Logistics Won’t Be Easy in Future Fights

Logistics Won’t Be Easy in Future Fights

Apaches readied for shipment
Photo by: U.S. Army

A new cross-functional team focused on contested logistics will get after a critical capability for the Army, senior leaders said.

“We can’t do what we do without logistics,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee during a March 30 hearing on the service’s fiscal 2024 budget request. “We’re seeing it play out in Ukraine.”

Creation of the new cross-functional team was announced March 29 by Gen. James Rainey, commander of Army Futures Command, at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition. The team, the Army’s ninth, is being stood up in partnership with Army Materiel Command, and it will be based in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Army’s ability to sustain the force under pressure will be critical on the future battlefield, leaders said. For two decades, the Army was able to move supplies, fuel and other critical equipment to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan without any type of enemy contact, McConville said. In the future, “we know that’s not going to be the case,” McConville said. “It’s not going to be the case in the Pacific if we have to fight in the Pacific.”

One critical capability the Army is building is its pre-positioned stocks, McConville said. “We can’t assume we’re going to be able to just sail across the seas safely,” he said. “So, we want to position equipment and ammunition in the theater. We need to disperse it. We need to protect it.”

Tanks, artillery pieces and aircraft become “expensive paperweights” without fuel, parts and ammunition, he said. “All that is part of what this contested logistics is about,” he said.

The Army also expects cyberattacks as it tries to move equipment and supplies. “We’re going to have to protect our systems, … and we’re going to have to basically fight our way across,” McConville said.

To start filling some gaps, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, the Army’s 2024 budget request includes funding for watercraft and pre-positioned stocks, McConville said. “These weapon systems, without fuel, without parts, without bullets, do not perform their duties, so we’re working that very hard, and we think it’s very important,” he said.

The future fight is going to take place on a “very complex battlefield,” McConville said. “This is the new fight,” he said, “and we’ve built new doctrine, we’re building new organizations, to get after it.”