Operationalizing Materiel Support to the Army
Times change. The world evolves. Leadership transitions. Great organizations adapt. Such is the case with our U.S. Army. To address new threats and the security environment around the globe in support of the National Military Strategy, our Army leadership set priorities and aligned operations, shifting to the Sustainable Readiness Model and Multi-Domain Battle concept.
The U.S. Army Materiel Command, the Army’s materiel integrator, is adapting alongside it, fully nested with the chief of staff of the Army’s priorities. In conjunction with the U.S. Army Forces Command and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Army Materiel Command rounds out the triad that ensures the Army remains the best-staffed, best-trained and best-equipped fighting force in the world.
The exceptional commanders before me assembled the modern Army Materiel Command and expanded our focus to be regionally aligned with forward-support units in support of combatant commanders. Now, as the Army adapts to the current environment to address today’s threats and prepare for the future, we have the tremendous responsibility of ensuring that the enterprise continues to operate in a supporting role. Through three main priorities—strategic readiness, the future force, and soldiers and people—directly aligned with those of Army leadership, Army Materiel Command will synchronize, integrate and operationalize the capabilities of our nine major subordinate commands in support of Army requirements.
Vision, Time, Resources Required
Operationalizing the command is a process requiring vision, time and resources. It requires commanders across the materiel enterprise to think outside of, and bigger than, their own organization. It requires an understanding, knowledge and appreciation of the capabilities of organizations across the Army, and the best methods and approaches of synchronizing and coordinating across those capabilities to achieve objectives. It requires identifying and assessing risk, and providing decision space for senior leaders to maneuver and determine appropriate courses of action. It requires a total team effort—a humbleness and adeptness—to identify and reach out to the right organization to lead an effort, not just the organization that traditionally handled it. It requires focusing our efforts and the hard work of the total team on outputs and end states—not the ways and means to get there.
My counterpart at TRADOC, Gen. David G. Perkins, explained Multi-Domain Battle as a concept that “advances the proven idea of combined arms into the 21st-century operational environment by describing how future ground combat forces working as part of joint, interorganizational and multinational teams will provide commanders the multiple options across all domains that are required to deter and defeat highly capable peer enemies.” By operationalizing Army Materiel Command in support of this concept, the materiel enterprise will do the same: Work across organizations to provide multiple options and solutions to equip and sustain our warfighters in support of mission success. We can accomplish anything together if there is no need to worry about who gets the credit.
Six strategic objectives chart the path to moving Army Materiel Command forward in support of the Army’s priorities of readiness, the future force and people:
1. Sustainment Doctrine
As we look at doctrine, Army Materiel Command must be in a supporting role to TRADOC. Our materiel and sustainment doctrine must be aligned to reinforce and influence Army and joint doctrine. We will work across the materiel enterprise, with the Department of the Army G-4 and the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, to truly see ourselves. We must ensure our sustainment doctrine is both current and adaptable, comprehensive while agile and ultimately, right. This will set the foundation for sustaining units to fight and win.
2. Sustainable Readiness
The Sustainable Readiness Model reduces readiness “peaks and valleys” in our formations and allows our forces to respond whenever, wherever needed. For the model to work, our soldiers and units must once again take responsibility for maintaining and sustaining their equipment; no longer can our forces rely on contractor support or field service representatives to provide sustainment in garrison or on the battlefield.
Our soldiers need a sense of pride and ownership of their equipment. To achieve sustainable readiness, leaders must enforce standards and discipline, be experts in our processes, and ensure soldiers across the formation are trained and equipped to sustain on the battlefield. We have the tools to meet this objective. This strategic objective drives us forward in making sustainable readiness a core function of our Army once again.
3. Materiel Readiness
As the Army’s lead materiel integrator, Army Materiel Command manages the global supply chain, and synchronizes logistics activities across the Army. While automation and tools such as the Materiel Common Operating Picture have enabled commanders to gain predictive readiness and an unmatched view of materiel across their units, we still have room to mature our systems and find efficiencies across the supply chain.
We can start by working closely with the Defense Logistics Agency to streamline our warehouses and stocks. We have equipment now to fill shortages across the Army’s formations, but we must be able to identify it, maintain it in a ready state, process and move it to the appropriate units quickly and cost-efficiently. Doing so will also give us a better picture of, and allow us to divest, the excess on hand that is both a readiness distractor and resource drain.
We must also align workload in our depots, arsenals and ammunition plants to unit readiness, rapidly acquiring capabilities to meet materiel and sustainment needs while divesting those systems no longer required. Working toward a ready Army means we must get even better across our supply chain.
4. Force Projection
Our military’s strategic advantage remains our ability to overcome the logistical difficulties inherent in projecting our forces forward and sustaining them. Yet no one organization or commander has full responsibility for the force projection process. Combatant commands determine requirements. Forces Command organizes forces for deployment. The U.S. Transportation Command coordinates and provides the means for movement. Army Materiel Command, meanwhile, owns the logistics readiness centers that manage the projection, providing the critical link to pulling it all together.
Our Army is better served and, more importantly, ready when we can synchronize force projection, including resourcing and prioritization, and effectively, efficiently and quickly deploy our forces forward to achieve Army objectives.
5. Battlefield Sustainment
Our Army needs the organic ability to deploy, execute missions, and sustain ourselves on the battlefield. We must plan, synchronize and integrate, and then be able to echelon sustainment and distribution in support of our maneuver formations.
Effective Mission Command enables Army Materiel Command to optimize battlefield sustainment and solidify a single “face-to-the-field” through the U.S. Army Sustainment Command. ASC is the materiel executor synchronizing, integrating and prioritizing readiness capabilities. Their Army field support brigades provide brigade combat team commanders with a single point of entry into Army Materiel Command’s expansive portfolio of capabilities, increasing responsiveness to warfighter needs and requirements, and our Army’s ability to sustain at the point of need.
6. Materiel Development
From research and development to contracting, and sustainment to final disposition, Army Materiel Command touches every phase of the materiel life cycle. We are the primary executor of the Army’s science and technology budget, with 12,000 scientists and engineers developing next-generation technologies that will equip our forces for years to come. Where we must improve is ensuring those technologies and developments match the true requirements on the battlefield and achieve an end state to defeat our adversaries. By aligning our science and technology investments and leveraging organic prototyping at our research, development and engineering centers, we save critical resources and, more importantly, deliver capabilities that our soldiers require.
Key to materiel development is factoring in sustainment costs that will add up over the course of equipment’s life cycle up front in the acquisition process. The best opportunity to affect life cycle cost is in the design phase of the system; sustainment must be addressed in all materiel requirements documents and during all phases of development.
It has been said that nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. If we wait for 100 percent concurrence and consensus to move forward, progress will be slow and readiness will stall. The conditions are set to move now.
A focus on these strategic objectives ensures our output—the hard work of the 64,000 dedicated professionals who make up Army Materiel Command—is aligned to meet Army requirements. My intent for Army Materiel Command is to sustain the current-to-future force by utilizing state-of-the-art technologies, materiel life cycle support and integrated logistics while ensuring materiel and technological overmatch. These lines of effort help us achieve that goal.
Readiness is the Army’s No. 1 priority, and materiel readiness is the reason Army Materiel Command exists. We will synchronize and integrate our total capabilities in support of Army requirements and objectives, and aligned with our partners at TRADOC and Forces Command.