When Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr.,
addressed the House Armed Services Committee last October on
lessons learned thus far from Operation Iraqi Freedom, he described
the new approach to warfare demonstrated in Iraq as “overmatching
power.” Giambastiani, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation
(North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and Commander of the U.S.
Joint Forces Command, stated that the emphasis is no longer
on numbers only but also on harnessing all of the capabilities
the services and Special Operations Forces bring to the battlespace
in a coherently joint way. This important
point should be the key for developing future Army logistics
systems and doctrine. Although threats from terrorists, insurgents,
and enemy state-sponsored cells have dramatically changed the
world in which the military operates, the responsibility of
the services to defeat the enemy has not changed.
The first step toward exploiting all available capabilities is to educate the
Army logistics community about existing systems and procedures that increase
situational knowledge of the battlespace. Logisticians must understand combat
missions in order to support them. If 9–11 has taught us anything, it is
that there are no front lines and battlefields will never be linear again. The
natural second step is to incorporate joint training and doctrine in all logistics
planning. With insights gained from Operation Iraqi Freedom, logistics planners
have discerned four important attributes that will ensure success on the battlefield.
They are knowledge, speed, precision, and lethality.
Improved satellite capabilities made possible by new communications links have
greatly improved knowledge and increased intelligence on the battlefield. The
information these links provide enables extremely accurate targeting, which increases
lethality and reduces the number of sorties required. Fewer sorties mean reduced
fuel consumption, and fewer flying hours mean less aircraft maintenance. Fewer
operational forces require a smaller logistics footprint to support them. Current
Army logistics doctrine does not address the integration and leveraging of satellite
capabilities or their advantages to the logistics community.
In addition to global positioning systems and satellite communications, other
available technologies could greatly enhance the knowledge of logistics units.
An example is multispectral imagery. Multispectral scanner systems are passive,
electro-optical sensors that collect and digitally record reflected and emitted
electromagnetic energy. Data obtained from these systems range from the viability
of supply routes to the most abundant water sources.
Space-based systems can provide much more than weather and communications data.
However, many logisticians are not familiar with these systems and the information
they provide because joint training that uses these resources is seldom offered.
Information on these systems can be requested through various channels, such
as the S–2 (intelligence staff officer). However, most battalion S–2s
are unfamiliar with the types of information satellites can produce, and space
operations personnel are not authorized in the division support command. Many
space systems are classified and clearance is required to request data from them.
In Operation Iraqi Freedom, forces closed on the joint area of operations in
less than 90 days as opposed to the 7 months required in Operation Desert Storm.
Although a smaller force equates to a smaller logistics footprint, the overall
customer wait time was reduced dramatically. Modes of delivery and capabilities
have improved greatly since 1990. Available bandwidth has increased more than
40 times, which has permitted direct visibility over supplies and enabled the
destination of supplies to be adjusted while they are en route. This has provided
more flexibility for the forces in theater because they do not have to wait for
Some systems problems remain, however. The Army supply system is not integrated
with the other services’ systems. The Marine Corps has many of the same
vehicles as the Army, so they can use the same repair parts. However, an Army
unit could have a part shortage while a Marine Corps unit operating 1 mile downrange
could have an excess of the same part. Because neither service has visibility
over the other’s supply system, the Army requirement would not be filled.
Depending on each service’s stockage level, a part also could cost one
service more than it costs another.
Other coalition forces in theater often have supplies needed by U.S. forces.
In many instances, supplies could be shifted to where they are needed most under
the provisions of acquisition and cross-servicing agreements. These agreements
with other nations’ defense ministries authorize the acquisition and transfer
of logistics support between the signatories. They are widely used throughout
the U.S. European Command. Army logisticians also could use other types of joint
and coalition support agreements to obtain needed supplies and equipment, and
an automated system linking the services and coalition forces would increase
the speed of delivery even more.
Precision applies not only to weapon systems but also to decisionmaking. Using
precision munitions increases lethality on key targets. Over two-thirds of the
ordnance expended in Operation Iraqi Freedom was precision guided, and campaign
objectives were obtained using one-seventh of the ordnance used in Operation
Desert Storm. “Precision decisions” allowed a combination of Special
Forces and conventional forces to work jointly, maximizing effectiveness. All
of these factors contributed to the drafting of a military response to enemy
actions that inflicted minimum damage to Iraq’s infrastructure, which conserved
resources that would be needed in follow-on stability operations.
For Army logisticians, precision means delivering the right supplies in the right
amount to the right location at the right time. Joint logistics doctrine uses
key elements of the logistics system—lines of communication, theater transportation
networks, specified units, and host nation support—to make sure resources
are available to support combat power. Overall, this works well except in one
area—construction. Navy Seabees, Air Force REDHORSE (Rapid Engineer Deployable
Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, Engineer), and Army Engineer units operating
in the same theater work independently. Although each service is capable of various
construction activities, there is little, if any, coordination between them in
Engineer support could be coordinated before deployment to see if a REDHORSE
squadron is available. If so, vertical construction units could focus on other
areas. (Vertical construction units are those that erect buildings, towers, fences,
and bridges and install electrical, sanitary, and heating systems in them). Although
they all use class IV construction materials, each service requisitions them
differently. The Army relies heavily on contracts for construction services.
However, using joint and multinational assets could save time and money since
the materials may be in
theater already and transportation costs could be minimized.
The increase in knowledge, speed, and precision and the integration of air, ground,
and sea operations have contributed to the final attribute of success—
lethality. However, logistics provides the foundation of combat power. Planning
and executing the movement and sustainment of combat forces in a theater of operations
makes the forces involved lethal.
The fundamental point in Admiral Giambastiani’s congressional testimony
was that the military’s traditional planning and approach to warfare have
shifted. Instead of employing service-centric forces that must be deconflicted
on the battlefield to achieve victories of attrition, a well-trained, integrated
joint force now enters the battlespace quickly and conducts decisive operations
with operational and strategic effects.
The lack of a single logistics structure limits the logistics community’s
ability to synchronize priority of support with priority of effort. Since our
Nation’s founding, military forces have relied on
the combined capabilities of the various services and coalition partners. Since
the 1980’s, we have had a Combined Force Land Component Commander, a Combined
Joint Force Air Component Commander, and a Combined Joint Maritime Component
Commander to bring combat elements together to direct their overall capabilities
toward national strategic goals. Joint force commanders do not care where a capability
is obtained as long as it fulfills the need. This same logic needs to apply to
logistics. For Army logisticians, the challenge is to use sister services and
coalition forces to get what they need quickly and deliver it with precision.
Although current operations have forced operators to conduct joint and coalition
operations and to fight as a joint and combined team, the Army logistics community
must establish innovative training and doctrine that incorporates lessons learned
while providing support in joint environments. Although Army joint logistics
doctrine is still in its infancy, the essential imperatives of combat service
support—man, fuel, feed, arm, fix, and sustain—can be applied to
the overmatching power approach to modern warfare. Fixing, fueling, moving, sustaining,
and arming the forces give them their lethality. How the services conduct these
functions in joint operations should be understood, trained, and perfected by
Army logisticians. The constantly changing nature of our operational environment
requires a joint logistics structure that is flexible, fully integrated, and
capable of orchestrating complex, simultaneous distributed operations rapidly
and decisively. Joint logistics affects the Army more than it affects its sister
services because wars are still won by “boots on the ground,” and
most of those boots belong to the Army.
Major Lisa A. Zanglin is assigned to the Directorate of Combat Developments
for Combat Service Support at the Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort
Virginia. She is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, the
Joint Forces Staff College, the Air Force Instructor Course, and the Joint Aerospace
Command and Control Course. She has master’s degrees in human resource
management and military science from Troy State University in Alabama and is
completing doctoral research in public administration through Auburn University.