Army Logisticians: Providing Materiel Readiness
Christianson, Claude V., Army
Army logisticians deployed throughout the world continue to successfully support the global war on terrorism. The Army's integrated logistics team of soldiers, civilians and contractors-from those working in the research and development community, industry and wholesale supply, to the soldiers delivering supplies to the front lines-is operating day and night to ensure that the joint force commanders' needs are met. Simultaneously, the logistics community is applying available resources towards filling the gaps in capability revealed during the past two and a half years of war.
With a few notable exceptions, Army logistics systems, procedures and organizations were not ideally suited to support the rapid combat operations that characterized the vast Iraqi battlefield. The exceptional ability of logisticians everywhere to overcome obstacles has enabled us to better understand today's battlefield and the resulting implications for logistics Transformation.
Today's battlefield is characterized by widely dispersed operations, noncontiguous battle space, nonsecure lines of communications and rapidly changing task organizations. These characteristics demand a change in the way that the Army sustains joint forces. To address the challenge, the logistics community identified three fundamental imperatives. First, we must be able to "see" the operational requirements in real time-anywhere. second, we must be able to respond to those requirements with speed and precision. Third, we must be able to rapidly open a theater in support of the National Military Strategy.
In December 2003, the Army G-4 released the Army Logistics white paper, "Delivering Materiel Readiness to the Army," that now serves as the baseline to achieve these three imperatives. There are four distinct, but interrelated objectives outlined in the paper: to sustain combat power, we must have the ability to see requirements on-demand through a logistics information network; we must develop a responsive and reliable distribution system enabled by in-transit and total asset visibility and managed by a single owner who has positive end-to-end control in the theater; the Army needs a robust, modular force-reception capability-a dedicated and trained organization able to quickly open a theater and support flexible, continuous sustainment throughout the joint operations area; and last, we need an integrated supply chain that will allow us to effectively leverage all sustainment resources in a joint, interagency and multinational theater. The Army G-4 has led a campaign to communicate these focus areas throughout the Army and across joint logistics communities, industry and academia. To accurately define requirements and prioritize resources, the G-4 also established four corresponding integrated process teams (IPTs).
The "connect our logisticians" IPT was established to take advantage of information technology allowing Army logisticians to see requirements on the battlefield and enabling supported units to see the support that is coming their way. The Army G-4, with invaluable assistance from the Army G-6, the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), the Combined Armed Services Command (CASCOM) and others, has worked for the past year to field a combat service support (CSS) networked communication solution. This solution included the CSS automated information system interface (CAISI) and a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite communications antenna. Together they provide 24-7 connectivity, enabling the passage of critical sustainment data and information between logistics nodes across the battlefield and the industrial base. This connection is fundamental to the successful integration of the supply chain and distribution management. The network solution will eliminate existing fissures along the entire sustainment enterprise. The technology was proven during Operation Iraqi Freedom and is now being fielded to all units as they deploy or convert to modularity. …