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Distribution is the Center of Gravity for Success

The Army is transforming to maintain U.S. military preeminence in the face of unpredictable changes in the strategic security environment. This transformation focuses on current and emerging strategic and operational challenges. To achieve success on the battlefield, the Army must continually transform and seek innovations to defeat future adversaries on the battlefield.

In order to provide the logistics support needed to sustain combat units, the Army has formed modular sustainment brigades for sustaining its modular brigade combat teams (BCTs). The 15th Sustainment Brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, is one of the newly reflagged sustainment brigades. The 15th Sustainment Brigade deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in August 2006. In garrison, the brigade has a brigade troops battalion and a personnel services battalion in its task organization. However, once deployed, the 15th Sustainment Brigade gained three combat sustainment support battalions.

Logistics Center of Gravity

The 15th Sustainment Brigade’s mission was to provide direct support to units operating in the Multi-National Division-Baghdad (MND–B) area of operations (AO). Providing support to the units in the MND–B AO was difficult, but it was critical to the success of Coalition Forces. Arguably the most important mission performed by the 15th Sustainment Brigade was the transportation and distribution mission supporting the BCTs at all of the forward operating bases (FOBs) in its area of responsibility. The transportation officers, noncommissioned officers, and Soldiers in the brigade were referred to in the brigade as the “logistics center of gravity” for MND–B. Joint Publication 5–0, Joint Operation Planning, defines the friendly center of gravity as “. . . the capabilities, characteristics, or sources of power from which the force derives it strength, freedom of action, and will to act.” These capabilities are exactly what the truck drivers, cargo handlers, and transportation planners provided daily at both the battalion and brigade levels.

Each day, 15th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers conducted combat logistics patrols (CLPs), delivering all classes of supply, including mail, to all of the BCTs and nondivisional units based on FOBs in the MND–B AO. These CLPs delivered all of the commodities that allowed the BCTs to conduct operations. Although mail is not critical for mission execution, it is very important for the Soldiers’ morale. The 15th Sustainment Brigade made mail a priority and scheduled daily mail delivery to the units by either ground or air.

Even though the brigade’s mission was to provide direct support to the MND–B AO, 15th Sustainment Brigade troops supported various missions throughout Iraq. They traveled as far south as Diwaniyah, as far north as Mosul, and as far west as Al Asad to support unit moves and short-notice missions that required unit equipment and cargo to be moved quickly to respond to operational requirements. In less than 6 months, the 15th Sustainment Brigade drove more than 2,147,213 miles and had more than 3,672 Soldiers on the road conducting missions.

Central Receiving and Shipping Points

The 15th Sustainment Brigade operated two central receiving and shipping points (CRSPs), one at Victory Base Complex (VBC) and the other at Camp Taji. The VBC CRSP, which was much smaller in area than most, was one of the busiest CRSP yards in theater. When the surge of units into theater brought two additional BCTs to Camp Taji, the Taji CRSP also experienced a dramatic increase in the volume of cargo that it processed. Between September 2006 and April 2007, the Taji and VBC CRSP yards together retrograded over 5,000 pieces of cargo to Kuwait and processed over 45,717 pieces of cargo that were delivered to and from the CRSP yards.

The CRSP yards handled all classes of supply except class V (ammunition). Data on all cargo that came into the yard were entered into a database and sent to the brigade support operations transportation officer in charge. The officer in charge created a consolidated report that he sent to the movement control battalion, providing cargo visibility for all units within the Iraqi theater. The data were also used when assigning internal CLPs and coordinating for external transportation. The Soldiers who worked at the CRSP yards ensured that cargo was placed in the appropriate lane for onward movement to the final destination.

The Soldiers who operated the CRSP yards were just as important as the troops on the road since they spent countless hours processing cargo, delivering cargo to local units, and ensuring that all materiel in the CRSP had radio frequency identification tags with the proper data to provide in-transit visibility as cargo moved into theater.


In February 2007, MND–B began emplacing joint security stations and combat outposts throughout Baghdad. The joint security stations are intended to give the Iraqi National Police a secure area from which to respond to situations. The 15th Sustainment Brigade supported the joint security station and combat outpost missions by transporting barriers to each joint security station and combat outpost location. In just 4 months, the 15th Sustainment Brigade delivered over 7,000 barriers of various sizes, creating secure bases of operation for the BCTs and Iraqi National Police. This was a critical mission for the BCTs and MND–B, and the 15th Sustainment Brigade was a key part of mission success. Working hand-in-hand with both the combat units and combat engineers, 15th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers made Baghdad safer for everyone.

The 15th Sustainment Brigade supported the action by providing world-class transportation support to MND–B units and other units throughout Iraq. This support provided by the 15th Sustainment Brigade ensured that no operational missions failed because of logistics constraints.

Major Aaron Hardy, Jr., was the Transportation Integration Division officer in charge for the 15th Sustainment Brigade at Camp Taji, Iraq. He has a bachelor’s degree in justice studies from Georgia Southern University and a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University. He is a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Combined Logistics Officers Advanced Course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Support Operations Course.