Sustainment Requires Keeping to the Right: Right Place, Right Time, Right Inventory
Logistics and the Army’s ability to sustain forces in the fight have given the U.S. a strategic advantage on the battlefield for decades. As we prepare to operate simultaneously across multiple domains—land, sea, air, space and cyberspace—the requirement for these capabilities will increase in complexity and importance.
We must execute precision logistics and provide a reliable, agile and responsive sustainment capability to support rapid power projection and independent maneuver across contingencies and operations. The Multi-Domain Operations concept defines the strategic support area as the space where joint logistics and sustainment functions emanate. It is where combat power is generated and projected into the support, close and deep areas. As such, dominance in the strategic support area is the focus and priority of the materiel enterprise.
To that end, the critical resources of the materiel enterprise are focused in seven key areas: installation readiness, supply availability and equipment readiness, munitions readiness, strategic power projection, industrial base readiness, soldier and family readiness, and logistics information.
Our installations are our Army’s epicenter, the hubs where soldiers work, train and live; the readiness of our installations directly correlates with the readiness of our Army. Within installation readiness, a top priority is adapting our posts, camps and stations to operate in a contested environment. Our installations—at home and abroad—must be resilient and self-sustaining against enemy threats. From infrastructure upgrades to energy independence, we are focused on securing and upgrading installations, where readiness starts.
Supply availability and equipment readiness are the foundation of materiel readiness, ensuring soldiers and units have the right equipment, parts and materiel to achieve their mission—anytime, anyplace. In the past two years, the Army has laterally transferred more than 620,000 pieces of equipment, moving it to the right units to increase readiness and build the Army’s focused units, including new brigade combat teams and security force assistance brigades. During that same time, we divested more than 1 million pieces of equipment, freeing up storage space, avoiding the cost of future storage and unburdening units from maintaining obsolete equipment.
Looking ahead, we are focused on identifying and divesting even more excess, driving additional cost avoidance and, more importantly, saving valuable time for our maintainers and supply personnel.
Working With Industry
Meanwhile, to better maintain our equipment, we work closely with industry to develop and apply a predictive maintenance capability. The goal is to identify and predict mechanical failures in advance to build better depth, breadth and velocity in the supply chain in support of tactical unit needs to extend the time and reach for protracted operations. Across all classes of supply, including Class VIII medical supplies and Class IX repair parts, the global supply chain must propel supply availability.
To ensure munitions readiness, we must have the right munitions—from small-caliber ammunition to ballistic missiles—positioned in the right places, including a ready and reliable stockpile, to respond to contingencies wherever they may occur. Priorities in munitions readiness include optimizing the receipt, storage and issue of munitions to reduce costs to the joint force. We must synchronize munitions production with on-hand stocks and operational requirements.
Through the Patriot Express initiative, we are using the Total Army, capitalizing on National Guard and Reserve forces to move munitions point to point for stateside training missions. This minimizes second-destination transportation costs while providing valuable, practical training. We are also strategically positioning munitions globally and stateside to enable flexibility and speed in responding to combatant commander requirements for decisive operations.
Faster Unit Response
Investments in strategic power projection ensure our ability to rapidly project our forces forward. The most critical priority in strategic power projection is ensuring Army pre-positioned stocks (APS) are positioned and sized to meet combatant command requirements and provide speedy response for contingency operations. We have made great progress with APS combat configuration, equipping sets with combat enablers such as communications, modernized weapons and counter-IED systems to expedite units’ movement to the line of departure. This effort has reduced the time to fall in on equipment by more than two weeks and significantly reduces the amount of strategic airlift previously required.
Our strategic power projection capability at home depends on our railheads, roads, munitions ports and airfields. We must ensure our infrastructure is modernized and capable of supporting high-volume, rapid mobilizations and deployments to expediently and efficiently project our forces.
The Army’s organic industrial base must be able to support today’s equipment and future modernized equipment. Industrial base readiness requires modernizing depots, arsenals and ammunition plants to improve our ability to overhaul and upgrade weapon systems. From machinery to technical competence within the workforce, we are resourcing the organic industrial base to provide the requisite capabilities to support and sustain the next generation of equipment that will be fielded to the force. As we modernize and optimize organic industrial base facilities, we also assure our capability to surge in response to contingencies and react when the national base is called upon.
Commitment to People
The strength of our Army is our soldiers, and the strength of our soldiers is our families. Soldier and family readiness is about our commitment to take care of our people, reducing the burden of military life the Army places on them. We must ensure our limited resources are stretched to maximize those services that soldiers and families rely on most—from Army Community Services to child care. We are finding ways to reduce overhead and cut redundant services that will free up resources that can be redirected to other priority programs. For example, we are working to increase access to quality, affordable and convenient child care services. Soldiers and families depend on and deserve the right services at the right locations.
Finally, underpinning all we do are massive amounts of data, systems and information that provide the ability to better see ourselves and hence, improve the way we do business. Through logistics information, we have better visibility of our equipment across the globe than ever before. Through a network of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, commanders have near-real-time business intelligence to make informed decisions. We must learn to harness and leverage the power of big data by better understanding the resident capabilities within ERPs. We can also find efficiencies and cost savings by streamlining ERPs and eliminating legacy logistics automation information systems. Streamlining systems and moving to the commercial cloud will result in reduced life cycle sustainment costs, increased operational performance and enhanced cyber security.
To be effective, we must ensure our resources are aligned and precisely executed to priorities. This starts with leader involvement and accountability at all echelons. We are focused on ensuring that our logistics and sustainment efforts at the strategic, operational and tactical levels—across all domains—are synchronized and resourced to best meet Army readiness requirements and ultimately, support operations to win our nation’s wars.
Multidomain operations will require extended sustainability of systems and formations along multiple dispersed routes from the strategic support area through the strategic deep fires area. To successfully conduct operations in a highly contested environment, the materiel enterprise must execute progressive expeditionary logistics and sustainment functions seamlessly and expertly.