MODULAR SUSTAINMENT FORCE STRUCTURE
Over the past 10 years at war and in two very different landscapes, the Army has made significant strides in adapting its sustainment techniques, tactics, and procedures (TTPs) to meet the requirements of the Soldiers and units in the fight. Since we were in theater while making these changes, we were “fixing the engine in mid-flight,” so to speak, making the effort that much more challenging.
In order to capture all of the issues that deployed sustainment units were facing, as well as the solutions they implemented to overcome those issues, the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) instituted an after-action reporting technique called the Reverse-Collection and Analysis Team (R-CAAT) program. Similar to the Collection and Analysis Team program used by the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) at Fort Leavenworth, KS, the R-CAAT brings redeployed sustainment commanders and key unit personnel to CASCOM to collect all of their theater experiences and garner their feedback.
Since its inception in 2006, the R-CAAT process has amassed invaluable information about the state of our sustainment operations. This article briefly highlights the most important lessons learned from the R-CAAT program, and what the Army has done to bridge gaps and eliminate roadblocks.
Beginning in 2005, the Army transitioned from a division-centric force to a brigade-centric force, meaning that the force structure of units provided a “plugand- play” functionality that enabled the Army to tailor sustainment brigades to meet the mission.
There was no home-based test to validate this modularity concept; it was tested in theater during deployments. Throughout the initial deployments of these tailormade sustainment units, we were able to adjust and restructure according to the needs on the ground.
Commanders reported that superior sustainment on the battlefield resulted from the outstanding supporting and supported relationships that were built as sustainment commanders integrated themselves into the staff and battle rhythms of the maneuver commanders.
Due to the modularity within the Army, mission command supported a decentralized design that empowered custodians of resources and capabilities. As such, sustainment commanders were given the latitude to provide resources based on the maneuver commander’s requirements.
MANAGING CONTRACT SUPPORT
One of the issues with sustainment in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom was the lack of a systemic organizational process to manage the large number of contracts in theater. In response, the Army increased the available contracting officer’s representatives and established the Operational Contract Support Course. Here, two contractors sort and load recyclable materials at Joint Base Balad, Iraq in December 2010.
INTEGRATED FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AND HUMAN RESOURCES
Maneuver and sustainment boundaries need not conflict. Sustainment brigades could provide support to multiple divisions and task forces by freely crossing through sectors owned by different battlespace commanders. It was this positive feedback that validated the shift to modularity.
Interviews through the R-CAAT program revealed that financial management and human resource (FM/HR) capabilities were not integrated into the support, planning, and operations (SPO) staffs of sustainment brigades and expeditionary sustainment commands. In addition, the role of FM/HR within these brigades and commands was not well understood.
To eliminate this gap, the Army implemented multiple solutions: 1. The Adjutant General School created an HR Plans and Operations Course for Human Resource Operations Branch (HROB) leadership. 2. The Financial Management School developed an FM Leader PreparatoryCourse.3. Updated field manuals expand on the roles and responsibilities of HROBs and FM SPO teams, to include FM 1-0,Human Resources Support; ATTP 1-0.2, Theater-Level Human Resources Support; and FM 1-06, Financial Management Operations.
R-CAAT program feedback exposed the lack of a systemic organizational process to manage the large number of contracts in theater. As a result, the Army implemented several initiatives that affected operational contract support (OCS) doctrine, policy, training, and organizations.
Through the teamwork of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Integration Office and CASCOM, commanders saw an increase in available contracting officer’s representatives and the establishment of the Operational Contract Support Course, which provides instruction on the processes and procedures for planning and integrating OCS. All S/G-4 positions in brigades and above, as well as logistics unit SPO staff, must complete the course.
OCS training has also been integrated into predeployment exercises.
CONVOY PROTECTION PLATFORM GUNNERY
Today’s sustainment units will need to defend themselves, their convoys, and their sustainment bases against opposing forces. At the start of operations, there was a training and equipment gap in the planning and execution of convoy security by sustainment units.
To resolve this, the Army institutionalized convoy security training at home station and provided ammunition allocation and gunnery standards to sustainment units. Training Circular 4-11.46, Convoy Protection Platform Gunnery, published in April 2010, provides the first Armywide standardized, table-based, mounted gunnery training for sustainment units and provides guidance for sustainment commanders on deploying convoy protection platforms and training convoy escort teams.
With the amount of equipment going into theater, distribution management became an obvious issue. Commanders identified gaps including the inefficient use of transportation assets, poor movement request management, lack of total asset visibility, and meager in-transitvisibility. Disjointed movement control operations disrupted the synchronization and integration of logistics efforts.
Supply Support Activity technicians cited shortages of material handling equipment (MHE) and management problems with the enormous volume of unidentified containers. The response was the establishment of the Centralized Receiving and Shipping Point (CRSP), a concept that increased transportation efficiency by shortening distribution routes between forward operating bases and the CRSP hub.
CASCOM championed using the Logistics Reporting Tool that is part of the Battle Command Sustainment and Support System to provide visibility of commodities and capabilities. CASCOM also developed container management TTPs and distribution management TTPs, and authorized the allocation of more MHE.
Along with distribution management, the lack of property accountability was hindering the sustainment mission. Splitting property books, oversight of equipment left behind at the garrison, and tracking theater-provided equipment all contributed to the issue. Commanders struggled with maintaining visibility and control over both contracted and locally purchasedequipment.
CASCOM partnered with HQDA G-4, the U.S. Army Quartermaster School, U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), and CALL to institutionalize change.
These changes included:1.A Command Supply Discipline Program (CSDP) handbook that highlights the tenets of property accountability, which was distributedto the field.
MAINTENANCE AND RECOVERY OPERATIONS
2. Numerous surveys to validate property accountability training and knowledge gaps. 3. A CSDP Program of Instruction module about property accountability, which was introduced to professional military education across the Army. 4. Increased rank structure and number of supply-trained personnel in the supply room and the property book office.
These endeavors supported and complemented the actions implemented by the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Property Accountability Campaign, which from the 4th quarter of FY10 to the end of 3rd quarter FY11 resulted in nearly $3 billion invested in filling unit equipment shortages.
One of the issues we faced early on and are still struggling with in the more remote areas of operation is recovering damaged equipment, especially the heavier fleet of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and Strykers. The R-CAAT program made clear that there was not a single recovery system to move disabled or catastrophically damaged equipment to a repair location.
CASCOM and AMC worked together to develop requirements documents for a materiel solution to recover heavier equipment from the battlefield. Complementing this and further mitigating the capability gap was the action to increase the number of institutions producing Soldiers qualified for H8 Recovery Operations.
Lastly, CASCOM is working with U.S. Army Human Resources Command to manage the H8 Army Additional Skills Identifier down to the installations via requirements.
One of the things commanders sought during and after deployment was a better understanding of aerial resupply capabilities and systems, as well as the differences between using military vs. contracted aircraft and pilots. In addition, recovery of aerial delivery assets proved difficult, especially in more remote locations.
The solution came in the form of varied parachute systems, such as the Low-Cost Low-Altitude parachute and the Joint Precision Airdrop System. Furthermore, commanders needed to change their mind-set about aerial delivery, to think of it as a method of resupply instead of an emergency-only action.
Key evidence of this change is the amount of supplies airdropped: In 2005, 2 million pounds were airdropped; in 2008, 16.6 million pounds; and, as of the end of October 2011, 76.7 million pounds.
As briefly covered with this article, the Army and its sustainment components are always seeking ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness in supporting our Soldiers and units. These lessons learned are, at best, cursory; they are not the beginning,nor are they the end, of what logisticians are learning and applying to improve how we provide agile sustainment to our forces.
COL SCOTT FLETCHER is Chief, Logistics Initiatives Group, HQDA, G-4. He holds a B.S. in math and computer science from The Citadel, an M.S. in administration from Central Michigan University, and an M.S. in national strategic resources from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Fletcher also is a graduate of the Joint and Combined Warfighting School within the Joint Forces Staff College.
CW4 WAYNE A. BAUGH is Ordnance Officer-in-Charge, Analysis and Integration Division, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command Directorate of Lessons Learned and Quality Assurance. He holds a B.S. in liberal arts from Excelsior College and an M.S. in logistics management from Florida Institute of Technology.
DEVON HYLANDER is a Strategic Communications Specialist supporting HQDA, G-4 for L-3 Communications/MPRI. She holds a B.A. in English from West Chester University, an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from National-Louis University, and an M.A. in public communication from American University.