Jan - Feb 2012: Article

Back to the Future: Relearning Sustainment and Force Protection for Full-Spectrum Operations

The 1st Sustainment Brigade developed a campaign plan to help the brigade focus on how to achieve its strategic and operational objectives.

The 1st Sustainment Brigade deployed from Fort Riley, Kansas, to Kuwait in early spring 2010 and embarked on its mission as the Kuwait-based theater sustainment brigade. There it assumed responsibility for the largest retrograde mission since World War II.

To inspire the brigade, known as the "Durable Brigade," and prepare it for this monumental task, the brigade commander assembled some of his key leaders and staff, including the deputy commander, support operations officer (SPO), and operations officer, to develop a plan to focus and synchronize actions and emphasize unity of effort.

Soldiers from the 1st Sustainment Brigade
(Photo by SFC Matthew Veasley)

Planning Efforts
When we think of campaign plans or planning efforts, we conjure up images of service members in World War II, the Vietnam War, and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm being stuck in rooms draped with maps on the floors and walls. However, Field Manual (FM) 3–0, Operations, defines a campaign as a "series of related major operations aimed at achieving strategic and operational objectives within a given time and space." Therefore, a campaign plan is a document that depicts how a unit will achieve its strategic and operational objectives.

Campaign plans are normally found at the operational level—expeditionary sustainment commands (ESCs), theater sustainment commands (TSCs), or division headquarters—and the strategic level. Rarely do we find campaign plans at the tactical level (brigade or below). The 1st Sustainment Brigade, in its role as the Kuwait-based theater sustainment brigade, broke new ground among the Army's 14 active-duty sustainment brigades with its sustainment brigade campaign plan initiative.

Durable Campaign Plan

Sustainment LOO

Antoine-Henri Jomini

Developing the Durable Campaign Plan
To facilitate the synchronization of efforts, the brigade SPO sat down with me, the SPO chief of plans, and crafted what would later become known as the "Durable campaign plan." FM 3–0 describes a line of operation (LOO) as "a line that defines the directional orientation of a force in time and space in relation to the enemy and links the force with its base of operations and objectives." The Durable campaign plan had three LOOs:

  • Operations (supporting effort).
  • Sustainment (main effort).
  • Resiliency (supporting effort).

Each LOO had an assigned officer primarily responsible for it. The operations officer was responsible for the operations LOO, the SPO was responsible for the sustainment LOO, and the deputy commander was responsible for the resiliency LOO.

Resiliency was a key component in our quest to maintain our Soldiers' well-being. The resiliency LOO reminded us of one of Napoleon's maxims, "Moral is to physical, as three is to one." It was imperative that we never discount the importance of this to combat operations.

The three LOOs defined the path to achieve the end state, which included having theater sustainment capabilities in place to support full-spectrum operations, having continued support for retrograde operations, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom expansion, and increasing the 1st Sustainment Brigade's capacity to support 1st TSC operations.

FM 3–0 defines a line of effort (LOE) as a line that "links multiple tasks and missions using the logic of purpose—cause and effect—to focus efforts toward establishing operational and strategic conditions." Officers primarily responsible for LOOs developed LOEs within their specific LOOs to create synergy for the Durable campaign plan and provide linkage between current and future operations. Each LOE was color coded as strategic, operational, or tactical to focus the brigade efforts based on the level of operations.

Sustainment as the Main Effort
How often do you hear that sustainment is the main effort during offensive, defensive, or stability operations? Your answer is probably "never." However, to support retrograde operations of this magnitude, priorities had to change. FM 3–0 defines sustainment as the "provision of the logistics, personnel services and health service support necessary to maintain operations until mission accomplishment." This definition provided the cornerstone and purpose for the development of the campaign plan. The 1st Sustainment Brigade ensured that the sustainment LOO, with its 4 LOEs supported by 15 sub-LOEs, became the main effort and was nested 2 levels up and down.

Weekly Key Focus Briefing
In order to highlight the operational focus for each week on the sustainment LOO, I highlighted and briefed at least 1 of the 15 sub-LOEs and actions or steps taken to address a specific LOE. This method, through the use of the cognitive hierarchy (which, according to FM 6–0, Mission Command, is "a model used to explain the progressive transformation of data into understanding"), provided the synergy needed for the 1st Sustainment Brigade commander to understand, visualize, describe, and direct operations. The key to success was the unity of effort among the 1st Sustainment Brigade leaders, brigade staff, and all subordinate battalion leaders and staffs.

Information Operations as an Enabler
FM 3–13, Information Operations: Doctrine, Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, defines information operations as the "the employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to affect or defend information and information systems." The 1st Sustainment Brigade SPO effects officer was responsible for the integration of information operations into the campaign plan and sustainment operations.

The Durable campaign plan was nested with both the 1st TSC and U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) campaign plans. It directly supported 12 of the 17 Title 10 responsibilities of ARCENT. While campaign planning efforts in a sustainment brigade may be an arduous task, with the right leadership, command emphasis, and focus, it can pay big dividends in the synchronization of the unit.

Lieutenant Colonel Tyrone C. Bentinck was the support operations chief of plans for the 1st Sustainment Brigade at Fort Riley, Kansas. He previously served as the brigade S–4 and support operations officer for the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, during Operation Iraqi Freedom 07–09 and support operations distribution division chief for the 1st Sustainment Brigade during Operation Iraqi Freedom 07–09. He is a graduate of Baruch College, City University of New York, and holds a master of science degree in human relations with a concentration in organization leadership from the University of Oklahoma.


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