Improving the Joint Deployment Process

by Commander Robert C. Bronson, USN

The Department of Defense is working on several fronts to ensure that its deployment capabilities will be ready to support the force-projection requirements of Joint Vision 2020.

At the Joint Deployment Conference held at Fort Eustis, Virginia, in August 1999, Lieutenant General Thomas R. Burnette, the deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), stated, "Deployment has become a national issue, in that our Nation has moved forces back to the continental United States with a commitment to deploy rapidly." Since the end of the Cold War, the Armed Forces have relied increasingly on their force-projection capabilities to respond to a large number of contingencies around the world. They therefore have placed major emphasis on increasing strategic lift capabilities in order to move and sustain forces for contingency operations. Complementary programs to pre-position materiel and supplies globally have lessened strategic mobility requirements. To make the most of these efforts and ensure the success of the force-projection strategy, the Department of Defense (DOD) has undertaken improvements to the joint doctrine, organizations, and information systems needed for planning and managing the deployment process in an effective and efficient manner.

Joint Deployment Process Initiatives

Experience gained during contingency deployments to Southwest Asia, Somalia, Haiti, and the Balkans indicates that the same lessons were relearned during each operation because the responsibilities for improving the deployment process were diffused among many different organizations and not focused on the requirements of the joint force. The individual services are responsible for manning, equipping, training, and sustaining their forces, and they initiated a number of actions to eliminate the problems identified for their parts of the overall deployment process. At the same time, the commanders in chief (CINC's) of the geographic unified combatant commands have command authority over the forces assigned within their areas of responsibility and must plan and manage the deployment of joint forces, usually in a combined environment.

As a result of lessons learned in Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili created the Deployment Process Special Action Group (DPSAG) with a twin purpose: provide a joint focus for the services' deployment initiatives, and enable the unified commands to influence the deployment improvement process directly. In 1997, the DPSAG was institutionalized as the Deployment Division in the Directorate for Logistics (J4) of the Joint Staff. The mission of this division is to oversee, direct, coordinate, and implement needed improvements in the joint deployment process. It serves as the single point of contact on the Joint Staff for the CINC's, the services, and Defense agencies for facilitating force projection-related actions and initiatives, and it provides centralized management to ensure horizontal collaboration on all projects aimed at enhancing deployment capabilities.

One of the first actions of the Deployment Division was to publish Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 3202.01, Deployment Process Improvement. This foundation document contains policies and procedures for identifying, developing, reviewing, approving, and implementing improvements to the deployment process for the Armed Forces. The instruction requires horizontal integration of deployment initiatives through the Joint Planning and Execution Community (JPEC) and calls for aligning deployment improvements with such initiatives as the Joint Warfighting Capabilities Assessment/Joint Requirements Oversight Council process, the Joint Monthly Readiness Review, the Joint After-Action Reporting System, the Joint Universal Lessons Learned System, and the Remedial Action Project program.

This chart illustrates the joint deployment process from CONUS to the overseas theater.
This chart illustrates the joint deployment process from CONUS to the overseas theater.

The instruction tasked the Deployment Division to conduct quarterly meetings on deployment process improvement. These meetings are used to nominate and review new initiatives for action, update and review ongoing actions, evaluate potential recommendations to close actions, and collaboratively develop near- and long-term plans for process improvement and integration within the JPEC. The meetings have evolved into semi-annual joint deployment conferences for action officers and semi-annual video-teleconferences cohosted by the J4 and J3 (the Joint Staff's Directorate for Operations).

Joint actions identified by JPEC participants to improve the joint deployment process are tracked in an electronic format via the Global Command and Control System (GCCS) on the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNET). JPEC participants can gain access to this data base through the J4 Deployment Division home page on the SIPRNET. As of April, 62 deployment process improvements had been identified for action, of which 33 have been implemented.

The Deployment Process

Joint deployment is a dynamic and complex process involving numerous stakeholders and process chains, resulting from the multitude of organizations and functional processes involved in deployment planning and execution. It begins when force-projection planning is initiated—often with the National Command Authorities' directive to execute a mission requiring deployment of forces—and ends when an integrated force arrives at the prescribed destination ready to conduct operations. In its simplest form, the joint deployment process encompasses four primary nodes—point of origin, port of embarkation, port of debarkation, and destination—and three major movement legs—point of origin to port of embarkation, port of embarkation to port of debarkation, and port of debarkation to destination.

Joint force deployment operations consist of four major phases: predeployment activities; movement to activities at the port of embarkation; movement to the port of debarkation; and joint reception, staging, onward movement, and integration. These phases describe the major deployment activities of a joint force from point of origin (post, base, or fort) to a prescribed destination (intermediate staging base, forward operating base, or tactical assembly area) in theater. The phases are continuous and iterative and depend on the commander's concept for employment and changes in mission. Deployment is an operational imperative enhanced and facilitated through logistics planning and support.


In the early stages of the efforts to improve the joint deployment process, a need for joint deployment doctrine was identified. This doctrine would provide details of the deployment and redeployment processes, including their phases, planning, and execution. As a result, Joint Publication (JP) 3-35, Joint Deployment and Redeployment Operations, was approved 7 September 1999. JP 4-01.8, Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (JTTP) for Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration (JRSOI), currently is in draft. These publications are available through the Joint Electronic Library (JP 4-01.8 to authorized users only).

Joint Deployment Process Owner

In August 1997, a white paper was prepared for the JPEC, making the case for a joint deployment process owner. It stated that "to produce a seamless joint deployment process, someone must pull together in a coherent manner DOD's current collection of plans, programs, and organizations for deployment planning and execution. A critical element in a successful process improvement effort, and a critical element in a well-managed process, is an individual who is responsible for process performance." In essence, DOD needed a deployment process owner.

Among candidate process owners, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff readily came to mind because of his statutory responsibilities to develop doctrine for joint employment of the Armed Forces and for preparing joint logistics and mobility plans to support strategic and contingency plans. However, in comparison to other major stakeholders, the Chairman has far fewer resources dedicated to the deployment process.

As the ultimate customer, a supported CINC has the largest stake in improving the deployment process because he has the most to gain when everything works well. By law, he must exercise control over operations in his theater. He needs to control the flow of personnel, equipment, and materiel in and out of his theater. However, it was felt that, if a single geographic CINC was the deployment process owner, the other geographic CINC's would be concerned that the solution reached would be regional rather than global.

Although primarily a supporting CINC, CINCUSJFCOM has responsibilities as joint force integrator, trainer, and provider for the majority of the Nation's combat forces. CINCUSJFCOM therefore could speak for other CINC's from a more global perspective. Consequently, on 23 October 1998, the Secretary of Defense designated the CINCUSJFCOM as the joint deployment process owner for DOD. In this role, the CINCUSJFCOM is responsible for maintaining current effectiveness while leading actions to improve substantially the overall efficiency of deployment-related activities.

In April 1999, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry H. Shelton, proposed the establishment of a time standard for developing Time-Phased Force and Deployment Data (TPFDD) for deployment. This standard would cover the period from notification and receipt by the supported commander of a National Command Authorities decision to completion of validated, level four detail TPFDD for the first 7 days of the mission. (Level four detail is data expressed as number of passengers and as individual dimensional data of cargo by equipment type and unit line number. Cargo dimensions are expressed in length, width, and height in inches.) The capability to execute strategic deployments efficiently and smoothly would be created by using available technology, coupled with sound procedures and good training, to ensure that there are outstanding command and control systems. In a personal message, General Shelton requested the CINCUSJFCOM, as the joint deployment process owner, to recommend a time standard for TPFDD development.

USJFCOM analyzed input from supported warfighting CINC's, the services, and USJFCOM components. This analysis confirmed that current TPFDD development and validation take days or weeks and that gaps in essential mission and requirements information inhibit predeployment coordination and preclude timely TPFDD submissions. CINCUSJFCOM proposed to "raise the bar" and establish an "objective performance standard" for the JPEC that meets the challenges of crisis response. This objective performance standard was a 72-hour standard for TPFDD development and validation that would include level four detail. A 72-hour standard would effectively guide the JPEC toward a "reengineered" deployment process, shape policy and technological applications, support the identification of capability requirements, and optimize the use of strategic-lift assets. General Shelton accepted the 72-hour TPFDD time standard and set an objective of meeting it by October 2000.

Information Systems

On 29 July 1999, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) received a proposal to use two emerging joint deployment information systems in an effort to meet the 72-hour TPFDD time standard for deployment and provide an operational capability in the near term. The JROC, which is composed of the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service vice chiefs of staff, agreed that the Transportation Coordinator's Automated Information for Movement System II (TC-AIMS II) will be the near-term, joint single-source data system and the Joint Force Requirements Generator II (JFRG II) will be the near-term, joint single-source feeder system for capturing and feeding unit movement requirements information into the Joint Operation and Planning Execution System (JOPES). The objective is to construct a joint system architecture for building TPFDD. The JROC also agreed with the recommendation that the Marine Corps become the executive agent for JFRG II. Selection of these two systems was the first step toward meeting the 72-hour TPFDD time standard by October.

The implementation and business processes for these applications are detailed in CJCSI 3020.01, Managing, Integrating, and Using Joint Deployment Information Systems. The intent of this instruction is to transform the joint deployment process from one that is deliberate and sequential to one that is collaborative and provides the supported CINC with appropriate control.

The following initiatives will be the core of the common operational framework for developing future information systems—

Establishment of a single-source data system for unit deployment.

Implementation of advanced technology to transmit and access source data.

Establishment of live, shared data for virtual collaborative planning and execution monitoring.

Development of joint deployment decision support tools.


As mentioned above, TC-AIMS II will be the single source of unit movement information for the JOPES. TC-AIMS II will exchange unclassified unit deployment files with JFRG II.

TC-AIMS II is the result of collaboration between the Armed Forces and the Joint Project Management Office, headed by the Army as executive agent. The goal behind TC-AIMS II is to improve and expedite unit movements and the actions of transportation component commands by providing timely and accurate information for use at all joint deployment community command-levels in support of continental United States (CONUS), outside CONUS, and in-theater joint reception, staging, onward movement, and integration operations.

TC-AIMS II addresses a critical shortfall in DOD transportation movement operations. It will provide unit mobility personnel, embarkation personnel, installation transportation offices, and traffic management offices throughout DOD with a single, effective, and efficient automated information system that supports transportation management of units, passengers, and cargoes during day-to-day operations within the Defense Transportation System. These personnel previously used a variety of service automated systems and manual processes.

The TC-AIMS II system includes software and applications installed on service-provided hardware that support unit movement and sustainment transportation functions and provide access to various load-planning functions. These functions are available to the TC-AIMS II user from a client-server network or stand-alone configuration at the unit or installation level, whether the user is in garrison or deployed. Processing, tracking, and reporting of data from TC-AIMS II will be available to decision makers at various command levels via the in-transit visibility capability of the Global Transportation Network.

Joint Force Requirements Generator II

JFRG II is a TPFDD-editing application designed to satisfy deployment planning and execution requirements, whether the users are at home stations or deployed at remote command centers. JFRG II accelerates the development, sourcing, analysis, and refinement of plans, resulting in rapid creation of TPFDD. Planning response time is decreased through the system's simplicity of design and data base methodologies. Numerous standard deployment-related reports and graphs assist planners during the analysis and refinement phases of TPFDD development as they prepare for a deliberate, crisis action, or exercise deployment and redeployment. JFRG II will import and export TPFDD to and from JOPES.

JFRG II operates on Pentium-based notebook and desktop computers. The standard desktop or notebook used by most planners satisfies the hardware requirement for JFRG II and enables the deployment planner in the field to be involved actively in the TPFDD development process.

During the Joint Deployment Conference last August, when General Burnette challenged the participants to "make deployment a national treasure," he succinctly stressed the three needs of a successful deployment process—

The need to deliver the capabilities at the right time and place to the warfighting CINC.

The need to be flexible.

The need to be collaborative.

In essence, all current efforts to improve the joint deployment process are aimed at meeting these needs. Setting standards will help measure the success of these efforts. The development of a 72-hour TPFDD time standard is the first step toward implementing improvements today that will be aligned with meeting Joint Vision 2010 requirements. It also will provide a target to drive immediate improvements in every aspect of the deployment process, from origin to destination. Setting and meeting this TPFDD time standard will be the first step toward "making deployment a national treasure." ALOG

Commander Robert C. Bronson, USN, is assigned to the Joint Staff, J4, Deployment Division. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida and a master's degree in business administration from Florida Institute of Technology.