The U.S. Army is in a position to move forward and transform its logistics organization as part of a Department of Defense-wide effort to create a military force capable of efficiently and effectively operating in a Joint force environment. Combining a greater use of Joint forces logistics capabilities with advances in technology that could, with proper support, take place over the next decade could enable the logistics forces of the 2020s to operate in a manner that would produce less of a logistics burden than the current force while improving the level of support provided to operational forces. The committee was asked to postulate three scenarios that might reflect the changes that could occur should the actions it recommends and the actions recommended by other study groups be implemented. The three scenarios are as follows.
It is September 15, 2020. COL Robert Scholes, commander of the 3rd sustainment brigade, stands on the shore of the Sea of Artask watching Military Sealift Command vessels unloading cargo in the port city of Highrise. U.S. forces have been working with elements of the Inlandia military for nearly two months as three U.S. brigade combat teams (BCTs) moved from the continental United States to the Pacific nation of Inlandia and convoyed nearly 300 miles to deploy along the border Inlandia shares with the hostile nation of Outlandia. Outlandia has threatened to invade Inlandia and, under a bilateral treaty arrangement, the United States has agreed to stand along the border with Inlandia’s forces to prevent any hostile movement into its territory.
Scholes thought back to the planning that took place at Southern Command over a year earlier as part of preparations for routine contingency actions. He, along with representatives from Strong, Inc., a logistic support contractor brought on board by Army Contract Command, had carefully assessed the logistic profile of Inlandia to determine the ability of that country to assist in the support of U.S. forces should they be deployed to that country. They were heartened by the presence of significant port facilities and a large airfield, both of which had previously been used by Strong, Inc., in its support of commercial mining operations in the region. The highways from the port to the border with Outlandia and into the capital of Outlandish were in very good shape and could support use as a main supply route. When tensions between Outlandia and Inlandia heated up, the United States began to move the equipment of the BCTs by sea to Highrise. They then used local facilities and personnel to prepare the equipment for the arrival of troops, who would come later by air. When the equipment and troops were linked, the BCTs deployed to the border area, one astride the main supply route and the other two on their flanks at some distance.
On his flights to Inlandia, COL Scholes recalled the many questions he still had even after the Southern Command briefings. He smiled as he recalled being met on arrival in Inlandia by the U.S. embassy defense attaché, a Navy captain, who provided a thorough brief of the situation on the ground in Inlandia, describing essentially the social network, including the political and military leadership and the real power centers. The attaché then took questions, some of which required more research and a secondary brief. Scholes was also happy to meet the embassy military attaché, an Air Force major, whose
job was to keep in touch with the U.S. embassy in Outlandia, which had not yet been asked to leave that country, and with a network of allied and neutral country contacts in Outlandia. He learned that not all Outlandians were hostile to Inlandia or to the United States. This knowledge was most enlightening and reassuring.
COL Scholes was also surprised when the embassy defense attaché introduced some nongovernmental organization representatives, who maintained extensive regional logistics contacts for their continued humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities. He recalled that the Army had recently joined the other U.S. services in supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities in the Pacific and understood that our military role in these situations was principally emergency logistics, to buy time until the nongovernmental organization s could take over. These relationships were proving useful and having Army personnel on hand with established logistics experience in the area was invaluable.
During the 60 days since the decision to move was made, a steady stream of supplies had moved through the port and airfield. The use of the Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army) and associated applications made it easy to get unit-specific supplies and equipment to the right location. Three years of working with GCSS-Army had convinced the combatant commanders that they would have asset visibility at all times and that they would have what they needed, when they needed it.
Movement of the supplies and equipment to the forward area was accomplished by convoys of autonomous leader-follower vehicles creating their unique brand of the Red Ball Express of World War Two. Convoy security was provided by unmanned aerial vehicles, controlled from an Air Force facility near the port. Once the supplies reached a forward operating base some 50 miles behind the border, they were transferred to autonomous aerial supply vehicles for movement to company and battalion positions.
COL Scholes, thinking back to his days with a battalion during Operation Enduring Freedom, was amazed at the significant reduction in supplies required by the forward elements. Water, which had been a major load in Afghanistan and Iraq, was being produced by quartermaster units deployed with and positioned near the forward elements. While the artillery still brought in a heavy load of ammunition, initial efforts to reduce the weight of dunnage were paying off, and the total load was being substantially reduced. The total load of artillery ammunition was further reduced by the increased use of precision munitions compared to Col. Scholes’ days in Afghanistan. The ability to accomplish the same fire objectives with far less ammunition had turned out to be a real logistics force multiplier. Fuel demands for aviation and the armored force continued to be substantial, but the initial modification to turbine engines was noticeably reducing the demand. The colonel was also surprised by the reduction in the number of aviation components being shipped to the theater. His aviator colleagues had told him that condition-based maintenance was allowing them to determine what they would need and when as opposed to stocking everything just in case. He was also pleased to see an expeditionary three-dimensional (3-D) printing facility in place in Highrise to support emergency replacement of critical parts. The facility had deployed with the necessary software that would permit it to rapidly build any of the parts in any of the equipment that had been brought to the theater.
Since it was not the intention of the U.S. government for its forces to remain in place for more than 6 months, there had been no development of semipermanent base camp facilities, substantially reducing the need for construction materials and energy to power facilities. Where there was a need for substantial electric power, its distribution was carefully controlled by a smart grid to ensure that critical facilities were serviced and fuel loads reduced. COL Scholes observed that the net result of the reductions in demand had also caused a reduction in the number of people required to provide sustainment for the deployed forces.
Still hoping that the tensions would be resolved and that ground combat would not be necessary, COL Scholes understood that the logistics organization that was on the ground in Inlandia was ready and able to support the deployed forces should they be required to engage the Outlandia army and to maneuver into that country.
It is October 2020. MG William Williams, Commanding General of the 1st Expeditionary Support Command (ESC), is in his Operations Center at Fort Bragg and is going through the details of the command’s planned deployment to PACISLANDIA, a Pacific Island nation. His staff is briefing him on the logistics situation on PACISLANDIA. They have pointed out to him the following:
• Ports are not available. PACISLANDIA is a developing country and has focused on support of low-level fishing operations.
• Logistics over the shore (LOTS) will be required to support the command’s operations. Data indicate that sea state at this time of the year is between 2 and 3.
• Landing will be minimally opposed by the PACISLANDIA militia (hostile forces).
• There are ongoing conflicts in the interior between the militia and native freedom-fighter forces (friendly forces).
• At first, resupply will have to by aviation assets. Initial forces may have to capture air fields.
• Marines or airborne forces will be deployed first. There will be limited or no use of heavy forces.
• Unit basic loads and combat loads will be increased to 5 days of supply because of the uncertainties.
• According to the Army Geospatial Center, ample sources of fresh water are available on PACISLANDIA.
• An intermediate operating base will be established on the island of Independence, which is 100 km from PACISLANDIA. This will be primarily a contractor operation. Power, Inc., is the contractor.
• Initially, an air line of communication (LOC) will operate from Independence. A sea-based LOC from Independence will be established as soon as feasible.
• Special operating forces (SOF) have already been clandestinely deployed to PACISLANDIA. Locations and size of the force have not been provided to the 1st ESC. Army and Marine forces are responsible for support of SOF in their areas of operations. It will be important to ensure that the local Army and Marine commanders know of the existence and number of special forces operating in their areas.
• Representatives from the 1st ESC are working at U.S. Army Pacific, Pacific Command, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Based on these considerations MG Williams gave his guidance to his staff with respect to capabilities required:
• Because of the sea state situation, we need ensure that we have sufficient aviation assets to establish an air LOC from Independence to PACISLANDIA. We must plan on being able to resupply one day of the combat and basic loads each day. Our autonomous aviation assets, both air vehicles and precision airdrop capabilities, have given us a much greater capability than we had in the past. Let me know how much, how often, and what the autonomous aviation resupply will be.
• See what the Navy can do for us with respect to sea-based support. I want the intermediate operating base and Navy capabilities to complement each other. We should always strive for synchronized joint logistics solutions. Don’t overlook the regional capabilities of our logistics contractor, Power, Inc., and our allies in the region.
• Make sure the early entry forces can produce and distribute water at the small-unit level from local resources and that we follow with water generation units using the advanced technologies we now have available. If, under emergency conditions, we go with bottled water, we must inform Pacific Command and U.S. Army Pacific of the amount of aviation assets that will have to be dedicated to this.
• With the new caseless ammunition and copper 5.56 mm rounds, our lift requirements for ammunition should be reduced because the copper ammunition is more effective and less needs to be transported, and the caseless ammunition weighs significantly less than cased ammunition. Check with Program Executive Office Ammunition to determine whether the forces will be issued the precision guided munitions rounds prior to deployment. Also check with Training and Doctrine Command to determine if the increased accuracy of the precision guided munitions and the lethality of copper 5.56 mm have been factored into the number of rounds in the basic load. There should be fewer rounds, which again will help us with our lift requirements.
• Since Power, Inc., has been in on the planning of this operation since the beginning, we should get information from both it and the Defense Logistics Agency on whether fresh food and other commodities can be purchased in PACISLANDIA.
• Make sure our contracting officers arrive early in the deployment and hook up with the operational forces they are there to support.
• I want a separate briefing on the capabilities of our decision support systems and of the recent upgrades to GCSS-Army. These are real logistics multipliers and will give both our logistics units and the operational forces continuous visibility of our supply chain.
• Find out if our aviation support assets have the new engine developed by the Improved Turbine Engine Program. As you know, the fuel savings are considerable. The recently fielded combat vehicle fuel and power efficiency programs and the auxiliary power units will also result in fuel savings. We should see significant reductions in fuel demands because of all this. On the side, check to determine if there are any research and development programs that will improve the fuel efficiency of our resupply and basic-load- and combat-load-carrying vehicles. We need that work to be moving ahead.
• Get in touch with our Combined Arms Support Command and Army G-4 representatives to see if we can run a quick computer-aided map exercise based on this scenario, with the capabilities we now have, to determine what the two additional days of basic and combat loads do to our resupply tonnages, along with our current capability to satisfy these requirements.
• Fuel resupply will be an issue. Check with the Navy and see what they can do for us. The farther forward they can go, the better for us. Again, since we have fielded the improved power trains, our combat vehicles should be more fuel efficient. I expect to see the use of the Appliqué Autonomous Follower Systems on our resupply trucks, reducing the risk to our drivers’ safety and cutting the number of transportation soldiers we will need to put on the island.
• Also check with Special Operations Command, Pacific, to see if all the Operational Detachment-A team leaders have been trained on how to get support for common items. Same goes for the Marine forces. Training instituted by both Training and Doctrine Command and U.S. Special Operations Command has been very useful in this regard.
• We need to have our sea-based repair vessel deployed to the operational area. Since it now has a considerable 3-D printing capability, we will be able to reduce our repair cycle times for critical parts. Also, work with the Navy to use its 3D printing capability.
• Be sure to involve Power, Inc., in all stages of planning and execution. They have worked in this area for years and can be of great assistance.
• Find out if we can accelerate the current research and development program that is working to improve the sea state capability of our LOTS equipment. Working on the PACISLANDIA shoreline is going to be tough, especially with the higher sea state levels we are going to encounter. This has been a long-standing issue, and we need an improved sea state capability now. I am disappointed that we still haven’t fielded a more sea state capable LOTS.
At the completion of the briefing MG Williams mentioned to his Deputy Commander that our logistics capabilities are so much better then when he was company commander in the 1st Corps Support Command around 2005 because of the systems and technologies now available.
As she looked over plans for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Aridia at the end of the 180 day Operation Secure Lands, LTC Barbara Smith, G-4 of the First Cavalry Division, thought back over how well the operation had been carried out. The operation had been instigated by the continuing threat that Aridia might use chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive (CBRNE) weapons against its neighbors, bringing to a head long-standing tensions between Aridia and the United States and its allies in the region. Aridia had long been considered one of the most bellicose nations in the region. While possessing a 300-mile coastline, most of its assets and population were separated from the sea by a large desert.
When Aridia employed chemical weapons against a dissident group in its own country and fired biological weapons across the border at one of its neighbors, a multi-national effort was mounted against Aridia to seize the CBRNE materials that were stored in four supply depots and to defeat Aridian forces protecting those facilities. Initial entry into Aridia was spearheaded by the Marine Corps, which seized critical port facilities and the communities surrounding these facilities. The Aridian forces fell back deep into the interior of their country to four separate locations, where brigade sized armored forces set up defenses of the CBRNE facilities.
After picking up prepositioned equipment located in one of the nearby friendly countries, Army BCTs landed in Aridia, passed through the Marines, and moved to the interior to engage the Aridia forces deployed in arcs in front of the storage facilities, located approximately 500 miles from the port complex.
When she arrived in theater, LTC Smith had been concerned about the length of the routes that would carry supplies to the advancing BCTs. Although the highways were relatively secure because of the overhead surveillance provided by Air Force drones operating in theater, she worried that the heat, desert sand, and distance would combine to create problems for the movement of supplies. Thinking back on the supply figures she had used as a student at Command and General Staff College, she remembered that she had been concerned about the ability of the sustainment package in the current operation to keep up with the rapidly advancing armored forces. Over the course of the operation she learned that the reduction in fuel consumption of aircraft and armored vehicles brought about by advances in turbine engine design had cut the fuel demand by a quarter. She also learned that the move to condition-based maintenance would allow her to get the right part to the right location at the right time throughout the campaign.
LTC Smith had also been impressed by the ability of the mobile 3-D printing unit attached to the division to take care of issues that arose with one-of-a-kind critical parts resupply. She also thought back on the reduction in the size of the support force brought about by the use of autonomous resupply vehicles that moved rapidly in leader-follower convoys across the desert from the port to forward resupply bases, and the flexibility in resupply that was brought about by the use of autonomous aerial resupply to move the most critical equipment forward from forward operating bases to the battalions engaged in combat. Having been stationed at forward operating bases during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, she was amazed at how the size of these bases had been reduced in the intervening years. They had become mobile and lean.
Because of the vastness of the battle space and the presence of nomadic natives, she had initially been concerned about the threat these local groups might pose in interdicting the main supply routes. She had been relieved when special operations forces moved into the area to work with these local groups when possible or to confront them when necessary. She had met some of the SOF personnel a few years earlier when she was at the Army Logistics University and had developed the procedures that integrated SOF resupply into the system that was also providing for the conventional forces in theater.
Providing water to the troops, which she remembered as a heavy resupply burden in Afghanistan and Iraq, had been easily handled through the use of water delivery teams that were able to take portable purification units to areas near engaged units and to provide them with all of the water they needed. Liaison with Army Geospatial Center prior to deployment had identified probable locations of water supplies within the theater and turned out to be on the mark when forces actually arrived. She was also
thankful for the opportunity she had had to work closely prior to deployment with RGC, Inc., the contractor that was providing base-level logistics support for the division. The company had previously worked with many of the local firms and was able to use this knowledge and experience to find places where local facilities could be used for billeting, storage, and other activities, thereby reducing the effort required of military forces.
Perhaps most satisfying to her was her ability to know where critical material was at all times. The in-transit visibility information on supplies, shared with logistics personnel and commanders in the forward units, greatly reduced her anxiety and theirs about what she would have, where she would have it, and when. The linkage of the logistic information system across services and contractor forces allowed her to quickly address any unique problems that arose. Frequent preoperational tabletop exercises conducted with personnel from the U.S. Transportation Command and the Defense Logistics Agency ensured that these linkages were locked in long before units left their home stations, and that those linkages remained solid throughout the operation. They would also greatly assist in the retrograde of the material from Aridia.
LTC Smith could truly see the transformation that had begun in military logistics and the effectiveness of an all-hands approach to modern logistics operations.