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Asset Tracking: The SPO Needs to Know
Providing responsive and continuous support

by MAJ Clay W. Mitchell

Too often support operations officers (SPOs) realize there is a problem long after the window of opportunity to correct it is closed. Many times the problem is brought up in the tenant meeting hours later.

The result? A knee-jerk reaction. SPOs are forced to improvise.

Tracking the execution of logistics efforts in the brigade area continues to present a significant challenge to SPOs at Combat Training Centers (CTCs). Too often SPOs fall into the trap of believing their great concepts of support will happen without a system for continuous monitoring. WRONG! The support operations section must have continuous feedback on logistic mission accomplishment, regardless of success or failure.

FM 100-5, Operations, establishes the five logistics characteristics as anticipation, integration, responsiveness, continuity, and improvisation. Responsiveness and continuity should be the forward support battalion SPO's primary focus at the CTCs. Students at CGSC learn that the concept, planning or preparation, execution, and assessment (CPEA) methodology is a principal method of executing the combat decision-making process. If this methodology is executed to standard, we can apply all of the logistics characteristics, especially responsiveness and continuity.

  • Concept Formulation. We routinely see outstanding concepts of support at CTCs. SPOs have done their homework and bring an executable concept into the training.

  • Detailed Planning and Preparation is above average. We often see plans that include great detail. Units are prepared and well rehearsed. Normally, commanders say they have reached the 70-percent solution.

  • Execution of the Operation and all its subtasks is usually done to standard. If the standards are articulated, the mission is usually accomplished.

  • Assessment of Current Operations needs work. SPOs should focus more on assessment. It was mentioned earlier that the mission is usually accomplished to standard. What if it is not? How do SPOs respond? How do SPOs ensure there is continuous support?

Assessment is a continuous process. If SPOs do not make accurate assessments of the execution, the follow-on concept and planning process will be out of synch, and they will be sorting out problems which happened days ago that affect the next day's operation.

EXAMPLE: A morning conversation in the SPO van:

SPO -- "Good morning, any problems last night?"
Night SPO rep -- "Yes sir, we'll be amber in fuel at LD."
SPO -- "How can that be? We had 12K being pushed out by corps at 2400."
Night SPO rep -- "Yes sir, it made it fine, but TF Steel didn't arrive to draw fuel until 0200."
SPO -- "But I had them scheduled to draw fuel at 2200."
Night SPO rep -- "Yes sir, but they didn't get back from LOGPAC until real late."
SPO -- "Did they have problems returning to the BSA?"
Night SPO rep -- "No sir, they got back fine, but they left the BSA about four hours late going to the LOGPAC."
SPO -- "So let me get this straight. The BCT is amber in fuel because of a convoy delay that happened over 12 hours ago and we didn't know until just now? We could have made some adjustments. Why didn't someone tell us?
Night SPO rep -- "Well sir, we never asked."


1. SPOs who assume that critical support missions happen because they planned them and hope that all missions were accomplished have a long, painful training experience.

2. SPOs who establish a tracking system for critical information have the situational awareness needed to respond to potential shortfalls and have an enjoyable training experience.

Following are a few questions the SPO needs to ask to coordinate CSS operations in accordance with ARTEP 63-005, Collective Task 63-1-0015:

  • Is the supply platoon ready to receive the Class III, V, or I push at the time stated in the order?
  • Did the Class III, V, or I push arrive as scheduled by DISCOM? Did it have the correct amount and type of supplies?
  • Are the customers at the correct location, with the correct personnel and equipment, at the time stated in the order?
  • Did the customers leave the supply point with what they needed?
  • Did the material handling equipment (MHE) (with operator) link-up with the engineer representative at the correct time and place?
  • Is the mass casualty (MASCAL) team linked up with the ambulance platoon leader?
  • Is the ambulance exchange point (AXP) established at the time and place stated in the order?
  • Did the logistics package (LOGPAC) SP on time?
  • Did the engine make it to the unit maintenance collection point (UMCP)?
  • Did the tank that was supposed to become fully mission capable no later than 0500 actually become operational?
  • Did all the unit level logistics system (ULLS) daily inoperable disks get turned in to the shop office on time?
  • Did all the ULLS supply disks get turned in to the transportation supply officer (TSO)?
  • Did your customers pick up all their parts from the Class IX point? (Even those pesky 12 priority parts?)

This is not to say that every time a supply platoon truck starts or a status disk gets is received the SPO needs to know about it. However, many changes to those detailed support orders have a ripple effect, and the SPO needs to know about them as soon as possible.

The best technique uses a combination of all of the above. Decide what information you need and develop a system with standards that all concerned will know and can execute.

Obviously, these are just a few examples of the information required by the SPO, as well as techniques to retrieve the information. Unfortunately, SPOs do not often get these simple, yet important pieces of information. Combat arms personnel know if the platoon crossed the line of departure (LD) at the right time or if the mortars shot their critical fire support task. Why can't SPOs track critical support tasks? LD is a lousy time to find out that yesterday's Class V push was short 1,000 mortar rounds.

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