ILW Torchbearer: Delivering Materiel Readiness
The 21st century security environment—volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous—presents enormous challenges to the joint force. Future trends forecast a continued migration of the world’s populations to urban areas and megacities, a reemergence of nationalistic and religious fervor, a direct or indirect transfer of technology from governments to terrorist organizations and an extension of conflict into cyber and space domains. Ensuring national security continues to require a whole-of-government approach involving not only the military element of power but also economic, diplomatic and informational elements.
One of the unique game-changers that America possesses is the capability and capacity to sustain campaigns worldwide in multiple theaters. Key to this sustainment is a national-level visibility of assets and resources together with a strategically responsive system and infrastructure for delivery. For the joint force to be effective requires national-level materiel readiness that facilitates the force’s agility, adaptability and versatility. The U.S. Army currently provides approximately 40 percent of the sustainment contributions to the joint force. Consequently, the Army’s materiel readiness is a critical component of the ability of the joint force—and thus the nation—to protect the vital interests of the United States.
To meet these challenges, the Army must possess capabilities that are tailorable, scalable and rapidly deployable to provide the nation’s leadership with multiple options for the projection of U.S. power. Readiness of the current force is the first priority, not only at the tactical level but also at the operational and strategic levels of operations. Army logisticians are challenged as never before to equip and sustain expeditionary U.S. forces and provide overmatch capability in some of the world’s most inaccessible regions. For example, the Pacific is especially demanding, given its vast distances, the length of the supply chain and the technological advancements and access-denial capabilities of current and potential adversaries.
As the Army provides and sustains materiel readiness for the joint force, it does so in an era of unprecedented fiscal austerity. To remain agile, adaptive and efficient, Army senior logisticians must reengineer industrial and sustainment operations, beginning with the Army’s organic industrial base (OIB), to preserve critical government manufacturing capabilities and enable the rapid buildup of combat power.1 The Army is transforming its OIB by embracing enterprise resource planning (ERP) as a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to the previous “order, then expedite” approach. Its deployable logistics modernization program (LMP) is the centerpiece of efforts to achieve asset visibility and accountability at the national level. This lays the foundation for developing two critical capabilities for the future—the ability to erect small, expeditionary manufacturing and fabrication facilities much closer to the battle space and the ability to repair/refit/manufacture critical equipment and weapons on a smaller scale—to reduce the length and cost of the Army’s supply chain. The next step is for the Army to effectively and efficiently enhance asset visibility and, therefore, the capacity to be strategically responsive now and in the future.