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Development and Execution of the TAMP

The January–February 2004 issue of Army Logistician contained an article by Craig A. Simonds on “The Role of Civilians During the First Gulf War.” As a defense contractor who participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I was particularly interested in his discussion of the Army Aviation Systems Command’s theater aviation maintenance program (TAMP). I agree that contractors are required to support future operations across the spectrum of conflict, and I concur with Simonds’ conclusion and suggested challenges. In fact, I would like to corroborate his opinion about the critical and cooperative nature of the development and execution of the TAMP, as I was a contributor to that force multiplier. [Editor’s note: The Army Aviation Systems Command (AVSCOM) was merged with the Army Troop Support Command in 1992, creating the Army Aviation and Troop Command (ATCOM). In 1997, ATCOM was merged with the Army Missile Command to form what is now the Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM).]

To refresh my memory about my experiences, I dusted off and reread a paper on the TAMP that I prepared a few years ago for a graduate course. In that paper, I discussed how the 16 “Principles of Logistics” found in Dr. James A. Huston’s heralded book, The Sinews of War: Army Logistics 1775–1953, played an important role in the operation of the TAMP. Those principles are equivalence, materiel precedence, forward impetus, mobility, dispersion, economy, feasibility, flexibility, relativity, continuity, timeliness, responsibility, unity of command, information, quality, and simplicity.

Although that paper was written in the early 1990’s, it confirmed that the TAMP was a creative and cooperative success. Lessons learned from the TAMP are being applied to various degrees in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Defining Contract Logistics

Logistics support must be adequate, simple, flexible, and efficient to meet the customer’s needs. Logistics support provides what is needed, when, where, and in the condition and quantity required, with the minimum expenditure of resources. This definition is the “bottom line” of Huston’s principles.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of helicopters. Through its Total Program Approach to logistics, Sikorsky and its worldwide subsidiaries practice the type of logistics support that is embodied in Huston’s Principles of Logistics. Sikorsky provides assistance in areas such as engineering, integrated logistics support, and technical services. These services encompass logistics support analysis, training and technical publication development, supply support, inventory control, security, human resources management, legal support, overhaul and repair, and in-country maintenance teams. Such interfunctional support reflects the application of Huston’s principles of equivalence, materiel precedence, dispersion, economy, relativity, continuity, quality, unity of command, and, most importantly, responsibility.

The Total Program Approach to logistics also can be implemented with a key strategic in-country partner, subcontractor, or associate contractor to support localization, training, and industrial cooperation initiatives. Again, Huston’s principles—most notably flexibility, feasibility, timeliness, and relativity—can be applied.

Because of economic pricing and legal liability requirements, Sikorsky supports its customers worldwide through its logistics support subsidiaries. One of the most important is Sikorsky International Products, Inc. (SIPI). Operating under two foreign military sales (FMS) contracts with the Army, SIPI provided maintenance and personnel support services from 1989 through 1994 to the Royal Saudi Land Forces Army Aviation Command (RSLFAAC).

Making the Contracts Work

To fulfill its contracts, SIPI hired qualified professionals and deployed them to King Khalid Military City (KKMC) and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. In accordance with U.S. Government requirements to supply and maintain 21 UH–60A/L Desert Hawk helicopt-ers (modified versions of the Black Hawk) and 15 CS–406 Combat Scout helicopters for the RSLFAAC, SIPI developed numerous management, human resources, training, financial, supply, and maintenance operating procedures. SIPI also programmed an automated data processing system to function as an RSLFAAC central inventory control point for supply transactions.

SIPI initiated common-core classroom aviation instruction and continued progressive training of RSLFAAC students. All formal classroom and on-the-job training was based on standard Army programs of instruction that had been specifically tailored by SIPI for RSLFAAC students.

Customer unit managers were able to assess student development using a SIPI-designed student progress tracking system that efficiently linked the manufacturers of the RSLFAAC’s aircraft fleet to the students. Using applicable communications security, the system provided performance and maintenance data from KKMC to Sikorsky and other manufacturers and to AVSCOM on a controlled, limited-access basis. These data helped the students and the manufacturers to control aircraft configuration; analyze trends; provide additional spare and support equipment setup and technical assistance when required; and assist in issuing alert bulletins, technical publication updates, training courseware changes, safety of flight messages, and engineering change proposals.

Depot repair data were tracked and retrieved daily through the Supply Tracking and Reparable Returns-Personal Computer (STARR–PC) communications system, which allowed customers to send requisitions, status requests, and messages to the Army Security Assistance Command by modem from a standard personal computer. Every week, SIPI provided customers with a depot repair master list to document all the items in the repair cycle. The computer-based tracking and retrieval system provided an inexpensive, automated way to track the status of parts in the depot repair cycle. Data were transmitted through the Defense Automatic Addressing System Center inquiry system in a secure mode using the Security Assistance Command database to screen users.


Because of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, pertinent United Nations resolutions, and the commitment of U.S. and coalition forces, SIPI, like other contractors operating in Saudi Arabia, would support operations during wartime. SIPI management received a request from AVSCOM to meet immediately in St. Louis, Missouri, to discuss and assess the potential use of SIPI assets to support Army aviation assets in the context of a TAMP. AVSCOM would practice Huston’s principle of equivalence by recognizing logistics necessities in all plans and organizations.

Initial meetings between SIPI managers and the AVSCOM command group and emergency operations center personnel took place on 12 August 1990. As discussion topics progressed from high-level concepts to organizational and logistics details, members of the AVSCOM security assistance and procurement communities became involved in the meetings. This was excellent; it meant that the real implementers of the TAMP-related activities were on board early (a demonstration by AVSCOM of Huston’s unity of command and responsibility principles).

By the morning of 13 August, conceptual templates for operations and logistics estimates and preliminary statements of work had been drawn up. AVSCOM hastily drafted and staffed correspondence in which the Chief of the U.S. Military Training Mission in Saudi Arabia was asked to request that the Commanding General of the RSLFAAC authorize AVSCOM to modify the FMS contract with SIPI in support of the soon-to-be-named Operation Desert Shield.

Response to this message was swift and affirmative. By 15 August, AVSCOM emergency operations center planners had notified the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics of AVSCOM’s roles and missions in developing the TAMP and its intention to use SIPI to assist with the effort. Major “hard-to-do” issues included the segregation of RSLFAAC FMS case funds and U.S. Army costs in one contract, emergency-essential contractual provisions, and hazardous duty pay.

For AVSCOM, expansion of the FMS personnel support services subcontract to include the TAMP operation was unusual and construction of housing units, heliports, and security systems was unfamiliar. Nonetheless, the AVSCOM–SIPI team persevered.

AVSCOM and Security Assistance Command legal and procurement professionals had to separate the FMS contract under which SIPI was already performing and the TAMP effort that it was to undertake. Starting with a statement of work and contract line item numbers, the AVSCOM and SIPI managers carved out a bilateral modification to the existing contract that would effectively sequester these two efforts from each other. Once the terms of the modification were understood, SIPI divided its workforce to account appropriately for each project. It changed its financial disclosure statement for the benefit of future U.S. Government and Saudi tax audits, revised numerous functional department procedures to process requirements for the new project, rapidly hired additional personnel, and, most importantly, amended the security procedures. Various subcontracts were modified, including the personnel support services subcontract. SIPI required the personnel support services subcontractor to establish and use a separate subsidiary to perform TAMP-related efforts.

SIPI management staffs in the continental United States (CONUS) and Riyadh came together as one cohesive unit, sometimes geographically, but always in spirit. Unity of command, centralized planning, and decentralized execution were standard practices. Such fusion was essential to the success of SIPI’s overall mission in a crisis-management scenario and in keeping up with the ever-increasing and never fully anticipated workload.

Emergency Essential Clause

AVSCOM planners were faced with another contractual dilemma: They could contract with SIPI and other contractors for services in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, but how could AVSCOM assure its customers, such as the U.S. Army Central Command (ARCENT) and the 22nd Support Command, that the contractors would perform in the Kuwaiti theater of operations in the event of hostilities? This was a very sensitive issue during August and September.

Contractors consulted with one another; information flow was critical. SIPI discussed this issue with McDonnell Douglas Services, the Boeing Corporation, BDM Corporation, DynCorp, and others and consulted various Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of State components on the subject. Equipped with legal guidance from the Security Assistance Command, AVSCOM devised contractual language that complied with Federal Acquisition Regulations and DOD guidance concerning continued performance during crisis situations. This clause in the contract, which came to be known as the “emergency-essential” clause, directed SIPI to comply with the requirement. It caused extreme debate among Sikorsky senior legal and executive-level management personnel about the liabilities that Sikorsky might incur by placing its civilian workforce in potential jeopardy.

Other contractors also had to assess the risk potential involved. The debate continued as SIPI briefed its workforce at KKMC on the new requirement for them to continue to perform in the event of hostilities and continued to increase its TAMP operations. AVSCOM also had difficulty administering the SIPI FMS contract in light of the emergency-essential clause. Although the clause provided for the necessary travel, access, and protection of SIPI and other contractors and allowed them to conduct business in the Kuwaiti theater of operations, many security assistance and procurement personnel did not know how to implement it.

From an operational perspective, SIPI had an extensive statement of work to perform in a compressed timeframe—mid-August through December. Starting with a four-page requirements document drafted by personnel of AVSCOM’s Maintenance Directorate and SIPI planners in St. Louis, the TAMP was forged. Huston’s principles of flexibility, economy, forward impetus, continuity, timeliness, quality, and simplicity were the watchwords throughout this process.

TAMP Mission and Organization

The TAMP mission was to provide organizational, intermediate, and limited depot-level maintenance of aircraft and their engines and components; implement modification work orders; provide technical assistance to aviation units; establish special repair activities; provide supply and personnel support services; and control Army aviation intensively managed items.

To perform this mission, the TAMP-Southwest Asia (SWA) would be divided into three distinct operating units based on geography and technical capabilities and the Army’s time-honored, effective method of supplying from the rear.

As a part of the TAMP mission, select SIPI managers and technical experts performed several site surveys in Riyadh, Dhahran, Jubail, and Damman, Saudi Arabia, in August. SIPI sent photographs and site drawings of potential TAMP locations back to the AVSCOM decisionmakers and briefed deployed AVSCOM TAMP program management personnel in Dhahran and the staff of ARCENT
TAMP–SWA Base. TAMP–SWA Base, which was located in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, functioned as the inventory control point for U.S. Army aviation stocks in the theater. TAMP–SWA Base had large, new hangar facilities provided by another AVSCOM contractor. A host nation company had support shops there and secure access to ramps and runways for rapid movement of supplies arriving from CONUS. The site also included a high-value special repair activity and engine test-cell equipment, as well as an expansive stockage of spare, consumable, and repair parts for helicopters.

TAMP–SWA Forward. Once Damman was chosen as the location for the TAMP–SWA Forward, the site had to be leased and improved to accommodate helicopter operations and maintenance activities. SIPI worked with its subcontractor, a Saudi-owned company with dedicated leaders and a technically proficient staff knowledgeable in U.S. Government procurement regulations, to accomplish the improvements. The transformation of the site, which had been used as a heavy vehicle maintenance garage, a pre-cast cement-forming yard, and a plumbing supply warehouse, went well. The subcontracting and host nation support AVSCOM received through SIPI was hectic but better than some other Army contracting experiences involving Saudi companies.

TAMP–SWA Forward-KKMC. TAMP–SWA Forward-KKMC was the third SIPI operations site. There, SIPI’s mission was to provide facilities; personnel support; freight forwarding services; vehicles, including motor pool operations; housing; computer equipment; security; telecommunications; water; waste removal; petroleum, oils, and lubricants; construction services; supply personnel to manage the aviation intensively managed items; and other services related to aviation support. DynCorp field team personnel performed aviation maintenance, and the 1109th Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot (AVCRAD), an Army National Guard unit from Groton, Connecticut, performed doctrinal duties. Other defense contractors, Army Materiel Command logistics assistance representatives, and AVSCOM personnel also assisted in the operation.

Before Operation Desert Shield, the entire U.S. presence at KKMC consisted of 80 SIPI employees and a 15-member technical assistance field team (TAFT) from the Army. Since it was only 70 kilometers from the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border, KKMC was a lonely and insecure place during the initial phases of Operation Desert Shield.

KKMC quickly evolved into what the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense and Aviation had envisioned—a vast logistics base from which to defend Saudi Arabia. A seemingly endless number of U.S., French, Moroccan, and Saudi convoys and contracted vehicles traversed the base access roads, as well as the two main supply routes—Dodge and Sultan—which were 522 and 442 kilometers long, respectively. These convoys and others that brought the VII Corps to KKMC, along with airlift traffic, were all dedicated to preparing KKMC and nearby logistics bases for the ground offensive that was to take place in
February 1991.

The whole process—from conceptual development, through site surveys, proposals, negotiations, award of contractual modifications, and the start of work to the first aircraft flight into the TAMP–SWA Forward–KKMC—took 45 days. Huston’s principle of timeliness was pushed to the extreme of its definition. The job could not have been accomplished if SIPI and its associated contractors, such as DynCorp, had not possessed the experience and flexibility to respond to a somewhat vague and always developing requirement from the Army. Nor could this operation have stood up without the unheralded efforts of the AVSCOM procurement and logistics professionals. These professional civil servants and their military counterparts received little recognition, yet they worked alongside SIPI and other contractors 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, both in CONUS and Saudi Arabia. They thought beyond the conventional paradigms, yet they embodied the Principles of Logistics. These personnel were innovative and empowered; they honored their commitments to the contractors and to their Nation. The TAMP was a success because of the camaraderie, trust, and speed of execution that existed among the members of the AVSCOM–SIPI team.

Desert Storm Operations

As Desert Shield transformed into Desert Storm, SIPI was again called on to perform according to the provisions of its FMS TAMP–SWA Forward contract. The RSLFAAC was required by the Ministry of Defense and Aviation to move one of its small helicopter battalions forward to a point west of the Wadi Al Batin near the intersection of the Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Iraqi borders. (A wadi is a valley, gully, or streambed that is dry except during the rainy season.) The RSLFAAC called on SIPI and the TAFT for assistance in establishing two forward area rearming and refueling points (FARPs). SIPI surveyed possible locations and recommended two sites approximately 10 kilometers from the border area (again demonstrating the principles of flexibility, feasibility, and forward impetus).

Revising their security plans again, SIPI and the TAFT set up two FARPs to support the RSLFAAC. SIPI employees and the TAFT developed the equipment packages needed to maintain the RSLFAAC helicopters in the field. Once communication codes were established, SIPI employee volunteers deployed to the FARPs with the TAFT and the RSLFAAC to maintain the aircraft. The FARP support was quite successful, and the RSLFAAC was credited with destroying a number of Iraqi bunkers with their tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missiles fired from CS–406 helicopters. The RSLFAAC also launched UH–60 A/L Desert Hawk helicopters from these FARPs, and they were the first Saudi troops to enter the Kuwait Airport area during the
ground campaign.

In Damman, the AVSCOM TAMP–SWA Forward commander realized that the distance to KKMC and the density of Army aircraft in the surrounding vicinity excessively stretched his lines of communication. Offloading of newly arriving VII Corps assets also was becoming a strain on TAMP operations. To become more efficient and serve its customers better, the TAMP–SWA Forward moved certain of its elements to KKMC and to an area known as the west heliport in Dhahran.

Adapting once again to changing logistics requirements, SIPI and other TAMP contractors, with the concurrence of the TAMP–SWA Forward commander and the AVSCOM procurement community, moved assets into an area on a vacant airstrip adjacent to the SIPI–KKMC housing compound. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, this airstrip was reconstituted and used first by French helicopter units and then by U.S. Army aviation units. Because of its location, TAMP–SWA Forward-KKMC provided excellent maintenance, resupply, and retrograde capabilities (demonstrating economy, forward impetus, relativity, mobility, timeliness, and flexibility.) SIPI erected clamshell buildings, portable offices, and security and communication systems at TAMP–SWA Forward-KKMC for use by AVSCOM, maintenance contractors, and the onsite AVCRAD.

SIPI also was charged with similar tasks at the west heliport in Dhahran. Additional long-haul vehicles were leased and managed by SIPI to support these unforeseen requirements. SIPI’s partnership with the Army proved to be a true, steadfast relationship. No requirement AVSCOM envisioned was impossible for SIPI, including construction services. Despite the tempo of operations, the AVSCOM managers also always came through for SIPI, such as when SIPI needed additional global positioning systems for the FARPs, more mission-orientated protective posture equipment for the personnel support services subcontractor, and additional funds for unanticipated overtime costs and the movement of dependents.

With discipline and controlled improvisation, SIPI continued to support TAMP operations, including retrograding inventory, dismantling clamshells,
and washing aircraft before demobilization from Saudi Arabia, until final contract closeout in September 1991.

The coalition won the Gulf War for many reasons much less visible than those portrayed widely in the media. Among them were superior training, superior command and control, and superior logistics. None of these factors are easy to evaluate objectively or numerically. Numerical assessments reveal how many lines of supply were handled, how many aircraft were maintained, how many modification work orders were executed, and how many vehicles traveled how many miles carrying how many tons. However, it is difficult to codify the corporate strength of a contractor for staying in a hostile environment and having its employees come under attack by SCUD missiles or be taken hostage, all the while responding to increased and unanticipated customer demands. (A SCUD missile was destroyed by a Patriot missile over the SIPI housing compound in February 1991, and the remains fell into the compound. SIPI had two personnel in Kuwait at the time of the Iraqi invasion, and they became hostages until their return in December 1990.)

For its support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and the RSLFAAC, SIPI received awards from the 22d Support Command and the Army Aviation Association of America, and several SIPI employees received AVSCOM Commander’s Medals for their performance at the TAMP. SIPI received high award fee ratings on the maintenance support services contract, which was a cost-plus-award-fee contract, as well as praise from AVSCOM.

SIPI was asked to submit after-action reports so Army aviation logisticians could benefit in the future from the information they contained. One such report detailed the TAMP–SWA Forward operation in Damman, noted deficiencies, and made recommendations on a broad range of topics, including supply, security, communications, cultural issues, and procurement. However, the overarching recommendation was that the TAMP concept be included in contingency planning for all operations involving Army aviation assets in a theater of operations.

This recommendation was echoed by Joseph P. Cribbins, who was then Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics. When asked by the AVSCOM Command Historian if he thought the Army should incorporate the TAMP in future operations, Cribbins replied that he thought the TAMP was “one hell of a good idea; a precursor for the way to do things [in Army aviation] in the future.” It obviously was. ALOG

Joseph L. Homza is the Logistics Program Manager for international military H–60 helicopter programs at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. He participated as a defense contractor in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and in other operations in Kuwait, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. More recently, he supported U.S. and coalition operations in Turkey. He has a B.A. degree in political science from Boston College, a master’s certificate in international affairs from Washington University, and a master’s degree in defense program management from American Military University. He is a graduate of the Army Logistics Management College’s Logistics Executive Development and Support Operations Courses.