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Army Sustainment: Supporting the maneuver commanders

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Army must be able to logistically execute at the tactical, operational and strategic level anywhere in the world in support of the maneuver commander, said Lt. Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-4.

"We have nothing else to do but support the maneuver commander," said Perna, speaking at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare Sustainment Hot Topic in June.

"Today," he said, "Nine out of 10 of our active duty divisions are committed. We are increasing our presence in Africa, South Korea, Iraq, Europe and Kuwait."

Adding, "Any assumption that the wars ending in Iraq and Afghanistan would bring us to a peacetime posture is now a false assumption."

Perna said that due to reduced funding, the Army logistics community must collectively focus on efforts to achieve the greatest impact.

"These efforts are logistics leader development, Army readiness, and the Army Operating Concept and Force 2525," he said.

Today, many critical sustainment skills have atrophied or been lost, Perna said.

"We were supported well by contractors in the last 10 years," but that’s not the future, he added.

"We must ensure that we can take ourselves into an expeditionary environment and survive on our own. We need to bring back this capability. … I feel confident that we have the mechanics, the operators, the crews, and the leaders that will bring us there. But it takes standards and discipline."

Perna said Army logistics is already working on solutions to these challenges.

"We have a new tool on the horizon. We have started implanting the Ground Combat Support System – Army, or GCSS-Army," Perna said, adding the system "is clearly the game-changer in logistics."

GCSS-Army is a logistics and financial system that will track supplies, spare parts, organizational equipment, unit maintenance, total cost of ownership and other financial transactions related to logistics.

GCSS-Army will affect every supply room, motor pool, direct support repair shop, warehouse, DOL and property book office in the Army, improving efficiency and visibility for approximately 160,000 users.

"We are over 70 percent fielded in wave one, which is the conversion of supply support activities," Perna said.

"In January we started fielding wave two, which converts property books, supply rooms and unit funding," he noted.

Adding, "We as logisticians need to inform our maneuver commanders and ensure they understand and grasp its importance. Maintenance and supply is not logistics business, it is commanders’ business, but we are held accountable to be the experts."

Perna then posed four more logistics challenges to the audience and panelists.

"How do we set the theater using emerging technologies?" he asked. "We will need a global network of fixed and mobile nodes – land, air and sea – in order to override anti access area denial challenges."

Perna said the Army needs to challenge itself in sustainment operations. "We will require increased efficiency and reduced consumption on the battlefield," he said.

To do this, the Army must transform the way it uses energy and water.

"The third challenge is maintaining freedom of maneuver," Perna said.

The Army must reduce reliance on strategic lift, and integrate joint force capabilities to provide sustainment for multinational forces and partners.

Finally, Perna said Army logisticians have to maintain focus on Korea and the Pacific to "ensure that capabilities and capacities are sustained for maneuver commanders" throughout the region.