Many organizations and individuals are involved in employing logistics forces
on the battlefield. Requirements must be identified, sourced, and moved
to best meet the Army’s missions in Iraq.
Deployment orders? How did we get deployment orders? But we’re the 123d Mess Kit Repair Company. Where are we going, and what will we be doing? How will we get there?
If you have ever wondered how your unit got tapped for a deployment, this article is for you. Believe it or not, magic is not the primary means of determining who goes where and why, and it is not how they get there, either. The system is not always transparent, but it makes sense when you see the whole picture.
The Whole Picture
The Army has a set process for the employment of brigade combat teams (BCTs) called Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN). This process deals with the management of combat brigade formations; it does not deal with echelons-above-brigade enablers, which include medical, aviation, military police, and logistics units. ARFORGEN manages almost half of the units deployed to the current conflict; the others fall into a sourcing process that, for simplicity, we will call “Logistics Force Generation,” or “LOGFORGEN.” LOGFORGEN is a three-part process that begins between 15 and 18 months before
a unit arrives in theater. Simply put, LOGFORGEN identifies logistics requirements, sources those requirements, and then moves sourced units to their deployment locations.
Before going too deep into the weeds, understand that each phase has a headquarters responsible for its product. The combatant command with regional responsibility for Iraq and Afghanistan is the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which identifies and submits requirements. Sourcing is the overall responsibility of the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM). Army units are assigned requirements by the Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). Once units are sourced against requirements, the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) leads the process of moving the forces. With that overview in mind, the following discussion will hopefully provide a bit more insight into the process.
Identifying the Requirements
Requirements are generated by the commands on the ground and then submitted to CENTCOM for validation and approval. This normally takes place in two week-long conferences, where general officers scrutinize each individual requirement. Each rotation works the requirements differently.
In Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 05–07, the Multi-National Corps-Iraq C–4, in coordination with the 3d Corps Support Command (COSCOM), submitted the logistics unit requirements for units that would deploy two rotations in the future. The 3d COSCOM’s involvement was crucial since it owned and employed over 90 percent of the logistics units in Iraq. To ensure that it provided quality input to the requirements conference and captured updated information, the 3d COSCOM reviewed the force structure quarterly with its subordinate brigade headquarters. These reviews identified mission and location changes and determined if units could be redeployed or curtailed without replacement. The 3d COSCOM and the brigades and groups discussed each unit thoroughly and candidly; disagreements and reallocation disputes were resolved by the COSCOM commander.
Validating the missions was only the first step in preparing for the CENTCOM requirements
conferences. The 3d COSCOM also had to ensure that the administrative data for each company and detachment were accurate. Surprisingly, this proved very difficult. The Secretary of Defense’s policy stated that a unit could only serve boots-on-ground (BOG) for 365 days. A unit is considered BOG when over half of the unit is on the ground and in theater. It took nearly 3 months to get the correct arrival information from the brigades, battalions, companies, and detachments.
The 3d COSCOM also had to cross-check with the Coalition Forces Land Component Command on flight arrivals. Not all units arrived when planned, and policing the battlefield to get the exact dates gave an accurate view of when the replacements were needed on the ground. Eventually, a 3d COSCOM liaison officer in Kuwait had each commander sign a memorandum as part of his arrival processing. This has since become the standard practice at the aerial port of debarkation before units even move to the logistics support area to bed down for the first night.
CENTCOM validates force requirements using a database called the Force Requirements Enhanced Database. Each mission has a unique unit requirement form (URF) that contains the administrative data for the requirement, the mission, the capabilities, and any additional clarifying information, such as whether or not a joint solution could work or specific training guidance. The URF, which is also linked to previous and future rotations, establishes the unit’s initial mission requirements and important point of contact information for when it arrives
Sourcing the Requirements
CENTCOM forwards its list of validated requirements to JFCOM so units can be assigned to missions. JFCOM sends the Army requirements to FORSCOM for sourcing. The FORSCOM experts for each branch, called organizational integrators, work to match requirements with available units. The organizational integrators take a wide variety of factors into account, focusing on deployment versus dwell time, the unit’s suitability for the URF mission, and requested capabilities. They also identify requirements that they cannot fill with ready units that would habitually perform that mission. For example, CENTCOM might request 10 truck companies, but FORSCOM only has 8 with enough dwell time to be ready in time. Thus, an initial sourcing shortfall of two companies exists. FORSCOM planners then roll up their sleeves and work on alternative solutions.
Since the demand for some resources is lower than for others, one sourcing solution that is becoming more common is to use another type of unit in lieu of the kind requested by CENTCOM. Those units are called “in lieu of” units, or ILO units. In OIF 05–07, the 3d COSCOM had 22 field artillery units serving as truck companies. FORSCOM determined that, with the proper training, field artillery units that had adequate dwell time could perform the truck missions. That would enable high-demand,
low-density units (like palletized load system and heavy equipment transporter truck companies) to reset and not have to return with only 6 to 9 months of dwell time before their second and third rotations. The ILO units that served in the 3d COSCOM were tremendously successful.
If FORSCOM cannot fill a requirement after going through its inventories and working on ILO solutions, it sends the shortfalls back to JFCOM. JFCOM then looks to the Navy and Air Force to see if they possess the skill sets to fill an Army requirement. These joint solutions necessitate intensive coordination and discussion. Logistics success stories include Navy Seabees working as Army cargo transfer companies and Air Force units working as Army truck companies and movement control teams.
For all of these sourcing solutions, the original mission and capabilities detailed in the URF prove crucial. Capabilities are matched to needs to best support the war effort. Once all of the known requirements for the rotation have sourcing solutions, JFCOM will prepare an execution order for the Secretary of Defense to sign. Once signed, units are notified of their pending deployments and begin the process of moving to the theater.
Moving the Sourced Requirements
Movement is a stressful period for unit personnel. The equipment they have cleaned and packed will travel to the theater, and airplanes will arrive to carry passengers to the deployed location. The overall process is a fairly simple concept, but the mechanics of execution are complex. The unit movement officer and noncommissioned officer use a program called the Transportation Coordinators’ Automated Information for Movement System II (TC–AIMS II) to capture a list of all of the deploying unit’s equipment and personnel. The file containing this information is called a unit deployment list (UDL).
At the same time, TRANSCOM will direct the building of a deployment plan identification with unit line numbers (ULNs) for each requirement in the execution order. These ULNs will have the latest arrival dates and destinations from the execution order. First, with a bit of help from higher headquarters and the unit’s installation, the UDL is married up with the ULN. These records are consolidated in the deployment plan identification so that TRANSCOM can see how much equipment and how many personnel need to travel from various locations. They then build the plan and coordinate for transportation of all of those requirements. Discovering inaccurate data late in this process creates significant turbulence and potentially means that a unit will not arrive on time.
What can you do at the tactical level to influence what is really a strategic process? First, if you are already on the ground, make sure that your BOG date is correct. This date drives the requirement and the sourcing, and inaccurate dates will cause confusion for the Soldiers coming in as your replacements. Inaccurate data can also cause you to stay a bit longer. You also must ensure that you have an accurate mission essential equipment list and a good list of what equipment is staying. Be sure to begin communicating with your replacements early; that will enable them to prepare and have their information ready. You are the expert on your mission.
If you are deploying, get your unit equipment list in TC–AIMS II updated. Having everything correctly entered makes adjusting the UDL much simpler for you. Contact the unit that you think you are replacing and ask about the mission and the area; missions change in theater as commanders reallocate their available forces to meet the current missions. The reason you are deploying may not be the same as why the previous unit deployed 12 months ago.
Make a plan and build in some leeway. Flexibility will ease the stress of the final weeks before the deployment. Remember to plan for block leave, certification exercises, equipment shipment, inventories, and training with enough time to be able to adjust. Train as comprehensively as possible so that your Soldiers are ready to flex and adapt. Once in theater, the transfer of authority is the time to learn the absolute latest information and adjust the tactics, techniques, and procedures and standing operating procedures that you have developed along the way.
Now that you have seen how the process works and what it entails, we hope you have a better understanding of how the 123d Messkit Repair Company got selected to deploy for its mission. The process is fluid, and it is certainly not perfect. The reality is that the mission in theater comes first and the system responds as requirements and guidance change. Dedicated Soldiers at all levels work diligently to ensure trained and ready units are deployed. In 1914, Count Helmuth von Moltke said, “The advance of armies formed of millions of men . . . was the result of years of painstaking work. Once planned, it could not possibly be changed.” Unlike the Moltke plan that began World War I, LOGFORGEN represents an attempt at flexibility and responsiveness that puts the mission at the forefront.
Lieutenant Colonel David Beougher was the chief of force generation for the 3d Corps Support Command in Operation Iraqi Freedom 05–07. He is currently the professor of military science for the Eastern Michigan University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. He is a graduate of the Air Defense Officer Basic Course, the Transportation Officer Basic Qualification Course, the Combined Logistics Officers Advanced Course, and the Army Command and General Staff College.
Sergeant First Class Bruce A. Haynes, USA (Ret.), works for the Logistics Exercise and Simulation Directorate at Fort Lee, Virginia. He was the noncommissioned officer in charge of force generation for the 3d Corps Support Command in Operation Iraqi Freedom 05–07. He has an associate’s degree in general studies and is a graduate of the Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course, the Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course, and Drill Sergeant School.