Let him who desires peace prepare for war.
Flavius Vegetius Renatus
Roman military strategist
Preparing for a Special Operations Forces (SOF) mission is a little different from preparing for a conventional mission. However, logistics is as important in an SOF mission as it is for any other military operation. Determining and obtaining what is needed for an operation and delivering it when and where it is needed are even more critical in a time of fiscal constraints such as the Army is experiencing now.
The "special" part of preparing for an SOF mission calls for the development of a statement of requirements (SOR). Each mission is unique and requires a mission-specific analysis to develop a tailored sustainment force. Each SOR identifies, consolidates, and prioritizes all unit requirements that exceed organic capabilities. The intent of the SOR is to ensure that each SOF unit or task force develops and submits a comprehensive and valid list of requirements early in the planning cycle. Planners should not view SORs as wish lists or simple supply requests but as actual unit requirements for a specific mission.
To develop an SOR, logistics planners and operators must coordinate closely to forecast the requirements of a mission and outline those that exceed unit organic capabilities. The planners start the process by conducting a logistics preparation of the theater. This requires a review of force requirements and visibility of the assets already in the area of operations. Then organic capabilities must be reconciled against mission requirements and theater assets. The SOR may include major end items that are not authorized or not on hand, consumable supplies, money for Military Interdepartmental Purchase Requests, and additional commercial equipment.
A number of other logistics functions, ranging from facilities to services to security, must be considered when drafting an SOR. A list of these functions could serve as a logistics checklist when planning for an SOF mission. Many are outlined in appendix A of Field Manual (FM) 100-25, Doctrine for Army
Special Operations Forces, and those that are mission essential should be included in the SOR.
For a typical SOF mission, operators and logisticians develop an SOR, forward it through S3/G3/J3 channels for validation, and then send it on to the next higher headquarters. The chart at left shows the process used by my former unit, the 4th Psychological Operations Group, to validate an SOR and forward it to the next higher headquarters for resourcing.
The SOR also must be kept up to date. When an SOF unit receives supplies and equipment, the SOR must be reconciled accordingly to ensure that the unit is supported properly. This includes adding durable items to the unit property book, which is important to maintaining property accountability and ensuring the ultimate success of the unit's missions.
There are no specific formatting requirements for an SOR. The nomenclature of a required item, its unit of issue, when it is required, and the number of units requested are some of the mandatory data fields. One handy format for compiling this information is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. In this format, information can be maintained easily and transmitted electronically. The spreadsheet also serves as historical documentation of requirements.
|An example of the Excel spreadsheet that shows the rollup of the SOR for support of the Kosovo Peacekeeping Force.|
The chart above is an example of the Excel spreadsheet that was used to show the rollup of the SOR for support of the Kosovo Peacekeeping Force (KFOR) in 1999. Each battalion's spreadsheet of requirements was under the cover spreadsheet. This format allowed items posted in the property book to be tracked, ensured validation of requested items, and provided an audit trail for resource management purposes.
Below the Army Special Operations Command headquarters level, SORs are forwarded, validated, and reconciled according to each unit's standing operating procedures. Many battalion- and brigade-sized SOF units use the SOR for operation and contingency planning. SOF are used more now than ever before in stability and support operations, as outlined in the new FM 3-0, Operations. Military experts agree that, in the future, most conflicts will be characterized by an increase in special operations missions. Therefore, an SOR must be produced, forwarded, and validated during the planning for each mission. When SOF are attached to a supporting major Army command joint task force, an SOR is used to capture costs, and it is a helpful historical document for planning future operations.
Logisticians, especially field grade officers, should know how to plan and execute support of SOF. Although different from support of conventional forces, support of SOF is equally important. Often, SOF are involved with executing both operational- and strategic-level missions, so it is imperative that logisticians understand what an SOR is and how it supports SOF. The SOR is the SOF logistician's primary tracking tool for ensuring mission support. A properly planned, developed, and maintained SOR will help ensure mission accomplishment in all areas of operations. ALOG
Major O. Shawn Cupp is a logistics instructor in the Directorate of Logistics and Resource Operations at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College. He previously served as the S4 of the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and as the S3 of the 501st Corps Support Group at Camp Red Cloud, Korea.