The Deployment Imperative

by Peter J. Higgins

Members of the U.S. military today face many unknowns, such as when and where they will be called upon to use military power next and if that call will be for a combat operation, humanitarian aid, or something in between. The size, structure, and capabilities of our military forces are based on the potential threats they face and the funding they receive from Congress. Currently, the most likely hotspots are Korea and the Middle East, so the United States has stationed sizeable forces in those locations and has pre-positioned stocks of war materiel nearby. Our military forces have plans in place and are prepared to fight in those two areas if necessary. However, there is no certainty they ever will mobilize in either location. Forces could be deployed to other sites where the United States has no forward presence and for which minimal planning has been done.

If we knew with absolute certainty who, when, where, how long, or even if we will fight, our problems of getting adequate sustainable forces in place quickly would be much easier. Because today's preparations to meet these challenges will affect future readiness, the United States must remain vigilant to both the future and current threat environments.

In recent years, the United States has transformed its military from a large forward-deployed force, with hundreds of thousands of troops stationed overseas, to a smaller power-projection force. Some functions previously performed by active-duty forces have been transferred to the reserve components or vice versa. There are many reasons for this transformation, but they probably can be summarized in one word—money.

While the size and structure of our military have changed, there has not been a commensurate reduction in requirements. Our country's National Security Strategy, published in December 1999, states, "Our strategy is founded on continued U.S. engagement and leadership abroad . . . We cannot lead abroad unless we devote the necessary resources to military, diplomatic, intelligence, and other efforts." Addressing military activities, the strategy continues, "Strategic mobility is a key element of our strategy."

This means that to carry out our National Security Strategy, the Department of Defense must have the airlift and sealift necessary to move a military force overseas quickly to support a combatant commander and the National Command Authorities when necessary. Moving a force and sustaining it is called "deployment," and the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) is responsible for developing the deployment process and ensuring that it works. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders have primary responsibility for planning the employment of forces.

Because the size of our military has decreased while the requirements and operating tempo have not, we increasingly rely on private industry, contractors on the battlefield, and pre-positioned equipment. Each of the services and the Defense Logistics Agency has equipment, fuel, and ammunition pre-positioned strategically around the globe. Some of these pre-positioned stocks are land-based, and some are stored on ships capable of moving quickly toward a trouble spot. This capability is critical to fulfilling the quick-deployment requirement.

Many elements of deployment are explained and discussed in the Joint Course on Logistics presented by the Army Logistics Management College (ALMC) at Fort Lee, Virginia, on behalf of the Joint Staff Director for Logistics (J4). The course addresses such deployment topics as the Joint Operations Planning and Execution System, USTRANSCOM, the Joint Deployment Process, the Transportation Coordinators' Automated Information for Movement System II, and the Joint Force Requirements Generator II. If you are not familiar with these organizations and systems, your background as a professional logistician is incomplete, regardless of your branch of service or specialty.

Logisticians involved in the deployment process need to know and understand the changes taking place in this vital area if the United States is to fulfill its National Security Strategy. How much do you know about the Time-Phased Force Deployment Data System? How knowledgeable are you about the mandate General Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has placed on the Armed Forces to deploy a brigade-sized unit anywhere in the world in 96 hours, a division within 5 days, and five divisions within 30 days? This is power projection, and it is difficult to achieve. Each step of the process must be accomplished correctly if the whole process is to succeed. Therefore, each player must know and understand the requirements of all other participants.

If you would like to learn more about the Joint Deployment Process and joint logistics, the Joint Course on Logistics may be for you. For more information, call (804) 765-0285, send an e-mail to ruggieroa@, or visit ALMC's home page at http:// ALOG

Peter J. Higgins is a logistics management specialist at the Army Logistics Management College, Fort Lee, Virginia, where he is an instructor for the Joint Course on Logistics. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Roanoke College in Virginia.