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The Sustain Warfighters’ Forum: Sharing What You Know

For a moment, I ask you to consider the following challenges taking place everyday in our Army—

  • A second lieutenant is looking for the latest doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures for logistics convoy operations.
  • A colonel wants to know how human resource management is being integrated with current sustainment operations.
  • A specialist deployed in Iraq is having difficulty opening online technical manuals and ordering sight adapters.
  • A major in a brigade support battalion is looking for sample tactical standing operating procedures he can leverage as his unit prepares to deploy.
  • A warrant officer class producing a supply guide wants to solicit feedback from counterparts in the operational force.
  • A redeployed sustainment brigade staff wants to share best practices and lessons learned with other organ-izations preparing for deployment.
  • A Department of the Army (DA) civilian at the Army Materiel Command (AMC) wants to provide information on mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles to the field.

Topics may vary, but even in these few examples, one resounding theme stands out: We need to improve on sharing what we know with others in the Operating and Generating Forces.

The volatility of the operational environment, coupled with advancements in technology, has outpaced our historical approach of relying solely on email, traditional websites, and physical gatherings as the primary means of exchanging knowledge. These methods still play an important part, but we all know inboxes are full, too many websites exist, and location-specific events cannot adequately satisfy our daily mission knowledge needs. If they did, we would not encounter the many knowledge gaps exemplified above.

Today, Active and Reserve component commanders, staff, and Soldiers want to readily collaborate—synchronously and asynchronously—with each other and with members of other Army organizations, in settings commensurate with their operational missions, functions, and operating tempo. They need simple but effective tools that provide access not only to those who “know what” but also to those who “know how” and “know who” by using “virtual rolodexes” of subject-matter experts, coaches, and mentors. Likewise, those of us in the Generating Force who serve and support operational sustainment formations need to actively contribute our wealth of doctrine, training, education, and combat development expertise by engaging in these knowledge-sharing venues, with an ear toward listening and responding to questions, and sharing operational insights, best practices, and lessons learned.

The Sustain Warfighters’ Forum (Sustain WfF) is our approach to achieving this vision. In partnership with DA G–4, AMC, and the Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) G–4, the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) has established the Sustain WfF to provide the entire sustainment and logistics community with an array of knowledge products and services. Commanders, staffs, Soldiers, and DA civilians now have a single entry point to a number of interdependent websites, document repositories, and collaboration enablers. Hot topics are visible to all, with easy navigation to unique Operating and Generating Force domains. Direct access to communities, discussion forums, lessons learned interviews, multimedia products, and lifelong learning courseware is available, and every user has the ability to “ask now” to get immediate responses to critical questions and concerns arising in the field. We have even provided the means for any user to schedule and execute online meetings, and we will use this tool to routinely conduct Sustain WfF leader symposiums and other events with Operating and Generating Force organizations.

The Sustain WfF is our part of a larger Warfighting Forum vision, led by commanding generals, the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), FORS-COM, and AMC. The FORSCOM G–4 has recently directed all Soldiers in operational sustainment and logistics units to use the Sustain WfF. This significantly increases our obligation to fully engage in performing our knowledge-sharing roles. Every member of the CASCOM staff, faculty, and schools should be routinely using the Sustain WfF, and we must now embed this enabler within our training base, ensuring that all Soldiers graduating from CASCOM schools are competent in using the Sustain WfF in their operational assignments and are benefiting from the knowledge reach-back to their proponent schools. Over the next year, we must also incorporate the Sustain WfF into the Sustainment Center of Excellence (SCOE) model command post, sustainment training exercises, and other collective training venues to ensure that operational sustainment commanders and staffs can rapidly share insights, best practices, and lessons learned with each other, the SCOE, and other organizations.

I challenge each of you to use the Sustain WfF to share what you know. I can assure you there’s a Soldier out there who needs it. Users can access Sustain WfF at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page

Major General James E. Chambers is the commanding general of the Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee, Virginia.