The way the United States equips its forces to
fight wars has been evolving since the Army’s humble
beginnings as a band of citizen soldiers fighting for independence.
During World War II, war bonds, Liberty ships, and “Rosie
the Riveter” were some of the symbols of the Nation’s
full commitment to meet the challenges it faced. Every man,
woman, and child felt the impact of a nation—and a world—at
war. Soldiers and units knew they were in the fight until the
war ended. The Korean War was characterized by rapid buildup,
break-out success, unexpected turning of the tide, and then
stalemate. The Army fought in Korea with units and equipment
remaining from the end of World War II. The Nation felt the
impact of the war to a lesser extent than it experienced during
World War II, but Soldiers and units again knew they were in
it for the long haul.
During the Vietnam War, unit and equipment deployment, gradual buildup, and individual
Soldier rotations changed the warfighting paradigm. Units and equipment stayed,
but Soldiers rotated yearly. Americans knew they were at war, but the primary
way they felt it was morally and politically.
With Operation Desert Storm, the United States again changed the way it resourced
and fought a war. Long, gradual buildup of equipment and personnel, rapid decisive
victory, and rapid withdrawal were the pattern. With the support of the entire
world, U.S. forces—built, trained, and equipped to fight the Soviet Union—displayed
their muscle against an inferior foe.
The buildup for the Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) ground invasion followed the
pattern established in Operation Desert Storm. The Army moved forces from the
continental United States and Europe to Kuwait. The forces trained and prepared
in a safe haven and attacked at a designated time. However, at the conclusion
of major ground combat operations, the military found itself facing a growing
insurgency, which prevented a rapid drawdown of forces. At the same time, the
United States had forces committed to the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom
(OEF) stability assistance mission in Afghanistan. To support both OIF and OEF,
the Army deploys units and equipment for 1-year periods. This seemingly simple
solution to maintaining forces for a sustained period has actually created a
new set of challenges for equipping deploying units.
Equipping Back-to-Back Deployments
V Corps headquarters and subordinate units from Germany were the backbone of
the ground invasion of Iraq. During OIF I and OIF II, almost every unit in V
Corps deployed to Iraq, including the 3d Corps Support Command (COSCOM), 1st
Armored Division, and 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized). When the units redeployed,
they faced two equipment problems: They had returned without all of their equipment,
and much of the equipment that was redeployed with them needed extensive repair.
The first problem—returning without all of their equipment—was caused
by a new concept created by Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA), called “stay-behind
equipment” (SBE). SBE is the term used to describe equipment that a redeploying
unit either leaves permanently in theater or transfers to the unit replacing
The second problem—returning equipment needing extensive repair—was
created by the condition of the redeployed equipment. Much of the equipment the
V Corps units shipped back to Germany required general support- or depot-level
repairs. These repairs were performed by a U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) program
called general support repair and return (GSRR). However, sending the equipment
to GSRR did not solve the problem entirely because the rapid pace of deployments
to OEF and OIF did not allow enough time for all equipment in the GSRR program
to be repaired.
Where do you start when trying to equip forces under unusual
situations? Our answer in the V Corps G–4 was to define a new set of business rules for
the changed environment. The first area that had to be addressed was determining
the equipment deploying units need to execute their assigned missions—particularly
the mission of training for the next OIF or OEF rotation. The traditional method
of ensuring that a unit has the equipment it needs is to review its modification
table of organization and equipment (MTOE), identify shortages, and order against
those shortages. However, the demand placed on the system by the rapid operating
tempo of the Army, and USAREUR in particular, required the V Corps G–4
to dig a little deeper. We asked the deploying unit commanders to determine the
equipment they needed to conduct their missions and then categorize the equipment’s
impact on their missions as critical or minor. This equipment list would include
not only MTOE-authorized equipment but also equipment required because of an
approved operational needs statement. We then used this equipment set as the
baseline for filling the equipment requirements of deploying units.
The next step in equipping the forces was to identify possible ways of obtaining
equipment to meet the requirements. The identified methods were—
• Order equipment through the supply system.
• Laterally transfer excess equipment from another V Corps unit.
• Purchase commercial off-the-shelf equipment locally.
• Laterally transfer excess equipment from other USAREUR units, including
equipment in the Theater Fleet Refurbishment Program.
• Laterally transfer authorized equipment from a nondeploying unit.
• Redirect GSRR equipment from another unit.
• Request that the equipment be identified as SBE by HQDA, which would
mean the equipment would be waiting when the unit reached Iraq or Afghanistan.
Once we had identified the equipment sources, we developed a flow chart that
laid out all of the decision points and established a hierarchy for equipment
resourcing solutions. (See chart above.) We used the chart to formalize
the process, establish a consistent methodology, and identify the priority
of methods for obtaining needed equipment. The methods chosen were, in order—
• Laterally transfer excess equipment within the deploying V Corps major
subordinate command (MSC).
• Order needed equipment through the supply system.
• Laterally transfer excess equipment from another V Corps MSC.
• Purchase equipment locally.
• Laterally transfer excess equipment from another USAREUR unit.
• Identify equipment to HQDA as an SBE request.
We also specified some situations (identified with broken lines on the chart)
that would require us to change the strategy based on each deploying unit’s
cargo ready-to-load date (RLD). In these situations, authorized equipment would
be transferred from nondeploying
units or redirected from the GSRR program to the deploying unit.
After establishing a set of business rules for resourcing strategies, we needed
a way for units to report and track strategy execution. Using the information
units provided to us, information we provided to the units, information needed
by V Corps leaders, and information that had to be reported to USAREUR, we
developed the tracking tool shown at left. We then developed the timeline and
for executing the tracking tool. Each deploying unit would have to submit the
completed form weekly. This would allow us to provide timely and accurate data
to V Corps and USAREUR, provide the latest requirements to V Corps’s materiel
management center—the 19th Support Center—and provide updates to
the deploying units.
The next step was to gather the data from the deploying units and apply the business
rules to see how effective these rules would be in meeting the unique challenges
V Corps faced.
tool was developed to document the resourcing process.
Each deploying unit submitted an updated form to
the V Corps G–4 weekly.
When V Corps units prepared to deploy to OIF 04–06 and OEF 04–06,
the unit commanders determined that they needed over 9,000 major end items. [A
two-number designator is now used to identify OIF and OEF rotations.] To demonstrate
how the process worked, I have chosen three units that posed different resourcing
challenges: Task Force 7th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment (Aviation Intermediate
Maintenance [AVIM]) (TF 7–159 AVIM); TF 165th Military Intelligence
Battalion (TF 165 MI); and 619th Movement Control Team (MCT).
TF 7–159 AVIM, which belongs to the 3d COSCOM, was directed to leave much
of its equipment in Iraq when it redeployed from OIF I. As a result, the unit
was short 153 pieces of MTOE equipment as it prepared to deploy to Afghanistan
in support of OEF 04–06. The unit commander also identified an additional
nine pieces of equipment that would be needed to support the unique requirements
of the mission in Afghanistan. The request for authorization to obtain these
items was submitted through the V Corps and USAREUR G–3 Force Management
Divisions to HQDA, where it was approved. So those nine additional items
also had to be resourced.
The first step, according to the new business rules, was to have the 3d COSCOM
review the property records of the MSCs to determine if any of the needed items
were excess in other units. This resulted in the transfer of only one piece of
equipment. The next step was to see what could be procured through the supply
system before the cargo RLD. This resulted in the identification of 51 items
as either on hand at the 200th Materiel Management Center (MMC) warehouse or
available through the Army supply system.
The next area checked was excess within other V Corps units. The V Corps
Supply and Services Division, in coordination with the 19th Support Center Equipment
Redistribution Branch, conducted a line item number (LIN) review of all required
itemsin V Corps using data from both Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE)
and the Web Logistics Integrated Data Base (WebLIDB). This resulted in the lateral
transfer of 17 pieces of equipment from units within the corps. The remaining
items were identified to the USAREUR G–4 as being unresourced within the
corps. Of these, USAREUR was able to provide an additional three pieces of equipment.
An official request for SBE was submitted for the items that USAREUR could not
provide. HQDA published Fragmentary Order 32 to Operation Order 04–01,
which provided all but two pieces of the equipment that had been requested based
on an operational needs statement submitted by 3d COSCOM. The unit commander
confirmed that, since the TF would be operating in multiple locations, the equipment
was still required to execute the mission, and the requirement was returned to
the V Corps G–4 for resourcing. Further research revealed that the only
source of the equipment was the unit that TF 7–159 AVIM would be supporting
during the deployment, so V Corps directed the task force to deploy without
the two pieces of equipment.
TF 165 MI Deployment
TF 165 MI was an ad hoc organization created by the 205th MI Brigade to support
Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) 76 in Afghanistan. It consisted of several reconfigured
companies from the 165th MI Battalion, a company from the Army Forces Command,
and a company created with new Soldiers from the Army Training and Doctrine Command.
The TF had no standard MTOE, so, with the assistance of the V Corps and USAREUR
Force Management Divisions, it created a provisional MTOE.
The provisional MTOE required 1,211 pieces of equipment. However, no excess
equipment was available within the MSC for resourcing these shortages because
was created from scratch. Moreover, the unit could not order the new items
through the supply system because the MTOE was provisional. Thus, the unit
had to begin
its equipping process by looking for excess equipment in other V Corps units.
This search identified 208 pieces of excess equipment that could be laterally
transferred. Next, 265 pieces of equipment or like items were identified
that could be purchased locally by the unit. The remaining list of items
was sent to the USAREUR G–4. USAREUR identified 45 pieces of excess
equipment that were available either from the 200th MMC warehouse or through
Fleet Refurbishment Program. A request for the remaining items was forwarded
to HQDA as an official SBE nomination. HQDA published two fragmentary orders
identifying SBE items for the task force. However, some of the requested
items were not approved as SBE, which meant that new sourcing solutions had
found. An additional 106 items were identified that could be locally purchased
52 items were added to an existing CJTF 76 fielding plan, and the last 13
items were identified as items that could be laterally transferred from nondeploying
V Corps units. TF 165th MI ultimately deployed with, or was fielded in theater,
all equipment required by the provisional MTOE.
619th MCT Deployment
The 619th MCT is a 13-person detachment that would operate semi-independently
because of the large area of responsibility and widely dispersed supply routes
in Iraq. However, since the MCT was not designed to operate independently of
a higher headquarters for force protection and command and control, it was not
equipped with the proper weapons, radios, and vehicles to support those missions.
The unit commander identified 1 piece of critical MTOE equipment that was not
on hand and 32 pieces of equipment that were required because of an approved
operational needs statement.
The 3d COSCOM found four pieces of excess equipment. One piece of equipment
was available through the supply system. Although we were unable to identify
in other V Corps units to fill any of the shortages, we arranged for four
additional items to be shipped from the continental United States and two
systems to be
added to the Blue Force Tracker System theater fielding plan. We requested
the remaining items from USAREUR. The USAREUR G–4 provided 16 pieces
of equipment, including equipment from other units, equipment returning from
the Balkans, and
equipment from the 200th MMC warehouse.
An SBE request was submitted to HQDA for the final five pieces of equipment.
However, all SBE nominations were denied because the unit was not replacing an
existing unit in theater. This required V Corps to transfer four items from nondeploying
units and USAREUR to issue one item from the 200th MMC warehouse that had previously
been designated to fill a shortage in another deploying unit. Ultimately, the
619th MCT deployed with all required MTOE equipment and all items it needed to
meet the unique challenges of its mission.
During the course of nearly 9 months of equipping the force for OIF 04–06
and OEF 04–06, V Corps modified and refined the process described above.
We realized that trying to resource all deploying units at the same time is both
cumbersome and impractical. We also found additional efficiencies in the process
of identifying possible resources. In response to these lessons learned, we decided
to divide the units deploying to OIF 05–07 and further formalize our
LIN review process for shortages. We first divided the deploying units into
bands based on their respective cargo RLDs. We began identifying and resourcing
critical equipment shortages 120 days before the unit RLDs. This allowed
us to focus on a smaller group of units and resource them before we resourced
units. Next, we began the LIN review using PBUSE and WebLIDB as soon as the
shortages were identified. This allowed the 19th Support Center to be included
in the equipment
resourcing at an earlier stage and allowed us to validate the accuracy of
reported unit data.
The new process refinements were tested immediately after the USAREUR and
V Corps prepare-to-deploy order for OIF 05–07 identified four V Corps units to
deploy. These units had between 30 and 45 days to resource all equipment shortages
before their cargo RLDs. This short notice forced us to abbreviate the established
equipping process. However, we found that, by following the same basic business
rules and applying the refinements developed during the previous 9 months, we
were still able to resource the early-deploying units successfully. Of the 58
items that the four units required, only four items in the 77th Maintenance Company
(Direct Support) could not be fully resourced. Ultimately, those shortages were
determined to have only a minor impact on the unit’s ability to conduct
operations. The other three units were resourced fully through a combination
of short-notice lateral transfers, equipment issues from the 200th MMC warehouse,
theater fielding programs, and HQDA-approved SBE.
The challenges of equipping the force for large-scale, ongoing missions require
Army logisticians to develop new ways of solving shortages. They must be
flexible and adaptive in resourcing each piece of equipment that a unit commander
to accomplish his wartime mission. The new set of business rules, tracking
tool, and subsequent refinements have allowed the V Corps G–4 to equip
33 units with over 9,000 pieces of equipment for deployments in support of
OIF and OEF.
With these business rules, we are prepared to continue to resource all future
equipment requirements. ALOG
Major Noah Hutcher is the Chief of the V Corps G–4 Supply Branch in
Heidelberg, Germany. He has a B.A. degree in architecture from the University
at Berkeley and an M.S. degree in education from Kansas State University. He
is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, the Combined Logistics Officers
Advanced Course, and the Army Command and General Staff College.