HomeAbout UsBrowse This IssueBack IssuesNews DispatchesSubscribing to Army LogisticianWriting for Army LogisticianContact UsLinks














The Iron Mountains of Post-Cold War Interventions

Two weeks before the start of Operation Desert Storm’s ground war, I was pulled from my battalion’s intelligence and operations staff officer position and placed in command of a company in the 530th Supply and Services Battalion, 46th Support Group, 1st Corps Support Command (COSCOM), XVIII Airborne Corps. My predecessor had lost the confidence of the command, so, brand new in the saddle, I faced the challenge of trying to secure the critical unit equipment and supplies needed for combat support operations.

During the weeks that we were posturing troops and supplies for ground operations, the logistics system was unresponsive. Part of our problem was that the bulk of the equipment and supplies we were seeking had been shipped from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and were somewhere in theater. Due to poor in-transit visibility (ITV), total asset visibility (TAV), and logistics intelligence, the company’s shipping containers were lost in the disorder and confusion of overcrowded ports. This condition, which affected many units, was caused by poor force structuring decisions and an infrastructure that lacked sufficient logisticians and equipment to move the materiel from the ports. My situation as a company commander was common throughout the theater. As an interim fix, many units at all levels and of all types reordered the items using high-priority requests and scrounged what they could through other, nonstandard means.

Not having a theater distribution plan (TDP) early on in the process, inadequate automation platforms that resulted in a poor logistics intelligence picture, and a shortage of logisticians caused Soldiers to look for countermeasures to offset the gaps in the operations. At the strategic level, the interim fix was to push tons of nonrequisitioned supplies and equipment into theater. Granted, some of this was welcomed and needed, but too much anticipatory (or “push”) logistics eventually became counterproductive. As a result, stockpiles quickly turned into “iron mountains” with little useful identity. Developing a TDP is one of the first steps that should have been taken at the onset to guide logistics efforts. One finally surfaced well after the ground war had started, but it was too late to make much of a difference.

Historians cite Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm (DS/DS), which commenced in August 1990 and January 1991, respectively, as one of America’s most successful wars because of the superb demonstration of joint, combined, and coalition operations. Skilled and swift maneuvers toppled the Iraqi military in what is fondly termed as the “Hundred-Hour War.” Army logisticians accomplished three things: They built the theater infrastructure, sustained a victorious military campaign, and closed out the theater of war by bringing personnel and materiel home.1 Lieutenant General Frederick Franks, the VII Corps commander, summarized the logistics effort of DS/DS as “brute force logistics.” This was an awesome tribute to logisticians from a seasoned tactician. Yet, we must keep in mind that the war only lasted 100 hours. Could brute force logistics have sustained a 200-hour war, or perhaps a 300-hour war?

The intent of this article is to analyze the U.S. Army’s logistics infrastructure and validate the hypothesis that demand-generated logistics support is essential to establishing the seamless and transparent distribution system necessary to sustain the deployed force. In DS/DS, the Army used push logistics, which resulted in an overwhelmed logistics pipeline, poor ITV and TAV, and, ultimately, the loss of customer confidence. Anticipatory logistics is a good thing, but too much of it, as seen in DS/DS, quickly becomes counterproductive. Again, make no mistake, the logisticians of DS/DS made it happen. Yet, they executed it in a way that was contrary to the Army’s logistics doctrine and theories.

The bottom line is that ingenuity, initiative, and hard work by many dedicated men and women—rather than consistently applied logistics practices—saved the day.2 To validate this hypothesis, we must examine the gaps in the operation: force structure, distribution management, logistics intelligence, and customer confidence. Logistics intelligence is broken down into automation platforms and databases, manual procedures, ITV, TAV, and joint total asset visibility (JTAV).

First, let us get an understanding of the magnitude of logistics muscle that went into the Gulf War. The discussion that follows assumes that readers are familiar with the DS/DS campaign and, therefore, includes minimum details of the tactical operations.

Logistics in DS/DS

DS/DS represented the largest U.S. military deployment effort since Vietnam. During these operations, the Army’s depot supply and transportation systems moved over 519,000 tons of Army supplies to Southwest Asia. Two of the Army’s major depots—New Cumberland Army Depot, Pennsylvania, and Red River Army Depot, Texas—processed many of the supplies.3 This account of the numbers of vehicles and the amount of equipment that were sent to DS/DS provides an idea of the challenge that logisticians faced—

More than 117,000 wheeled vehicles and 12,000 tanks and armored vehicles deployed and redeployed. More than 1,700 helicopters, 41,000 cargo containers and 350,000 tons of unexpended ammunition went to the theater and returned in over 500 ships and 10,000 aircraft sorties. Over 95 million meals served and 2.5 billion gallons of fuel consumed. Mail for 540,000 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors reached staggering proportions—38,000 tons, enough to cover 21 football fields 8 feet high. More than 5,000 department and contractor civilians also deployed.4

The Army supported military logistics bases that stretched as far as 600 miles from the main supply bases at the Ad Dammam and Al Jubail seaports in Kuwait, while the Marine Corps’ supply line stretched 250 miles from its main supply source.5 These numbers are incredible and, in many ways, unbelievable. The ensuing massive push of logistics quickly overwhelmed the theater infrastructure. The immature logistics infrastructure was a direct result of poor initial force structuring decisions that slashed logisticians from the early deployment schedule.

Force Structure

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) was responsible for logistics management in the theater of operations. CENTCOM tasked the Army component command with the in-theater management of seaports, common-user land transportation, and airport operations and the distribution of common items, such as food, clothing, lubricants, and conventional munitions, to all services. The Army’s headquarters in the region, the Army Central Command, planned for the ground operation, managed the theater communications zone, and was responsible for coordinating joint, combined, and coalition operations that included host nation support activities.6 Combat troops and large quantities of supplies arrived before the logistics personnel and equipment that were needed to physically handle and manage the shipments.

In mid-November 1990, two key logistics organizations arrived from the continental United States: the 321st Theater Army Materiel Management Center (TAMMC), which was doctrinally capable of providing centralized materiel management for the theater, and the 988th Repair Parts Supply Company (General Support). The 988th deployed to provide repair parts support to echelons-above-corps units, but it arrived without its authorized stockage list (ASL) and could not issue parts to customers. The 321st TAMMC requisitioned a replacement ASL, but the parts were slow to arrive, further compounding the problem. In addition, a system for distributing the limited class IX (repair parts) in Saudi Arabia did not exist and resulted in a significant amount of frustrated cargo at the ports and elsewhere.7

As more units arrived in theater, the demand for repair parts increased and caused a snowball effect. Supply personnel quickly became overwhelmed and frustrated. This and other issues set the stage for logistics challenges from the beginning. Lieutenant General William G. Pagonis, the 22d Support Command’s commanding general from August 1990 to January 1992, stated, “Because of the simultaneous deployment of combat and combat support forces, material management assets did not deploy early in the process. Automated recordkeeping of items in the theater suffered, and it was plain tough to keep accurate records on time-sensitive arrivals and departures.”8 The problems with force structuring eventually affected distribution efforts, and the iron mountains of supplies kept growing.

Distribution Management

Distribution management problems included an ineffective theater tracking system to provide for ITV of assets. Supply support activities (SSAs) poorly aligned with their supported customers, and the use of container shipments with multiple consignees overloaded the break bulk points (BBPs). Cargo was often misrouted, frustrated, and delayed.9 The Army had no reliable materiel tracking systems, used sloppy documentation procedures, and lacked sufficient materials-handling equipment to move the containerized cargo to appropriate distribution centers. Identification documents would often separate from the containers, or the containers were shipped without the proper documents, so at least half of the containers that arrived in theater had to be opened to determine their contents. An effective logistics intelligence system would have eliminated this.

Units abused the procedures for assigning priorities to requisitions. For class IX alone, high priority (issue priority designator 01–08) requisitions made up between 65 and 85 percent of the total requisitions that were submitted to the wholesale system on a daily basis.10 This caused delays in the shipment of other critical supplies. By December 1990, 7,000 tons of cargo—at least six times the total Department of Defense (DOD) airlift capability—were on the ground at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, awaiting shipment to Saudi Arabia. That meant that every aircraft in our inventory would have to make six flights in order to get all the supplies on the ground at Dover into theater. And Dover was not the only exporting hub supporting the operation. Again, did we think this through completely?

As an interim fix, the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) established Operations Desert Express and Desert European Express with the mission to deliver repair parts into theater overnight from the United States and Europe. This helped tremendously and made sense, but it was a reaction to a larger problem of poor logistics intelligence.

Logistics Intelligence

What is logistics intelligence? Logistics intelligence is having real-time updates on the movement of supplies, equipment, and personnel. The center of gravity of logistics intelligence is compatible automation platforms and databases and an infrastructure that uses them according to their designs. From a customer’s perspective, a more common product of logistics intelligence is receiving legitimate and consistent requisition status updates—where is my stuff, and when will I receive it? Logistics intelligence was marginal at best in DS/DS and caused problems like duplicate requisitions, an abused priority system, overloaded supply systems and ports, overextended air assets, and, ultimately, the loss of customer confidence.

DS/DS occurred at a time when the Army was transitioning its automation architecture. To provide adequate logistics intelligence, the infrastructure must have compatible automation platforms and databases to make it work effectively. One could argue that logistics automation was the systemic problem plaguing the theater logistics infrastructure. The root cause was the use of many nonstandard, ad hoc automation platforms and inadequate tactical communications devices. At one time, approximately 26 different stovepiped logistics automation databases were in use. These systems ranged from manual and batch processing systems to the state-of-the-art online systems of that time.

Several units deployed intending to use manual procedures throughout the operation. Others speculated that they would receive automation platforms once they were in theater. The reason many units deployed without automation systems was that they lacked confidence in the systems’ capabilities and considered them “for garrison use only.”11 In many cases, they also lacked the trained operators needed to employ these systems to their fullest capabilities. Their reliance on manual procedures limited logistics synchronization and caused a distorted view of the commander’s logistics capabilities.12

This distorted view affected the entire infrastructure and sent a false logistics posture to all levels. If the picture was inaccurate at the theater level, it was just as inaccurate at the Department of the Army and DOD levels, where leaders made major decisions based on this information or the lack thereof. The Army recognized the criticality of automation and took the necessary steps to capitalize on its capability.

The system at that time was based on manually preparing requisitions and submitting them for batch processing. The new system processed requisitions and provided status from the company through the division, corps, theater, and national inventory control point (NICP) levels by means of electronic data transfer.13 Because they lacked the tactical communication infrastructure for logistics automation, units below the division level passed information through hand-carried media, such as floppy diskettes or magnetic tapes. This was termed the “sneaker net.” Missing a disk drop was a significant, sometimes emotional, event for any unit within the 1st COSCOM. One would rather lose a critical item than miss a disk drop.

We were truly trying to make the system work despite regular system crashes and data loss. “The sheer volume of DS/DS requisitions resulted in long computer run times, processing backlogs, and hard disk overload. The transmission of a requisition from the company level to the wholesale system averaged between 5 and 15 days.”14 That timeframe seemed like an eternity, especially in a hostile environment. Once a requisition was submitted, customers often did not receive confirmation that the requisition was valid and in the system, and they rarely received updates on its status. Logisticians were unable to provide reliable logistics intelligence.


Everyone talks about ITV, TAV, and JTAV, so what are they? First, ITV is not the same thing as TAV. They are similar, but different. ITV is the term used to define the reporting and management of what is moving within the Defense Transportation System and DOD’s operational theaters. ITV is the ability to track the identity, status, and location of unit equipment and nonunit cargo from origin to destination. ITV is also knowledge management. It gives logisticians the ability to plan and predict requirements based on the information they have.

TAV is the capability to provide users with timely and accurate information on the location, movement, status, and identity of units, personnel, equipment, materiel, and supplies.15 ITV focuses on the item and its shipment mode, whereas TAV just focuses on the particular item. Both types of visibility must be accurate, timely, and available at the point of initial interface. While the data may be similar, we must be cautious and avoid using the terms interchangeably.16 Some may argue that ITV is actually a subcomponent of TAV.

In DS/DS, the lack of visibility perpetuated nonstandard behavior. Units resorting to facsimile messages and telephone calls resulted in an inordinate amount of offline requisitioning. Operating a logistics system in the “by exception” mode is contrary to its design. These nonstandard methods of requisitioning also bypassed the supporting SSAs and often perpetuated the lack of visibility problem that had generated the duplication requirement in the first place. Rather than expediting delivery of required items, this circumvention resulted in numerous delays because the nonstandard actions required manager intervention.17

JTAV offers much hope in solving this problem. According to Major William L. Taylor, U.S. Marine Corps, “JTAV is the ability to provide DOD users with timely and accurate information on the location, movement, status, and identity of units, personnel, equipment, and supplies. JTAV also makes it possible to use that information to improve the overall performance of DOD logistics practices.”18 This means that common-use items, such as food, medical supplies, fuel, ammunition, and repair parts, will no longer be a distinct service initiative. JTAV is a streamlined DOD venture that saves time and money and lessens the strain on DOD transportation assets. During DS/DS, Soldiers did not have this luxury and, as a result, customers’ and logisticians’ confidence in the supply system plummeted to an alltime low.

Customer Confidence

Users of any system must have confidence in that system’s ability to accomplish an expected outcome. When a system fails to provide the desired result, a Soldier will use exceptional means to reach that endstate because he knows that his leaders have little tolerance for excuses. We are a results-oriented military, and a lack of confidence in a system will only cause the user to circumvent the system in hopes of finding a suitable workaround. In DS/DS, units submitted new requisitions for items that had already been ordered because it was easier and faster to reorder the items than it was to try to locate them. This affected the entire wholesale system, increasing workloads and backlogs at the depots.19 Everyone paid the price in terms of frustration and additional effort.

Colonel Greg R. Gustafson puts the importance of logistics confidence into perspective. He states—

The impact of the lack of confidence by the supported customer should not be underestimated. It is inherently obvious that the customer goes to his source of supply to satisfy a requirement. The customer must leave that point with the item in hand or confidence that the requirement is valid and the unit will receive the item. Subsequent visits should reinforce this confidence by providing visibility as the item comes closer to receipt. Failure to focus asset visibility on this interface will simply perpetuate a lack of confidence in the logistics system and generate priority abuse, hoarding, and crisis management. The credibility of the logistics system resides at this interface and resources must be allocated accordingly.20

The daily number of transactions performed on the Corps Theater Army Data Processing Service Center-Phase II system often exceeded the recommended maximum daily capacity of about 60,000 transactions. The daily transaction volume ranged from 20,000 to 266,000 and included requisitions, status inquiries, modification to requisitions, substitutions, and cancellations, just to name a few. In late December 1990, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics directed his Supply Policy Division to establish and standardize management practices and procedures to ensure supply discipline, reduce overall transaction volumes, and enhance support.21

There were so many requisitions with excessive quantities that the NICPs started to cancel them arbitrarily without notifying the servicing materiel management centers (MMCs). As a result, subordinate MMCs began screening and cancelling requisitions. Between 65 and 85 percent of these requests were labeled “high priority,” and many of them were duplicates. Considering that the equipment and supplies that were originally ordered were already somewhere in theater, imagine the unnecessary workload, wasted time, equipment wear and tear, and frustration the duplicate requests caused.

Logistics intelligence is just as important for real-time visibility on unit locations as it is for the location of supplies and equipment. Units often move to new locations. What would happen if you ordered several items for delivery to your home, but you moved before they arrived and did not notify the merchant or carrier of your new address? The parcels would eventually find their way back to the sender. During DS/DS, the items could not be returned to the sender, so iron mountains of materiel accumulated at the SSAs and aerial and sea ports of debarkation.

The intensity of the operation and the rapid movement of deployed units and personnel in theater made overcoming the backlog extremely difficult and greatly increased the frustration of the supported customers. As units arrived in theater, their peacetime support relationships changed. So, supplies would arrive at an SSA that no longer supported the unit for which the supplies were destined. 22

At the conclusion of the ground war, units finally located thousands of containers and hundreds of pallets—many containing class IX items. Knowing where those class IX items were would have kept TRANSCOM from having to establish Operations Desert Express and Desert European Express to deliver repair parts overnight. The logistics system, in most cases, was capable of delivering the requested supplies and equipment. However, moving them from the ports of debarkation to their final destinations proved to be difficult.

Learning From the Mistakes

As professionals of arms and, more importantly, sustainers of an Army, we have to look beyond our overall success and dig into the details of why logistics operations did not go as planned.23 Too often, we think, “We won. Isn’t winning all that matters?” This type of mindset will surely posture us for future disappointments. “As professionals we must critically appraise our victories as well as our losses to maintain the winning edge.”24

The Army was the primary victor in DS/DS, as it made up the bulk of the ground force. Combat and combat support forces won the war, but their hard work would have been in vain without the dedicated efforts of logisticians. General Norman H. Schwarzkopf, the theater commander, lauded their superb accomplishments by stating that logisticians overcame what he called a “daunting task” in an extraordinary way. The overwhelming victory made people forget the pain and not take the actions necessary to resolve the problems. The proof of this is in the subsequent operations. By looking at post-Cold War operational logistics trends, we can see if the logistics problems that Soldiers faced in DS/DS were isolated occurrences or if the Army ignored the lessons it learned.

Operation Restore Hope

In April 1992, United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 751 established a UN operation in Somalia called Operation Restore Hope. The deployment of forces and equipment to Somalia caused logistics problems comparable to those that plagued operations in DS/DS in 1990 and 1991. Strategic planners did not anticipate the large number of logistics personnel needed to support logistics operations, especially at the sea and air ports. The time-phased force deployment data (TPFDD) database lacked the flexibility to support a contingency operation. CENTCOM created a deployment plan, but subordinate units made uncoordinated changes. Problems with automation systems caused significant troubles with asset visibility.

Pushed supplies and equipment continued to arrive and overwhelm the infrastructure. Inaccurate data on the arriving supplies were as much of a problem as they were during DS/DS. During Operation Restore Hope, units used email and telephones to pass requests directly to colleagues, bypassing local logistics centers and, once again, showing a lack of confidence in the system. Since their ability to track shipments was greatly hindered, Soldiers called depots and NICPs directly. Units tapped into UN systems to obtain common-use items, while action officers and senior officers used the direct request system, triggering the movement of supplies without the logistics personnel in theater even knowing it.

The Army did not designate a senior theater logistician with the necessary authority to make critical logistics decisions. As a result, non-standard supply procedures surfaced as they did during DS/DS. In addition, no centralized theater MMC (TMMC) existed to maintain visibility over supply operations. Lacking this capability, logisticians missed the opportunity to cross-level supplies and stockpiles started to appear everywhere.

Operation Support Hope

On 4 July 1994, Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, fell to the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front. This triggered a U.S. military intervention to support humanitarian relief operations. As in DS/DS and Restore Hope, the TPFDD was overwhelmed with input from several different commands and agencies, making it difficult to identify the appropriate force structure for the mission. Requirements for personnel and supplies from international relief and nongovernmental organizations added to an already confusing deployment plan. These logistics problems resulted in a backlog at ports of embarkation, unnecessary movement delays, and the loss of asset visibility.

Once again, combat forces preceded logisticians and units did not use standard cargo documentation and manifesting procedures. Problems also arose with automated logistics management systems. A new tactical requisition system was released ahead of schedule in an effort to overcome problems identified in previous interventions, but the system was ineffective because of delays in establishing the required communications infrastructure. For several days, the Army was unable to transmit supply and materiel requisitions to the appropriate agencies in the United States and the joint task force commander was unable to influence logistics operations.

Operation Joint Endeavor

The objective of Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia was to implement the Dayton Agreement of December 1995. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization took on the mission, and the 1st Armored Division executed the intervention assignment. Similar types of problems plagued the operation as in DS/DS. Combat forces once again preceded logistics units, resulting in an unsynchronized deployment plan and a logistics footprint that initially could not adequately support the force. Planners adjusted the TPFDD multiple times and ended up reverting back to using manual procedures instead of the automated system. Logisticians lost visibility of personnel, equipment, and supplies within the logistics pipeline.

On a brighter note, and perhaps a lesson both learned and implemented, logisticians did attempt to correct the visibility problem by the use of radio frequency tags, detection devices, and computer systems. Yet, their use did not provide the intelligence the logisticians were hoping to gain. Later in the deployment, the system became marginally operational and provided a limited amount of knowledge. Operation Joint Endeavor was a marked improvement over earlier operations because a prudent step was taken to correct a previously cited problem. This shows that at least one lesson was painful enough to bring action in an effort to fill a deficiency.

Applying the Lessons Learned

Five years and three deployments after DS/DS, problems remained the same. The Army was still plagued with force structure and distribution management issues, the use of nonstandard requisition procedures, and automation compatibility problems that resulted in low customer confidence. We did not perform any better during subsequent post-Cold War interventions than we did in DS/DS.

Do we really use our lessons learned to improve operations, or do we just continue to learn the same lessons over and over again? Major General Yves J. Fountaine did a superb job evaluating the three post-DS/DS campaigns and recommending the designation of a single joint task force (JTF) logistics commander—a role filled by Lieutenant General Pagonis in DS/DS.

We can no longer ignore these lessons if we truly intend to maintain customer confidence in our products and create a seamless, transparent, and responsive distribution system. The facts are what they are, and it does not require a logistician to see, interpret, and digest the issues that call for action. Army logisticians must learn from past mistakes and apply them to improve force structure, distribution management, logistics intelligence, and customer confidence.

Force Structure Lessons

Force structuring is arranging forces, supplies, and equipment so that they are well prepared to deploy to an area of operations. Force structuring is the initial planning stage of an operation and probably the most critical. Logisticians must be included in early troop deployments into the theater. When combat forces deploy without logistics assets, the results can be devastating to a maturing theater and the incoming logistics infrastructure. Logisticians must be on the ground early and in adequate numbers. They must be postured with the proper equipment and supplies to support deploying forces, onward movement, and employment.

Distribution Management Lessons

In each of the post-DS/DS operations that were analyzed, logisticians were able get supplies and equipment to the ports. However, the last tactical mile leading to the customer was the problem. The first step to correcting this deficiency is ensuring that the logistics intelligence infrastructure is fully functional well before the first item or troop arrives in theater. With logistics visibility, we can properly focus on the TPFDD, ensuring that it has the appropriate mixture of combat forces and logisticians to develop the theater tactically and logistically. Visibility can solve the distribution management problem, but it is easier to write about it than to execute it.

Logistics Intelligence Lessons

Improving logistics intelligence is critical to our future success. Automated logistics systems, including the TPFDD, are necessary for logisticians to do their jobs effectively. The Army must have an adequate number of capable platforms, compatible software, and a communications infrastructure that allows easy data transmission. Deploying without automation, using 26 different systems, or lacking trained operators can lead to disaster. The TPFDD is not agile enough to deal with contingency deployments, and it remains linked to the Army’s Cold War logistics theories. It must be more responsive and accept input from multiple agencies while providing real-time results.

Ultimately, the TPFDD must provide commanders with visibility of all their assets and allow staffs to manipulate those assets throughout an operation. Using JTAV will allow the military services to forecast, procure, and use supplies collectively instead of individually and will result in more efficiently used resources and cost savings across the board. In particular, the services will be able use food, fuel, ammunition, lubricants, medical supplies, and repair parts more efficiently. Over time, the cost savings and benefits will surface, especially once customer confidence in logistics intelligence has been restored.

Customer Confidence Lessons

Failure of the system to perform as expected for any reason will affect customer confidence. Users of a system will create workarounds to offset the system’s failures. The key to counteracting this problem is to ensure the system functions as designed. A functioning logistics infrastructure with solid, pipeline intelligence will ensure that each user remains informed of the status of supplies and equipment entering, within, and departing the theater. A customer should be able to order a widget, regularly check its status, and have the item arrive when the system says it will—nothing more, nothing less. Once we achieve this level of fidelity, customer confidence in the system will no longer be a problem.

A Single JTF Logistics Commander

The designation of a single JTF logistics commander with a strong logistics intelligence capability and trained personnel is essential for adequately supporting future operations. The JTF logistics commander is the sole point of contact and is responsible for all facets of logistics operations within the theater. He must be on the ground early to assess the situation and have the authority to make strategic-level decisions on personnel and equipment flow. The JTF logistics commander also must have logistics muscle early on to make a difference. Placing the commander and his staff on the ground without the proper capabilities will set him up for failure. Lieutenant General Pagonis was the go-to person for logistics during DS/DS. But he was not postured properly for success, even though he achieved it.

The proper force structure and JTAV will make the JTF logistics commander and staff successful and will enable them to make decisions regarding incoming troops, supplies, and equipment. Of course, the JTF logistics commander would operate within strict guidelines when making decisions concerning logistics automation databases. Automation changes likely will affect other commands, units, and organizations and must be carefully coordinated.

Establishing a TMMC will assist the JTF logistics commander in providing effective logistics support to the theater. The TMMC is the single, sole, and distinct MMC for the theater—there may be subordinate MMCs, but there is none higher in theater than the TMMC. All supply requisitions must process through the TMMC before they are transmitted to the NICP or another SSA. This way, the JTF logistics commander maintains visibility and has his fingers on the logistics pulse.

Final Thoughts

Again, we must ask ourselves these questions: If DS/DS had lasted longer than 100 hours, could we have sustained the effort? Would there have been enough logistics muscle and brute force left? Smoothing out or eliminating the logistics problems we experienced during post-Cold War operations will certainly posture us for demand-generated support and enhanced visibility of personnel, equipment, and supplies. The Army must focus on fostering customer confidence in the supply system and avoid overwhelming the logistics pipeline. History has shown that we quickly detour from established procedures during military operations and default to being reactive instead of proactive. Logisticians will always get the job done, but straying from established procedures can be a waste of time and effort.

The need to push logistics into theater will subside if logisticians are properly postured for success at the onset of hostilities. Anticipatory logistics is a good thing to a certain degree, but too much of it is counterproductive, especially if logisticians receiving the supplies do not have the proper force structure to receive and move the items quickly to customer units. The iron mountains of supplies and equipment are a firm reminder of this fact.

Each of the problems is correctable if we actually react to the logistics lessons we have learned over the years. Logisticians and combat arms Soldiers must work together at the onset of hostilities to best synchronize response efforts. Consider a spear: Logistics is the shank and combat arms is the tip. For the tip to be most effective, it must have the leverage and weight of the shank behind it. If we think in these terms, logisticians and other players will have equal say in the planning and execution of operations. The ideal end-state is for logisticians to be postured to provide demand-generated logistics support with a seamless and transparent distribution system that has the confidence of all who use it.

Colonel Kenneth E. King is a support operations officer in the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). He has a bachelor’s degree in management from Northern Michigan University and a master’s degree in computer information systems management from Webster University. He is a graduate of the Air Defense Artillery Officer Basic Course, the Quartermaster Officer Advanced Course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College. Colonel King wrote this essay as part of his master’s degree at the Army War College.

1 William G. Pagonis, Lieutenant General, USA, and Michael D. Krause, “Operational Logistics and the Gulf War,” The Land Warfare Papers, Number 13 (October 1992), p.1.

2 Yves J. Fountaine, Major General, USA, “Strategic Logistics for Intervention Forces,” Parameters Online, Winter 1997-1998; available at http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/parameters/; Internet; accessed 8 November 2006.

3 U.S. General Accounting Office, Operation Desert Storm, Increased Work Loads at Army Depots Created Supply Backlogs: Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Committee on Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate (Washington, D.C.: U.S. General Accounting Office, April 1992), p. 2.

4 Pagonis and Krause, p. 13.

5 U.S. General Accounting Office, Operation Desert Storm, Transportation and Distribution of Equipment and Supplies in Southwest Asia: Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Committee on Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate (Washington, D.C.: U.S. General Accounting Office, December 1991), p. 10.

6 Fountaine, p. 3.

7Glenn M. Melton, Colonel, USA, Materiel Management Challenges During the Persian Gulf War, Executive Research Project (National
Defense University: Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., 12 April 1993), p. 12.

8 Ibid., p. 9.

9 Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Operation Desert Storm Sustainment (Washington, D.C.: Pentagon, 22 July 1992), p. 53.

10 Ibid., p. 56.

11 Greg R. Gustafson, Colonel, USA, Logistics Management Systems in Desert Shield/Desert Storm – How Well did they Do?, Strategy Research Project (Carlisle Barracks: U.S. Army War College, 7 April 1992), pp. 12-13.

12 Melton, p. 24.

13 Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, p. 94.

14 Ibid.

15 David J. Kolleda, Colonel, USA, Achieving In-Transit Visibility (ITV): A Study of Technology on ITV in The Department of Defense, Strategic Research Project (Carlisle Barracks: U.S. Army War College, 18 March 2005), p. 1.

16 Gustafson, p. 21.

17 Ibid., p. 19.

18 William L. Taylor, Major, USMC, “Joint Total Asset Visibility: Foundation of Focused Logistics,” Army Logistician, May-June 2000; available at www.alu.army.mil/ALOG/issues/ MayJun00/MS537.htm; Internet; accessed 12 January 2007.

19 U.S. General Accounting Office, Operation Desert Storm, Increased Work Loads at Army Depots Created Supply Backlogs, p. 16.

20 Gustafson, pp. 20-21.

21 Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, p. 97.

22 Gustafson, p. 9.

23 Ibid.

24 Gustafson, p. 3.