For a number of years, Reserve component soldiers integrated
into theater support commands (TSCs) have been working to “get
it right.” As I noted in my articles in the last two
issues of Army Logistician, the professional energies of TSC
soldiers sometimes have been diverted from accomplishing the
mission by cultural differences between the Active and Reserve
components, self-imposed barriers and fears, and miscommunications
and misunderstandings. The success of an integrated, multicomponent
organization like the TSC depends on efficient and effective
use of all of its assigned personnel, whether they come from
the Active or Reserve components. All TSC personnel must focus
on the positives, not on the distractions, in their work. The
TSC requires an operational view that is different from that
of any other organizational structure the Army has developed
to date. What follows are my thoughts about what such an operational
view should include.
Transformation and the TSC
Like other organizations within the Army, the TSC must continue
to transform itself. It must become more agile and transient
in executing the mission at hand. Future scenarios in the Department
of Defense envision further reductions in the duplication of
support activities provided by each service to their personnel.
In fact, the future will be directed toward joint logistics.
Joint logistics may result in a logistics headquarters command
that includes the current TSC structure in an expeditionary,
multiservice organization that may or may not be commanded
by an Army element. Ad hoc support and staff logistics arrangements
of the past must become embedded realities of tomorrow. Jointness
is the long-range solution to the military’s current
distribution challenges and will be the hallmark of its future
logistics architecture. Support will be consolidated and services
outsourced as forces become more agile.
The future force will be lethal and able to survive, with a
reduced logistics footprint, improved sustainability, and a
streamlined, flattened echelons-above-corps (EAC) logistics
force. As part of the One Army concept, the TSC must be ready
to deploy in the first 15 days of an operation. In effect,
the logisticians of the TSC cannot remain as a tail; instead,
they must be embedded structurally with the combat warrior.
Those of us who serve in TSCs must remain relevant.
The TSC must have a flexible structure that can expand and
change, in much the same way that an amoeba adapts to its environment.
The future logistics force must be able to respond with the
combat warrior to a hotspot, complete the mission, and rotate
out. As logisticians, we must be able to expand and contract
to fit the warfighter’s need.
What is in store for the TSC? Based on the logistics transformation
challenges of today, it is apparent that we need to change
the paradigm of how the TSC is administered, supported, trained,
Problems With TSC Headquarters
Let’s look at the integrated TSC headquarters. Do we
really need the number of Active and Reserve component slots
currently in the headquarters element of the TSC? Maybe not!
Does the day-to-day support environment really require the
number of Active component soldiers currently assigned to the
TSC? It might be more logical to have senior military managers
oversee a civilian structure in normal headquarters operations.
Under this scheme, brigades would launch forward with added
support from a Reserve logistics augmentation to meet requirements
for a split-based or forward headquarters. Without the reserve
augmentation, the Active component TSC would become overwhelmed
in a contingency scenario.
Without Reserve component personnel serving on a full-time
basis, TSCs headquarters are thin in personnel. This is due
in part to the integrated staff structure and low authorized
level of organization ratings and because TSCs are not fully
supported in their authorized Active component slots. [The
authorized level of organization is the percentage of assets
(personnel and equipment) in a unit’s table of organization
and equipment (TOE) that the unit is authorized to maintain.]
TSC Active component elements compensate for their lack of
Active fills and activated Reserve component soldiers by increasing
the number of table of distribution and allowances slots and
hiring Department of the Army (DA) civilians and local nationals.
This allows TSC headquarters to fulfill their assigned missions.
Currently, if the Reserve component element of a TSC headquarters
is activated and is not employed in a split-based operation,
its soldiers have no work to do and are redeployed to their
home station. TSC leaders must carefully weigh how they will
employ added Reserve component soldiers immediately following
a contingency operation.
A Proposal for TSC Restructuring
The TSC restructure I envision would delete the Reserve component
elements from the current modification TOEs (MTOEs) of the
four TSCs and combine them into one, stand-alone MTOE document.
[The four TSCs are the 19th TSC at Daegu, Korea, with continental
United States augmentation (CONUS AUG) headquartered at Des
Moines, Iowa; the 9th TSC at Camp Zama, Japan, with CONUS AUG
based at Fort Belvoir, Virginia; the 21st TSC at Kaiserslautern,
Germany, with CONUS AUG headquartered at Indianapolis, Indiana;
and the 377th TSC at New Orleans, Louisiana.]
The TSCs would be left with their Active component spaces.
Based on their daily mission support requirements, the deployed
Active component TSCs likewise would modify their structures.
The TSCs’ Reserve component CONUS AUG elements would
be staffed in the event that split-based operations became
a necessity. This means the Reserves would perform as a forward
early entry module command post (EEMCP) anywhere in the world
if called on by the Army.
Currently, the total number of Reserve component spaces in
the combined TSCs is approximately 800. Of these spaces, 400
would be returned to the Army Reserve to use in restructuring
the Reserve force. This would assist the Chief of the Army
Reserve in his vision of support to the Army by providing personnel
for standing up additional companies in civil affairs, military
police, medical services, and transportation.
The remaining 400 spaces would be aligned under the separate
CONUS AUG MTOE and divided into four independent elements aligned
to two TSC cells. For simplicity’s sake, the 19th TSC
and 9th TSC would be known as Cell West and the 21st TSC and
377th TSC would be aligned as Cell East. The Reserve CONUS
AUG MTOE would be heavily staffed with logisticians. It would
incorporate the EAC logistics field commander’s view
and would be reviewed once a year at a senior leader logistics
conference. The four elements would be equally qualified to
respond to the field commander’s needs.
This separate CONUS AUG structure would be commanded by a trained
logistics major general. The selection of the major general
would be based on his linkage with the combat service support
(CSS) community, his time spent in the TSC structure, and his
knowledge of logistics imperatives. He would be responsible
for training the Reserve component TSC logistics force.
When called on, the four independent elements would provide
full-strength support. Members who may not be able to go on
the first lift would be replaced by other members holding their
positions. The cells would deploy forward to contingencies,
bypassing the mobilization stations. Support would be based
nearly 100 percent on the four separate EEMCP-type organizations.
They also would be tailored to support specific requirements,
such as performing as a corps support group. The senior commanders
of the TSCs would field test and validate Reserve component
elements to project forward.
The major general, through consultations with the Active component
TSC commanding generals, would direct the training of these
separate CSS packages. The actual training would be conducted
by a brigadier general deputy commanding general, assisted
by four trained senior logistics colonels supported by a number
of lieutenant colonels and junior mid-level managers. For example,
each colonel would have support from, at a minimum, operators
who have experience and skills gained in previous senior logistics
assignments. These soldiers would be handpicked and assigned
to this logistics MTOE structure by the CONUS AUG senior leaders.
The Reserve component elements would continue to be based at
their present locations. These locations have served well for
recruiting and retaining soldiers. Maintaining them would eliminate
possible economic harm to an area that could result from losing
military units, perpetuate unit identities and traditions,
strengthen the identification of current soldiers with the
transformed organization, and continue the alignment of the
Reserve base structure with the supporting Regional Readiness
Having a separate structure would allow the Reserve and Active
components to manage their internally controlled spaces without
undue outside influence. Each component would be responsible
for its own resources. One-year active-duty tours in a TSC
would increase the role of Reserve structures in a theater.
By assigning a number of Active Guard/ Reserve and Active component
soldiers to each TSC’s CONUS Reserve element headquarters,
the TSCs would fully meet the intent of the force. Follow-on
Troop Program Unit members would supplement the forward element
during their annual training and individual duty training weekends.
Training would change to allow for a full-up element to deploy
on overseas deployment training (ODT). Normal ODT rotations
would still be employed. The cells would be trained as a total
element to develop the perception among all soldiers of one,
integrated unit. When a cell went on ODT, it would require
a soldier readiness program (SRP). The SRP would be conducted
semiannually. Those soldiers falling out during these SRPs
would be replaced immediately by members of other independent
elements within the CONUS AUG. The CONUS AUG element would
be a Tier 1 DA Master Priority List entity, and the Army Reserve
Command would be required to have it fully filled with a readiness
factor of 90 percent.
Annual training would be focused on a different area of operations
for each of the four independent elements. This would allow
soldiers to be well rounded and able to supplant those soldiers
unable to respond so the TSC on the receiving end would not
be shortchanged. This method would relieve the Regional Readiness
Commands from having to cross-level personnel into the TSCs.
If a contingency should grow and the mission call for a split-based
operation, the Reserve CONUS AUG would respond to formal request
channels to alert and call forward the appropriate Reserve
Meeting Logistics Imperatives
The Army Reserve complements the Army’s core competencies
to train and equip soldiers and develop future leaders. It
helps fill the support role of providing a relevant and ready
land power capability to the regional combatant commander as
part of the joint team. My proposed TSC restructure would fulfill
the Army Reserve imperative to provide a predictable and sustainable
rotation based on depth of capability. The mobilization of
the TSCs’ Reserve component elements would relieve Active
component rotational forces in theaters around the world. CSS
and combat support Reserve units will help to even out the
workload across the Army by providing a base of experienced
individuals with real-world operational backgrounds. The TSC
mirrors the empowerment of the Army Reserve by adding operational
depth to the Army, relieving some of Army logisticians’ operating
tempo, meeting the demands of continuous contingency operations,
and assisting in achieving unit readiness.
The TSC serves as a surrogate EAC logistics trainer in CONUS.
Reserve soldiers bring skilled logistics military occupational
specialties to the table; in many cases, they also add civilian
skills critical to the operational and administrative needs
of the total TSC. Their skills create a win-win situation for
all TSC logisticians. This is especially true for junior leaders,
whose roles will be critical in the future.
Reserve soldiers are valued assets in developing internal procedures
for the expansible TSC structure, while day-to-day operations
are handled by the Active component. The Reserve component
is key to mobilization and technical operations in the field.
Reserve soldiers offer a stable, mature workforce that is positioned
for the long haul. For the most part, they are committed team
members devoted to their units. They have learned their skill
sets through years of dedicated service. Unlike Active component
soldiers, who continually change locations and CSS positions,
Reserve component soldiers remain in their units.
The augmented Reserve element structure I have described would
allow the Army to supplement the needs of the forward TSCs.
The CONUS AUG cells, or portions of them, would be called forward
by the Army. There would be no need to cross-level soldiers
because the teams would deploy at full strength. There would
be few, if any, administrative challenges during and after
the deployment because Active and Reserve component systems
would remain separate; Reserve component personnel would remain
in the Army Reserve’s Regional Level Application Software.
Training and Standard Army Management Information Systems requirements
would be conducted in a parallel fashion. Integration would
be visible when the Active and Reserve component soldiers found
themselves working for one another in various scenarios. There
would be no need for memoranda of agreement. Ratings of the
senior Reserve leaders would be directed from the highest echelons
of the Reserve community. In the end, the relevance of the
Reserve component personnel would increase.
There are a number of multicomponent councils and committees
at various levels of the Army Forces Command and DA. Unfortunately,
as a community, TSC leaders have not exercised their strength
to sit at the table and lay out their needs and concerns. One
of the persistent challenges for TSCs is bringing together
commanders and appropriate staff to work on making TSC integration
smoother and easier for all.
The TSC must continue to transform into an amoeba-like organization
that effectively supports the needs of the combatant warriors
of the 21st century. At the same time, we must acknowledge
that changing in a hasty manner may overshadow the success
of TSCs as a military force. As a professional logistician,
I am confident that the TSC transformation will be successful.
Major General George William (Bill) Wells, Jr., USAR, is
the former Chief of Staff of the 21st Theater Support Command.
He currently is an individual mobilization
augmentee assigned as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Mobilization and
Training, Army G–4.