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Joint Logistics for the EUCOM AOR

In the first of two articles on joint theater logistics
concepts for the U.S. European Command area of
responsibility, the author reviews the need for
centralized logistics command and control.

This article expresses the views of the author, not the Department of Defense or any of its agencies.


Department of Defense (DOD) logistics transformation efforts and evolving joint and combined operational concepts have increased expectations for dramatically improved logistics operations through more effective, efficient, and responsive use of available theater resources. The planned force drawdown in Europe will cause the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) service components to depend increasingly on one another for logistics support. The service components can no longer afford to retain redundant force structure where joint efficiencies can be gained. However, providing joint logistics presents problems that must be addressed to ensure that joint logistics operations are effective and efficient.

Joint Logistics Problems

Findings from a variety of joint and service-sponsored assessments cite shortcomings to operational effectiveness because there is no joint theater logistics command or management capability. Relevant observations from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Deployment and Distribution Operations Center, the Defense Science Board, and the Army Science Board can be summarized in the following five categories—
• Lack of a joint logistics organization to ensure that joint logistics functions are executed in support of the theater. Joint Publication (JP) 4.0, Doctrine for Logistic Support of Joint Operations, outlines joint theater-level logistics functions, including supply; maintenance; transportation; civil engineering; health services; and other services, such as life support, postal, and finance. However, execution of these functions is typically characterized by “ad hocery” and discovery learning.
• Lack of a theater-level logistics commander. The combatant commander (COCOM) is responsible for theater-level logistics functions, but no subordinate commander is charged with executing that mission. A joint theater logistics commander is needed to provide theater logistics command and control, thereby freeing the COCOM and his J–4 to plan and coordinate long-range effects. Without an empowered logistics commander, the COCOM has no assurance that logistics operations are effectively monitored, executed, and managed and optimizing joint logistics capabilities in the theater is difficult, if not impossible.
• Inability to execute directive authority for logistics (DAFL). DAFL is a unique component of COCOM authority. Effective joint logistics cannot be achieved based on an expectation of cooperation among the services; it must be based on the COCOM’s exercising directive authority through subordinate commanders.
• Lack of logistics command and control. A logistics command and control organization is essential to making COCOM DAFL a reality. To be effective, DAFL must be a command function, not a staff function.
• The COCOM’s inability to see requirements and respond with the appropriate capabilities.

Each of these observations highlights the fact that the rate of change in logistics has failed to keep pace with the rate of change in the nature of warfare. In a 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization Research Fellowship Paper, “Coalitions of the Willing: NATO and Post-Cold War Military Intervention,” Robert P. Grant predicted, “Military operations will become even more joint or interservice in nature, and continued movement towards increasingly joint military structures will take place as well.” Although the first part of this prediction has proven true, the second has not. Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom have attested to the new nature of joint warfare, but the services continue to provide logistics support in a Cold War-era, service-stovepiped manner.

EUCOM service component logistics operations have evolved over the years to meet their own service-unique missions and statutory responsibilities. For single-service operations, an organic logistics arrangement is generally sufficient to achieve mission success. However, in joint operations, stovepiped component logistics systems are often incompatible, redundant, and ineffective for rapidly responding to the ever-changing priorities of the EUCOM commander.

The Joint Staff J–4 has concluded that, since the inception of joint military operations, joint theater logistics management often has been ineffective and inefficient. Logisticians are slow to gain visibility of requirements, and the means to quickly fill them are frustrated. It is difficult, if not impossible, to monitor joint operational logistics capabilities as they move from their source through strategic lines of communication and tactical levels to meet joint force objectives. This problem is exacerbated by the operational tempo of the Global War on Terrorism.

Real-Life Iraqi Freedom Problems

EUCOM support to Operation Iraqi Freedom provided a classic example of the problems that can arise when the COCOM does not have a single organization designated to manage joint theater logistics. In late 2002, EUCOM began deploying personnel to Ankara, Turkey, as part of EUCOM (Forward). Each EUCOM directorate sent personnel to plan and coordinate troop movement through Turkey into Iraq. The arrangement was ad hoc, with personnel rotating in and out daily. Each service, such as U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) and U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), also sent a team to Turkey to coordinate directly with the Turkish General Staff and to collaborate with the EUCOM J–4 (Forward). These missions were disjointed, had no clear objectives or continuity, and failed to provide a single face to the Turkish General Staff.

In March 2003, CENTCOM tasked EUCOM, as a supporting COCOM, to provide operational-level logistics support to the 173d Airborne Brigade from Vicenza, Italy, and Joint Special Operations Task Force-North forces operating in northern Iraq. EUCOM, in turn, tasked USAREUR and USAFE separately to execute the deployment and sustainment. However, without a single logistics commander overseeing the effort, confusion abounded. For example, when the Air Mobility Command pulled the tanker airlift control element out of Oguzeli, Turkey, it was unclear whether USAREUR or USAFE would provide a backfill capability.

Sustainment flow from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to northern Iraq switched from common-user channel support to contingency support and then back to channel support. The procedures for documenting the cargo and prioritizing and tracking the flow switched accordingly. The sustainment flights from Ramstein to northern Iraq supported both the 173d Airborne Brigade and Joint Special Operations Task Force-North. However, no one on the EUCOM staff was setting priorities of flow for the two customers. As a result, the 18 available pallet positions on the daily air transport were filled on a first-in-first-out basis rather than giving priority to supporting the customer that was more engaged in the fight. Using the first-in-first-out process often resulted in critical air capacity being wasted on nonessential cargo.

Joint Logistics Management

Some logistics business processes lend themselves to joint efficiencies; others do not. Logistics capabilities fall into three categories: service independent, service interdependent, and service interoperable. Service independent processes, such as naval replenishment at sea, are unique to a single service and are not candidates for joint logistics. Service interdependent processes are those in which multiple services depend on one another to accomplish a task. A good example is aerial port throughput, in which the Air Force lands the planes and discharges the cargo and the Army stages the cargo and clears the port. Service interdependent processes lend themselves to joint management and control. Service interoperable processes are those in which multiple services share a redundant capability, such as contingency contracting. With interoperable processes, common servicing or cross-servicing improves the efficiency of the operation. This also requires joint management and control.

Many logisticians agree that joint management and control increase synchronization and reduce redundancy in interdependent and interoperable processes. The Joint Theater Logistics Management Implementation Plan published by the Joint Staff concluded that common-user, cross-functional, and joint-functional assets and capabilities may be appropriately managed and controlled centrally at the COCOM J–4 level or by a joint theater logistics command (JTLC) rather than delegated to individual component commands.

EUCOM J–4 briefings state that efforts to improve theater logistics rely on several self-evident truths. First, a joint organizational construct must possess and execute DAFL. Second, this organization must use the reachback capabilities of the national logistics partners and the inherent capabilities of the service components. Finally, this organization must synchronize joint efforts to execute inherently joint tasks. Joint management and control does not require execution of inherently joint tasks associated with these processes, but rather synchronization of the execution. Synchronization requires visibility over each component’s role in the process and the authority to direct service components to cross-level capabilities and assets as necessary to support the COCOM’s priorities.

Managing logistics processes at the joint level is a daunting task for the COCOM. However, failure to do so will result in redundancies and a lack of synchronization of processes eligible for joint management. The COCOM needs a control mechanism empowered with the legal authority to exercise DAFL on his behalf.

Logistics Authority

Logistics authorities have their legal basis in U.S. Code (USC) and their prescribed application in joint doctrine. Title 10, USC, chapter 6, section 165(b), describes the statutory requirement for the individual military departments to provide logistics support to forces assigned to the COCOMs. Section 164 of the same chapter describes the COCOM’s combatant command authority (also called COCOM). Title 10 describes COCOM authority as the basic authority to perform those functions of command that involve organizing and employing commands and forces, assigning tasks, designating objectives, and “giving authoritative direction to subordinate commands and forces necessary to carry out missions assigned to the command, including authoritative direction over all aspects of military operations, joint training, and logistics” (emphasis added). Thus, DAFL is derived from the COCOM authority of section 164. The purpose of DAFL, according to Joint Publication 0–2, Unified Action Armed Forces, is to ensure the “effective execution of approved operation plans; effectiveness and economy of operation; and prevention or elimination of unnecessary duplication of facilities and overlapping of functions among the Service component commands.”

Although COCOM authority (and by extension DAFL) cannot be delegated or transferred without Presidential or Secretary of Defense approval, it can be exercised through subordinate joint force commanders and service or functional component commanders. Since DAFL is an element of command authority, its exercise also should be restricted to commanders rather than to staff
elements such as the J–4.

JP 0–2 gives a unified commander the authority to establish functional component commands in order to “integrate planning; reduce . . . span of control; and/or significantly improve combat efficiency, information flow, unity of effort, weapon systems management, (or) component interaction.” If a COCOM determines that logistics processes within his theater can be better synchronized and more efficient, he can establish a JTLC in accordance with JP 0–2 and specifically authorize the JTLC to exercise DAFL on his behalf for as many common support capabilities as required to accomplish the JTLC’s mission. Common support capabilities and the corresponding logistics authority may be defined as broadly or as narrowly as the COCOM desires.

Therefore, while overall responsibility for logistics support remains with the individual service components, the COCOM may exercise DAFL to promote synchronization of logistics support. Furthermore, the COCOM has the requisite legal authority to establish a JTLC to exercise DAFL on his behalf. However, this is only one of the logistics support options available to the COCOM.

Logistics Support Options

COCOMs may choose from a variety of logistics support options to fulfill the needs of their areas of responsibility (AORs). The logistics support system must operate in harmony with the structure and employment of the combat forces it supports. Whenever feasible, chains of command and staffs in a non-contingency environment should be organized as they would be in wartime to avoid reorganization in the midst of a contingency. Options for support include—

Each service component provides its own logistics.
Title 10, USC, chapter 6, section 165(b), requires the individual military departments to provide logistics support to their forces assigned to the COCOMs.

Having each service provide its own logistics yields clear command and control arrangements, alleviates Title 10 concerns, and gives the component commander the greatest logistics flexibility. However, this method results in redundancy and wasted resources while limiting the flexibility of the COCOM. This is the current method of choice in the EUCOM AOR, except for common-user functions identified in EUCOM Directive 60–11, Common User Logistics in the USEUCOM AOR, and the functional logistics boards, centers, and offices at the EUCOM level.

A lead service oversees common-user logistics functions.
Common-user logistics is defined in JP 1–02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, as “Materiel or service support shared with or provided by two or more Services, Department of Defense (DOD) agencies, or multinational partners to another Service, DOD agency, non-DOD agency, and/or multinational partner in an operation. Common-user logistics is usually restricted to a particular type of supply and/or service and may be further restricted to specific unit(s) or types of units, specific times, missions, and/or geographic areas.” EUCOM Directive 60–11 assigns lead service and agency responsibilities for seven functions (aerial ports, ocean cargo terminals, organic military highways, customs, traffic management, mortuary services, and base operations support) in 33 countries (resulting in 231 total assignments), which still does not cover the entire AOR. With the potential for short-notice expeditionary operations to new countries, sorting out lead service and agency responsibilities can waste precious time. The COCOM would not have a single organization responsible for logistics, but rather various services or agencies to which a laundry list of functions are parceled out in unequal measures.

CENTCOM tried to use a lead-service arrangement for contracting but found this method less desirable than a joint contracting command. CENTCOM stated during a joint theater logistics meeting hosted by the Joint Staff that the lead-service arrangement had no mechanism for tracking contingency contracting purchases. Contracting officers were empowered by their services to spend operations and maintenance funds. These expenditures often were not in line with COCOM priorities, and there was virtually no visibility on this spending.

An appointed executive agent provides logistics support to all services.
Executive agency is similar in nature to a lead service for common-user logistics but differs in level of appointment. “Executive agent” is a term used to indicate a delegation of authority by the Secretary of Defense to a subordinate, such as a military department or Defense agency, to act on the Secretary’s behalf. Designation as an executive agent, in and of itself, confers no authority. The exact nature and scope of the authority delegated must be stated in the document designating the executive agent. An executive agent may only provide administration and support or coordinate common functions, or it may be delegated authority, direction, and control over specified resources for specified purposes. Executive agency, like a lead-service arrangement, reduces redundancy but results in fragmented responsibility. Since executive agency is designated by the Secretary of Defense to the services themselves, it may not be in line with a COCOM’s needs or desires for logistics organization.

An expanded J–4 staff coordinates joint logistics effects.
The COCOM may choose to coordinate joint logistics effects through his J–4 staff. EUCOM has had several operational-level centers and offices, including the Intratheater Commercial Transportation Branch, the Joint Movements Center, the Joint Petroleum Office, and the Joint Blood Program Office. In May 2005, EUCOM established the EUCOM Deployment and Distribution Operations Center (EDDOC) by combining the Intratheater Commercial Transportation Branch and the Joint Movements Center. The EDDOC enhances the J–4’s ability to link strategic deployment and distribution processes to operational requirements.

In a contingency, the EDDOC’s scope expands to include the Joint Logistics Operations Center, which oversees engineering, materiel readiness, contracting, fuel, and ammunition functions. Unfortunately, to exercise any semblance of DAFL, the EDDOC must prepare a tasking message for the J–3 to issue to the component commands. Although expanding the J–4 staff to achieve joint effects should result in a clear understanding of J–3 guidance and priorities, placing the operational burden on the J–4 staff results in a cumbersome application of DAFL and diminishes the staff’s ability to concentrate on long-range planning.

A JTLC coordinates joint logistics effects.
The COCOM’s fifth option is to create a single logistics command responsible for coordinating and executing joint theater logistics. This reduces the redundancies that exist when each service component provides its own logistics, gives the COCOM a single organization to integrate, prioritize, and synchronize joint theater logistics, improves coordination with coalition partners, and provides a command and control architecture that can rapidly expand and deploy during a large-scale contingency. Potential disadvantages include a loss of flexibility and control by service components, increased service manpower costs if the JTLC fails to eliminate duplication of effort, and a perceived layering of logistics authority.

U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) is currently experimenting with the concept of a joint logistics command for the Korean peninsula. In partnership with the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the U.S. Pacific Command, and the U.S. Transportation Command, USFK is conducting a series of war games to determine the most effective method for the USFK commander to exercise command and control over operational-level logistics.

Although all of these methods, except the one in which services provide their own support exclusively, may achieve some joint effects, the efficiency and effectiveness of each varies. The problems EUCOM has encountered while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom overwhelmingly support a single entity responsible for theater logistics. Furthermore, the Defense Science Board’s conclusion that “to be effective, logistics must be a function of command rather than staff” and the legal discussion that COCOM authority (and thus DAFL) can be exercised only through commanders eliminate using an expanded J–4 staff to coordinate joint logistics effects as an effective solution. Thus, a command and control arrangement such as a JTLC is the only option that fully addresses the observations and shortcomings experienced during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Perhaps it is time for EUCOM to try this novel approach so that it will not have to scramble to establish an ad hoc joint logistics structure after joining the battle. COCOMs must train as they fight and posture themselves for success before the next battle begins.

A follow-on article on emerging Joint Theater Logistics Command/Joint Force Support Component Command concepts, their relationships to other theater commands, and their role in a contingency will be published in the next issue of Army Logistician. ALOG

Randy S. Kendrick is a joint logistics planner with the U.S. Army Europe G–4 Logistics Transformation Planning Task Force. He has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Grove City College in Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in business administration from Cameron University in Oklahoma. He is a graduate of the Army Logistics Management College’s Logistics Executive Development Course.