The analysis of warfare is not new and in fact has
been occurring for centuries. More than 2,000
years ago, the Chinese military theorist Sun Tzu
took analysis of war seriously enough to put his thoughts
down in writing. In the 19th century, two great military
theorists, the Swiss-born Antoine-Henri Jomini and the
Prussian Carl von Clausewitz, also analyzed war, including
the question of whether war was more of an art or a
Clausewitz, in the end, determined that war was a
gamble and that factors like the "fog of war" and "friction" do not allow war to be completely driven by science.
(Friction is what Soldiers today call "Murphy.")
Jomini originally thought that the practice of war, like
other disciplines, could be broken down into solid, rational
principles that, if followed, would produce success on
the battlefield. Ultimately, Jomini seemed to realize that
such analysis was not very realistic and that war was both
science and art.
However, this article is not meant to reignite the
Clausewitz versus Jomini or the warfare art versus science
debates. My real purpose is to demonstrate that by
using some of the Army's current analytical capabilities,
scientific principles can be applied to the study of battlefield
and peacetime logistics. The use of these objective
methods would have been appreciated by Jomini because
he was one of the first great theorists to actively consider
logistics while developing his theories.
I would argue that the logistics aspects of warfare are
in fact more open to scientific analysis than other aspects.
I think this can be demonstrated by reviewing several
examples of the logistics analysis performed by the Field
Studies Branch (FSB) of the Army Materiel Systems
Analysis Activity (AMSAA).
AMSAA, located at Aberdeen Proving Ground,
Maryland, is the Army's materiel analysis organization.
Although other analytic organizations focus on tactics,
strategy, and lessons learned outside of the materiel
realm, examining the materiel aspect of the Army's functions
is the driving force behind AMSAA's mission.
FSB focuses on the analysis of logistics systems, processes,
and materiel. This analysis is conducted by engineers,
operations research analysts, mathematicians, and
other personnel in objective disciplines. FSB supports the
logistics aspects of Army warfighting by providing the
types of scientific analysis that Jomini could only dream
The Office of Personnel Management classifies operations
research and systems analysis (ORSA) as career
series 1515 and states, "The primary requirement of
operations research work is competence in the rigorous
methods of scientific inquiry and analysis rather than in
the subject matter of the problem." The military officer
equivalent to the civilian 1515 series is functional area
49. The entire AMSAA workforce, other than the deputy
director, who is a colonel, consists of Department of the
Army (DA) civilians and contractors.
Deployment of Analysts in Southwest Asia
One use of analysis in logistics has been AMSAA
FSB's deployment of analysts to Iraq, Kuwait, and
Afghanistan. These analysts provide logistics analysis
support while deployed in support of Army field support
brigades (AFSBs). AFSBs provide the critical interface
between the materiel enterprise and the warfighter. Currently,
the 401st AFSB is in Afghanistan and the 402d
AFSB is in Kuwait after leaving Iraq. However, the 402d
does continue to support the Department of State mission
in Iraq. The FSB deployed analysts to Iraq in September
2006 and to Afghanistan in August 2008 on a rotational
FSB analytic capabilities have led to logistics improvements
through studies such as the following.
Fire suppression systems. During 2007 and 2008, fire
suppression systems in combat vehicles in Iraq were
experiencing premature discharges that made vehicles not
mission capable, which in turn degraded combat power.
FSB's Steve Webb was attached to the 402d AFSB and
conducted an analysis that helped to resolve this problem.
For his efforts in this and other studies while he was
deployed, Webb received one of the Army Materiel Command's
2009 Louis Dellamonica Outstanding Personnel
of the Year Awards.
Tactical wheeled vehicle power draw. A tactical
wheeled vehicle (TWV) power draw study was used to
determine if the electrical load on various TWVs was too large for their design specifications and, if not, how much "head room" remained for potential future items to be
installed with an additional increase in power draw.
Stryker temperatures.Temperature data collection
and analysis of Stryker armored vehicles in Iraq helped
lead to the installation of air-conditioning. The data were
collected by AMSAA analysts and compared to Army
Public Health Command data showing that temperatures
in Strykers could exceed those the human body could
withstand. Using a $45 sensor to collect temperature
data yielded more than $20 million in funding to support
compartment cooling redesigns in Strykers and tracked
These analyses, backed up by data, helped to provide
solutions that prevented the degradation of combat power.
Such degradation affects lives and resources. As the
Army moves into an era of scarcer resources, resource
conservation will become even more important, and datadriven
analysis should lead the way. The emphasis given
to managing financial resources in current operations, as
demonstrated by the Commander's Guide to Money as
a Weapons System (Center for Army Lessons Learned
Handbook 09–27), testifies to the important role money
plays in combat power and sustainment.
Sample Data Collection
Sample data collection (SDC) is an Army G–4 maintenance
program that involves the worldwide collection of
maintenance data from a sample of Army combat vehicles,
TWVs, artillery systems, and aviation assets (including
unmanned aerial vehicles and rotary-wing airframes).
As the responsible office for executing the SDC program,
AMSAA FSB maintains a presence at most Army locations
worldwide and uses contractor personnel to collect
data. FSB DA civilians and contractors analyze the data
for presentation to senior leaders as required. This in turn
helps senior leaders to make Army fleet-wide decisions in
such areas as new acquisitions, capitalization, and reset.
Unit maintenance personnel and other vested parties
outside of the Army's senior leadership also can request
and use the collected maintenance data. Such analytical
capabilities allow leaders to make tactical-, operational-,
and strategic-level decisions that affect logistics operations
on the battlefield supported by actual data. Sample
maintenance data can be used to make better informed
An example of how SDC data help leaders make
informed decisions is manpower requirements criteria
(MARC), which are used when building or updating
Army unit modified tables of organization and equipment
(MTOEs) or tables of distribution and allowances
(TDAs). An accurate, data-driven analysis of the true
labor hours needed to perform maintenance will result
in a more realistic MTOE or TDA. Data can also help
illustrate the impacts of any maintenance actions, whether
scheduled or unscheduled, on vehicle downtime.
|A deployed AMSAA analyst installs devices
to gather data on a tactical wheeled vehicle
during the AMSAA power draw study.
Another analysis program under the SDC program that
enhances Army combat power is the AMSAA conditionbased
maintenance (CBM) program. This program grew
out of the larger Department of Defense CBM initiative,
which was designed to make maintenance practices more
prognosis-driven. Ultimately, CBM's goal is to focus
maintenance more on responding to the actual condition
of equipment than on simply performing services at fixed
intervals. The result will be more maintenance dollars
saved and fewer mission failures caused by equipment
In 2006, AMSAA FSB began installing instrumentation
devices on most TWV variants throughout the world;
these TWVs operate in different climates and terrain and
with different usage profiles. The instrumentation devices
collect critical data points for analysis from the vehicles'
J1939/J1708 sensor network. Additional data are received
from other instruments feeding into the data recorder,
such as accelerometers and global positioning system devices
installed on the vehicles. The data are then collected
and analyzed to look for any outcomes that can help to
support CBM goals.
One such analysis matches the SDC maintenance records
with a CBM-instrumented vehicle. Provided a mechanical
failure occurs during the data collection period,
analysts try to determine predictive algorithms that match
the maintenance records with the sensor data on that
particular failure event recorded from the instrumentation
devices. The goal is to use any developed algorithms
to predict the future better and thus prevent mechanical
failures before they happen. The hope is that this will
mitigate mission failures caused by mechanical issues.
While much work remains to be done in this area, the
usage data analysis has already provided returns. One
such area is in reducing the fuel consumption caused
by high idling rates among TWVs operating in Iraq and
Afghanistan. The high idling rates have interested senior
leaders as a potentially easy target for cutting fuel costs
in a resource-conscious Army. For example, as a result
of the CBM analysis, Product Manager Heavy Tactical
Vehicles will soon refit some line-haul trucks with tactical
Like SDC itself, the CBM data analysis has numerous
other benefits. These examples serve as a demonstration
of the usefulness of CBM data analysis in making betterinformed
logistics decisions for the Army's vehicle fleets
AMSAA Materiel Lessons Learned Analysis
Another subcomponent of the SDC program is AMSAA
Materiel Lessons Learned Analysis (AMLLA). This is a
program that identifies systemic maintenance issues that
can be resolved at the lowest level possible. The AMLLA
program uses SDC contractor personnel to gather data "on the ground" and research systemic failures firsthand.
Using reach-back capabilities, FSB analysts then can
apply the full range of AMSAA capabilities to the problem,
such as using modeling and simulation to conduct
physics-of-failure analysis and determine how failures are
These three examples resulted from analysis of Stryker
A coolant hose ruptured, spraying hot coolant on the
vehicle's gunner. As a result of the analysis, General Dynamics
Land Systems agreed with AMLLA's recommendations
to install additional covers and add the item to the
preventive maintenance checks and services table.
The telescoping steering column mechanism of the Stryker vehicle was seizing. After AMLLA analysis, General Dynamics Land Systems recommended implementing short-term changes suggested by the steering manufacturer (TRW Automotive) as a high-priority way to improve durability.
The bolts on the mounting for the Stryker driver's hatch
were gouging supplemental armor and would not allow
the hatch to open all the way. After AMLLA analysis,
General Dynamics Land Systems implemented engineering
Given the high pace of current operations, the absence
of the AMLLA program would likely have left these types
of systemic failures in the "just deal with it" category.
However, that approach would have affected missions
because the failures could have adversely affected safety,
morale, or lives.
After serving in Afghanistan as a deployed AMSAA
representative from August 2010 to February 2011, I appreciated
the role played by analysts in trying to affect the
warfight. Most noticeable was the use of ORSA analysts
in combat support roles, such as countering improvised
explosive devices, and in social demographic work, like
determining election results. Surprisingly, I found that
very few ORSA analysts knew much about theater logistics
or what an AFSB was. Very little rigorous analytical
support such as ORSA was evident in addressing logistics
The logistics aspects of current operations offer no
shortage of work for analysis. Based on my experience,
some logistics areas that I believe are candidates for further
analysis include new equipment fielding processes,
Afghanistan intratheater aviation transportation, dining
facility efficiency (including the convoys that supply
them), forward operating base traffic patterns, and noncombat
unit utilization and workload ratios.
It is rather easy to demonstrate the need for analysis
and the use of science applications in warfare. In particular,
given modern advances in technology and the
logistics tail needed to support them in an increasingly
budget-constrained environment, logistics is an area in
which analysis can pay huge dividends. It appears that
now is the time to focus more of our analysis capabilities
on logistics to preserve combat power in the future Army.