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How Army logistics help Soldiers maintain strategic advantage

By Megan Gully September 27, 2018

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- A year of monumental change to the Army's structure brought an opportunity for introspection and evolution. For the materiel enterprise, that meant taking an in-depth look at how the Army sustains the force.

"Soldiers cannot win on the battlefield without weapons to shoot, tanks to maneuver, food to eat and the logistics support to ensure those provisions get to the right place at the right time," said Gen. Gus Perna, Army Materiel Command's commanding general and the Army's senior logistician. "Without those critical elements of materiel readiness, we lose our strategic advantage."

Perna will lead the discussion on "Sustaining the Force" as part of a Contemporary Military Forum at the Association of the United States Army's Annual Meeting and Exposition Oct. 9. He will be joined by the following leaders:
-Maj. Gen. Duane Gamble, commander, Army Sustainment Command
-Maj. Gen. Dan Mitchell, commander, Tank-automotive and Armaments Command
-Maj. Gen. Rodney Fogg, commander, Combined Armed Support Command
-Erwin Bieber, BAE Systems' Platforms and Services Section
-Retired Lt. Gen. James Pillsbury, U.S. Army

After nearly two decades of counterinsurgency warfare, and amidst the largest change to the Army's force structure with the establishment of Army Futures Command, the Army's materiel enterprise has focused efforts on reinvigorating the supply chain to better equip Army Soldiers.

"Through innovation and proactive forward thinking, the Army and Army Materiel Command are determining how can we provide the most responsive support and maximize our sustainment capabilities to best support the Soldier," said Army Materiel Command's Deputy Commander, Lt. Gen. Ed Daly.

According to the Army's multi-domain operations doctrine, the future battlefield will be highly contested and reliance on forward operating bases will diminish, requiring the sustainment force to be more agile and predictive.

"Training is the foundation, and we build from there," Daly said. "If we train our sustainment leaders and Soldiers well, then they will enable our Army to dominate the battle space."

A challenge the Army faces is that many young leaders do not understand the entirety of the materiel enterprise, said Fogg.

"We need our sustainers to visualize the battlefield from the front lines all the way back to the Army Materiel Command; that is essential for the sustainment force," Fogg said.

A key enabler of the materiel enterprise is the Army's Organic Industrial Base -- 23 manufacturing arsenals, maintenance depots and ammunition plants.

"From factory and fort to foxhole, when the force needs equipment or parts manufactured, repaired, upgraded or modernized, the Army's Organic Industrial Base delivers," Daly said. "We must continue to take a hard look at the output of each installation."

To ensure Army readiness, the enterprise will continue to focus on its global logistics reach, which includes boosting Equipment on Hand rates by moving millions of pieces of equipment to the right units and strategically located Army Prepositioned Stocks around the world.

"AMC is increasing materiel readiness and supply availability by building the depth, breadth and velocity of the global supply chain," Daly said. "It's not just about efficiency; it's about taking a good introspective look at how we operate in order to get better."

To increase combat readiness around the world, APS configurations are changing from combat-capable to combat-configured to enable the rapid employment of units drawing APS, said Gamble.

"Maintaining and configuring APS equipment in a combat-configured state increases readiness and enables deploying units to rapidly draw and employ APS," said Gamble. "It reduces intra-theater distribution requirements, timelines to assemble APS unit sets from storage to issue configuration, and the amount of time the gaining unit spends in the tactical assembly area installing and configuring equipment. This leads to rapid employment of forces once on the ground."

As the Army undergoes its biggest transformation in decades, Daly said it is important that sustainers and logisticians understand the continued importance of their role.

"The bottom line is as sustainers, we enable readiness and lethality," Daly said. "If we are doing our jobs right, in any of aspects of large scale combat operations, we reduce operational risk."

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