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by LTC Chip Carroll, Senior FSB O/C

In response to a recent trend toward compartmentalized logistics, the CMTC has developed a functional After-Action Review (AAR) designed to proof CSS systems at all levels.

Historically, maneuver units, support battalions and brigades have conducted separate CSS AARs. While each addressed the critical Man, Arm, Fuel, and Fix functions, no single forum covered entire logistical systems, crossing all boundaries from crew to Division base. CSS operations had become independent and not mutually supporting, often resulting in unclear requirements and inadequate resources. Logisticians at company, task force and brigade levels found it easy to talk past problems that were not their immediate responsibility.

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The functional AAR provides a forum in which logisticians may break down the barriers that compartmentalize their operations and integrate efforts within the brigade.

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Quite simply, logisticians from company, task force, support battalion and brigade come together for a complete check of a logistical system. Attendees include all those personnel responsible for any aspect of operational logistics, including commanders, staff, technicians and, in the case of a recent functional maintenance AAR, a tank crew.

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An example of how it works:

1. Beginning with the crew of B-13, a M1A1 main battle tank, soldiers describe in detail their maintenance responsibilities and actions during an equipment failure.

2. Company, Task Force and Maintenance Support Team personnel then trace how they handle reporting of the failure, requisitions, recovery and repair plans.

3. The Battalion Maintenance Technician, the Task Force S-4 and XO, followed by the Support Operations Officer of the FSB describe, in systemic terms, what "right" should look like, and where they saw breaks in the chain of actions.

4. The FSB Commander and Brigade Commander provide doctrinal input, while the Task Force, Support Battalion and Brigade Observer/Controller facilitate the discussion, in turn, with critical observations and data collected by their teams. At the conclusion of the AAR, the Brigade Commander captures the intent perfectly by stating, "maintenance consists of numerous binary switches, any one of which, if left off, can stop the system. We have looked at every switch today, and found the ones that have stopped our program. Now they have all been switched on."

Granted, AAR preparation by the O/Cs and player unit participation in this AAR cost time and effort; however, the pay off proves very high. Participants leave the AAR with a thorough understanding of their maintenance system, receive clarification of both internal and external procedures and accomplish an extraordinary amount of team building. More importantly, from crew to brigade, soldiers understand how the things they did contributed to the overall success of the entire
system - - the "why" of disk turn-in and 5988E flow becomes clear to all.

A second example:

1. Extremely high died of wounds (DOW) rates caused concern among a Brigade's senior leadership. A functional AAR addressing Health Service Support was conducted by assembling medics from the Task Force's Battalion Aid Station, the Forward Support Battalion staff and the Corps Evacuation Battalion (Air and Ground Ambulances), and the Brigade Staff.

2. Again, the systems of treatment and evacuation were traced from self aid/buddy aid, through company aidman to FSMC, and evacuation to a Corps hospital.

3. Each O/C team participated with observations and facilitated the process as the entire combat health support (CHS) system was unfolded.

4. As with the maintenance AAR, a great deal of discovery learning, SOP refinement and team building took place. The lessons on the critical role of the Brigade S-3 Air in Army airspace command and control, and particular needs of Corps Evacuation Battalion proved invaluable and the system improved profoundly in less then 24 hours.

5. Systems worked, once every member of the CHS team interlocked their effort.


1. Cooperation among and between observer/controller teams in the planning, preparation, and execution of the functional AAR.

2. The willingness of training units' leadership to invest the time and effort to fix system problems, and understanding key leaders and technicians will leave station for a period of time to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

3. Ensuring the AAR does not take a "we-they" tone. Use doctrine, SOPs, mission training plans and re-enforce the interdependence of all members of the team throughout the process.

AAR sites can include a fully instrumented facility, field remote site or even the Brigade or FSB briefing tent. Video and audio cuts can be very instructive, but are not required. The most important components are the key players, a desire to improve, and timely, professional facilitation. It is important to remember that failure to meet an Army standard in any logistical system can prove both positive and constructive, if approached as a challenge both to individuals, sections, and the brigade teams at large. The functional AAR has great application at Home Station. All brigade players can proof their CSS systems before a CTC deployment using the functional approach. EXAMPLE: A support platoon exercise, incorporating the FSB, under the control of the Brigade staff, could approximate the connectivity required for operational logistics. The Brigade S-4, XO, or the FSB Commander could conduct a standard Man, Arm, Fuel, Fix AAR for the Task Force, FSB players and staff. The potential for team building, and the development of an appreciation for the interdependence in CSS operations will assist in improving all aspects of support in the brigade.

Like combat operations, CSS requires trust and teamwork - -both of which evolve from the functional AAR.

Combat Health Support Synchronization and Rehearsals
Appendix A: List of Acronyms

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