countries to identify all standard material items of supply. The number is separated into groups of digits that represent various coded information about that item formatted like this: abcd-ef-ghijklm. The first 4 digits (abcd) make up the Federal Supply classification Group (FSCG) or National Supply Classification Group (NSCG). This code has become increasingly more complex as time has gone on but can vary from 1005 for weapons, to 5531 for o-rings, to 8460 for luggage, to 8820 for live animals. The next 2 digits (ef) are the NCB code which designate the country of origin for this entry. These codes, like the NSCG codes, are fairly arbitrary in meaning; for example the USA is 00 or 01, Japan is 30, India is 72, and the UK is 99. The last 7 digits (ghijklm) are the item identification number. This allows for 10 million different items in each category for each country [1,7].

The NATO stock numbers and related material information is shared between all NATO countries along with some other friendly countries to form a unified materials database. Before NATO was around, the US used an 11 digit Federal Stock Number (FSN). This number was appended to in 1974 and changed into the 13-digit National Stock Number (NSN). NSN numbers are the basis for NATO Stock Numbers and are therefore interchangeable [1,7].


Just like how the DLIS handles the acquisition of new materials and equipment, the DRMS handles the disposal of no longer needed government property. They dispose of “everything from weapons systems to thumb tacks”. There are lots of regulations in place for disposing of unneeded or surplus military/government materials so the DRMS has to follow a very strict protocol to ensure these items are sold to the right parties [1].

The disposal system is based on a series of screenings down a metaphorical ladder of eligibility. If an item is not needed by a department of a government agency, that department tries to find a buyer within its walls. Once that item is deemed unneeded by the government agency, the item is passed on to the General Services Administration (GSA), specifically the DRMS, who tries to find buyers inside the government. If no buyers are found there, the DRMS declares the items surplus to the government and they may either be given to a public institution like a school or hospital or sold to anyone in the public who is interested. The key to the system is the list and as long as it’s followed, no surplus government property gets into the wrong hands [8,9].

Many agencies have buyers that they work with frequently like needy universities or research institutions and simply notify the GSA of any transactions. The GSA is responsible for all surplus military items and produces many lists of them for buyers to peruse. The agencies in the Federal Center in particular put out the list of some of the more “valuable and sophisticated” equipment [8]. One of the links in the Further Reading section below ( is to a website created by the Defense Logistics Agency to aid the selling of surplus military equipment to the public [3].

Today many of the servers that were located in the Federal Center have been moved and duplicated across the United States for redundancy and security reasons. The large amounts of database information has been spread out across multiple servers. There are still some systems maintained at the federal center like The SAP CRM system that is used to process incoming call center requests, but again, this system has been spread out across the US to avoid putting “all of its eggs in one basket” [3].

The Battle Creek Federal center houses numerous governmental agencies that, along with other offices around the United States, provide logistical services for the US military and government as a whole. This building has seen wealthy people, injured people, and hardworking people. It has served the military well. It will continue to light up the Battle Creek skyline with its archetypal design for years to come.


Primary Sources:

[1] T. Stoner, “Tom Stoner’s experience working for the DLIS at the Battle Creek Federal Center”, Phone, 2016.

[2] D. Hughes, “Dave Hughes’ Knowledge of the federal center”, Phone, 2016.

[3] J. Beck, “Joel Beck’s IT experience at the Federal Center”, Phone, 2016.

Secondary Sources:

[4] J. Kellogg, The Battle Creek Sanitarium system. Battle Creek, Mich.: Gage Printing Co., printer, 1908.

[5]”Michigan Historical Markers”,, 2016.

[6]”Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center”,, 2016.

[7] “NCS / NSN”,, 2016.

[8] “NEWS IN BRIEF”, Science, vol. 171, no. 3974, pp. 880-880, 1971.

[9] Omnilert LLC., Defense logistics agency renews amerilert contract to provide personnel alerting services. PR Newswire 2010.

Further Reading: