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Security Assistance From the Logistics Point of View

The author describes his experience as a logistician assigned to a security assistance office in Afghanistan.

My 1-year tour in Afghanistan as a logistics officer clearly reinforced the importance of some basic logistics concepts (such as controlling inventory, meeting operational requirements, and tracking delivery) as well as the security assistance and cooperation practices for supporting our partners in the Global War on Terrorism.

When I arrived in Kabul, I was assigned to the Security Assistance Office-Afghanistan (SAO–A), Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan. I had no security assistance experience, but I did bring more than 16 years of logistics experience in various positions, ranging from maintenance company commander to support operations officer. When I arrived, I was assigned as the vehicle commodity manager and tasked with quantifying and qualifying the vehicle requirements for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and acquiring those vehicles to support the fight against the Taliban.

A couple of months later as a transition took place, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) established operations, and people moved on, I became the chief of the foreign military sales (FMS) division responsible for the acquisition of all equipment, training, and sustainment requirements, with a budget of $13 billion. In the coming months, my appreciation for and reliance on many concepts I learned over the years at brigade, battalion, and company levels about procuring, fielding, and sustaining systems grew greatly.

Determining How to Accomplish the Mission
I had many issues to cover while I was assigned as FMS chief. The components of the ANSF—the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Air Corps, and Afghanistan National Police (ANP)—have their own specific equipment requirements that sometimes cross over among the agencies. For example, they all require a light tactical vehicle capability. Foremost in everyone’s mind was the balance between wisely spending the funds at our disposal and the need to get the right equipment procured, into theater, and issued in a timely manner to equip the ANA, Afghan National Air Corps and ANP according to the fielding plan.

This sounds easy, doesn’t it? In most cases it was. However, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan were required to field a fighting force while in contact. That is when the concept of “simple” went out the window. In SAO–A, we had to figure out how to accomplish the requirement while in the fight.

Determining Who Gets What and How Much
Determining how to outfit the ANSF was a complicated process that stretched across several directorates. The CJ–7, as the force generator, builds the modification table of organization and equipment or, as it is called in Dari, the “Tashkiel.” The document outlines the personnel and equipment requirements from ministry to corps and even down to commando and special forces units. For the Tashkiel and the subsequent byproduct “Annex K” (fielding schedule), we in SAO–A could identify new unit-fielding requirements and gain insight into the type and quantity of equipment to purchase for the ANA.

SAO–A took the operational requirement and matched it with the appropriate equipment. Our mission focused on meeting the operational requirement and used the following concepts to achieve success:

  • Acquire the right equipment, training, and sustainment packages to meet the ANSF operational requirements (acquisition).
  • Validate shipment of the equipment and status of training contracts (tracking).
  • Advise and train the Afghans on the security assistance procedures that we use to reduce the coalition footprint in the future (transition).

Acquisition
The acquisition of equipment, training, and sustainment goes back to the Tashkiel. When coupled with onhand quantities and the operational requirement, the Tashkiel forms the genesis of the acquisition process. SAO–A also found that working with force structure was challenging because the number of ANA personnel grew from 134,000 to 171,000 and the ANP personnel grew from 96,800 to 134,000. This created a challenge in acquisition because the end state for appropriate quantities kept increasing.

Most of the crew-served weapons required by the ANA (M249s, M240Bs and M2s) had to be procured ahead of the production timeline. By the winter of 2009, we realized that we would have to divert these weapon systems from U.S. Army stocks to support the accelerated fielding of new ANA units to meet the 171,000-man force structure by the October 2011 deadline. The production timelines for some of those weapon systems can be anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

We could not always pull available stock from a warehouse to meet our requirements. Requesting diversions normally drew in expertise from the Department of the Army G–4 System Support Office and G–8 to facilitate the diversions and manage the priorities. To identify the requirements by type of equipment and quantity, security assistance officers had to manage a large amount of information and plug into the unit fielding schedule the distribution and onhand quantities of equipment in the main depots in Kabul.

Once the security assistance officer knows what to order, he must plug the information into the Afghanistan security forces fund, which funds our “pseudo FMS” cases to buy equipment, training, and sustainment. The process is called “pseudo FMS” because the money for purchasing equipment, training, and sustainment for the ANA and ANP comes from U.S. and coalition donations. This is necessary because Afghanistan does not have a gross domestic product capable of purchasing the equipment required to defeat an insurgency.

Acquiring the equipment is the first step in a phased process to get the right equipment into the hands of the warfighter to ensure success on the battlefield. The timeliness of this process requires the security assistance officer to maintain visibility and be conscious of the quantity and type of equipment he is ordering and when it is scheduled to arrive in theater.

SAO–A is working locally to achieve a stable Afghanistan through economic development. In the end, SAO–A’s goal is to provide the right equipment and support to meet operational requirements while in contact. To date, we have done this prudently, using our resources responsibly to outfit an army and police force to fight an insurgency.

Tracking
We developed what was commonly referred to as a common operational picture (COP), depicting quantities and authorizations for equipment grouped into the shoot, move, and communicate categories. Each piece of equipment was tracked to show the quantity on order through FMS, what was on hand in Kabul, and what was already issued to units. The reports that fed the COP included the net asset visibility report, the Corps Inventory Management System report, our own FMS procurement records, and the Security Cooperation Information Portal.

In FMS, two primary means of shipping equipment are available. Sensitive items (weapons, radios, and ammunition) are flown directly to Kabul International Airport. Rolling stock and all other equipment are usually shipped by surface from consolidation points in the United States (primarily the Defense Distribution Center at New Cumberland, Pennsylvania) and onward to the port of Karachi, Pakistan. A mix of “jingle” trucks and other conveyances makes for a treacherous journey for the locally-hired truckdrivers who face insurgents and, in the winter, a nearly impassable one-lane road network into Kabul.

Transition
As SAO–A prepares its Afghan colleagues to take on a larger role in the acquisition process, it is imperative to provide them with some common acquisition and supply management practices. Although certain aspects of the acquisition process in Afghanistan are unique, many of the practices are similar to those used by the U.S. military. Inventory management, prudent acquisition practices grounded in meeting operational requirements, and accountability are some of the concepts being passed to the Afghans in the transition process.

To encourage the transition, SAO–A stood up the Office of Security Cooperation with advisers specifically tasked to provide the Afghans with tools necessary for a smooth transition. As SAO–A continues to evolve, eventually the entire coalition force will draw down and the only military entity to remain will be SAO–A, which will become the Office of Security Cooperation-Afghanistan and will work out of the U.S. Embassy. At that time, the Afghans should be directing, executing, and tracking their own equipment procurement, training contracts, and sustainment. For that to happen, it is critical for the security cooperation personnel to teach, mentor, and then stand back and let their Afghan colleagues take over acquisition. It is clear that the Afghans wish to have this responsibility.

Although working in SAO–A was somewhat removed from the world of logistics status, fuel deliveries, ammunition supply points, and maintenance reports, many similarities could be found between the processes that guide security assistance officers and logisticians. Among these similarities are understanding requirements and acquisition and maintaining visibility of inbound equipment. Overall, acquisition and security assistance is the cornerstone of developing our partners in the Global War on Terrorism to provide not only for our own future security but also for their stability, security, and prosperity.

Major Daniel M. Maloney was the director of the Integration Cell, Security Assistance Office-Afghanistan, when he wrote this article. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of the State of New York, Regents College, and a master’s degree in organization from the University of Phoenix. He is a graduate of the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, and Intermediate Level Education.


 
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