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Strategic flexibility moves personnel and equipment around the world

Friday, June 01, 2012

AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare has released a new publication – "Third Army: Empowering Theater Responsiveness by Synchronizing Operational Maneuver" (Torchbearer Issue Paper, March 2012) – which discusses the operational drawdown from Iraq and the implications for the future Army logistics and sustainment environment.

The United States’ ability to move personnel and equipment around the world is the foundation of strategic flexibility and allows the U.S. Army to fulfill its Title 10 responsibilities.

As the Army transitions from Iraq and Afghanistan, it must build on the lessons learned from a decade in conflict and apply that knowledge to the emerging security environment.

The operational retrograde of forces from Iraq at the end of 2011 is an example the level of sustainment proficiency required for modern war.

Over the course of two years, Third U.S. Army/U.S. Army Central and U.S. Forces–Iraq managed a significant joint, interagency operation to redeploy, redistribute or dispose of all of the equipment, property and installations leftover from eight years of combat in Iraq.

Moreover, this was done while supporting simultaneous surge operations in Afghanistan. The scale and scope of property disposition within such a compressed timeline produced an effort that rivaled any seen since World War II and highlighted the advantages of a mature theater with secure and substantial logistical facilities.

Going forward, the Army will have to address the challenges of the Afghanistan theater that has few of the operational and geographic benefits enjoyed by the Iraq theater.

The Army should reflect on these operations and develop a sustainment scheme that fits future operations stressing agility, flexibility and small footprints not tied to existing sustainment centers.

The Army must examine its sustainment operations in the context of procurement, organic capabilities and contract management; the joint and interagency environment of the future will require greater fiscal oversight.

Third U.S. Army’s retrograde from Iraq is an example of the sustainment expertise accumulated over the past decade; however, the Army as a whole must prepare for the future and for how it will deliver the operational and logistical force multipliers. (Go to www.ausa.org – "Torchbearer")