The development of Stryker brigade combat teams
has led to several innovations in supporting nonstandard equipment.
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson won
congressional approval for a mission of epic proportions.
Two former Infantry captains,
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, would lead a group of soldiers,
called the “Corps of Discovery,” on what became
a 2–year adventure to find navigable river routes to
the Pacific. Two hundred years later, the same glacial prairies
of the Pacific Northwest that Lewis and Clark crossed to reach
the ocean would again challenge men, and now women, of the
U.S. Army—this time with technology so advanced it would
change the face of the modern battlefield.
Under the daunting shadow of Mount Rainer came the final word:
Fort Lewis, Washington (named after Meriwether Lewis), would
host the initial fielding phase of the Army’s first Stryker
brigade combat teams (SBCTs): the 3d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division,
and the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light). [The Army
plans to establish six SBCTs. The other four units planned
for conversion to SBCTs are the 172d Infantry Brigade at Fort
Wainwright, Alaska, the 2d Cavalry Regiment at Fort Lewis,
the 2d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light), at Schofield
Barracks, Hawaii, and the 56th Brigade, 28th Infantry Division
(Mechanized), Pennsylvania Army National Guard.]
Ironically, it had been almost 20 years since the Chief of
Staff of the Army at that time, General Edward C. Meyer, selected
the “Old Reliables” of the 9th Infantry Division
(Motorized) to host a high-technology test bed project. The
project was known affectionately as “Boys with Toys,” and
its goal was to develop a high-technology, rapidly deployable
light division that could engage heavy threat forces. A new
fielding process was developed to effectively integrate available
commercial technology. This task required new methods of testing
doctrinal concepts and equipment. Many emerging concepts tested
by the division, such as palletized loading procedures, survived
the project and were adopted by the Army, but the high-technology
light division itself did not.
The skeptical ghosts of this experience shadowed Chief of Staff
General Eric K. Shinseki’s transformation effort announced
in October 1999, including his plan to create two medium-weight
initial brigade combat teams at Fort Lewis. However, after
a triumphant year of combat success in Iraq, the 3d Brigade,
2d Infantry Division—the first SBCT—has forever
laid to rest those demons of past innovation efforts. According
to the current Chief of Staff, General Peter J. Schoomaker, “Stryker
comes with more infantry in it than any other formation—1,160
per brigade. . . . The Stryker’s speed and agility gives
us the best operating radius and abilities we have ever had.”
The SBCT concept is built on a lethal, rapidly deploying modular
force, tailored to operational requirements, that can arrive
anywhere in the world within 96 hours after liftoff. The introduction
of the new eight-wheeled,
19-ton, $2-million Stryker armored vehicle—named after
two posthumous Army Medal of Honor recipients, Private First
Class Stuart Stryker of World War II and Specialist Robert
Stryker of Vietnam War—has received significant publicity.
The structure of the SBCT has become the touchstone for the
brigade-based modular Army of the future.
AMC Forward Stryker
requires a combination of revolutionary, evolutionary, and
emerging doctrine. To accomplish
the SBCT transformation,
new heights of innovation and staff coordination were required.
The Commanding General of the Army Materiel Command (AMC) and
the Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Ground Combat Systems
agreed to provide Fort Lewis with a single point of contact
for all materiel fielding issues associated with the SBCTs.
The I Corps Transformation Support Office was created in March
2001 to serve as that single point of contact for the materiel
development community. The Chief of the Command, Control, Communications,
Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR)
Special Projects Office—a temporary field office of the
PEO for Command, Control and Communications Tactical located
at Fort Lewis—was dual-hatted as the Director of the
Transformation Support Office.
Stryker is a colonel-level command located at Fort
Lewis, Washington. An LSE–F supports each SBCT.
In the fall of 2002, AMC’s Operations Support Command
(now the Field Support Command [FSC]) established AMC Forward
Stryker, a colonel-level command, to assume the materiel
fielding and command and control mission for all six SBCT
logistics support elements forward (LSE–Fs). (The Army
is already discussing adding Stryker brigades. “By the
time we get to five or six,” General Schoomaker has stated, “we
may want to go for even more.” AMC Forward Stryker
would continue to support additional Stryker requirements.)
Historically, AMC has deployed LSEs based on the operational
needs of the supported unit or theater. The LSEs are task-organized
with logistics assistance representatives (LARs) assigned
to logistics assistance offices worldwide. During contingencies,
command and control of LSEs transfers to the theater AMC
commander. Unlike the traditional LSE, an SBCT LSE–F
maintains a habitual, direct support relationship with
its SBCT during both peacetime and contingency operations.
ingrained familiarity has proven to be a combat multiplier
as operational proficiency is routinely rehearsed and reinforced.
An inherent mission under this concept of support is the
mobilization and operational control of approximately 115
to 150 SBCT contractors
and Department of the Army civilians.
In June 2003, AMC published the SBCT Fielding and Support
Concept. This concept provided an overarching approach
and synchronizing the fielding of the SBCTs, including
sustainment responsibilities after fielding is completed. In
November 2003, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G–8, assumed
materiel fielding responsibility for SBCTs and AMC Forward
Stryker’s focus was redirected to standing up the LSE–Fs
through certification of their initial operating capability.
Unit Set Fielding
People are the key component to transformation. Unit set
fielding (USF) is the key process, packaged not just to
systems but a system of systems. USF synchronizes individual
system fielding plans into highly structured, battalion-sized
fielding schedules. The first iteration of the multiphased
USF process for the first SBCT was challenging and closely
managed. The systematic installation of multiple digital
platforms required the efforts of several hundred military
Department of the Army civilians, and contractors—all
joining together to choreograph the critical events. New equipment
soon began arriving, and the “digital-install” warehouses
came to life with system contractors readily preparing
their workspaces and stocking shelves.
is headed by a chief warrant officer and includes
both logistics assistance representatives from AMC’s
subordinate commands and contractor personnel.
The many digital communications systems and subsystems under
the umbrella of the Army Battle Command System (ABCS) require
individual and collective training of SBCT personnel to progressively
integrate unprecedented situational awareness capabilities
into the SBCT. The new Fort Lewis Mission Support Training
Facility, a cavernous, 48,000-square foot building, provided
an ideal controlled environment of 400 networked computers
for training on ABCS.
The culminating milestone in 2003 was the SBCT certification
exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort
Polk, Louisiana. The first SBCT—the 3d Brigade, 2d Infantry
Division—was certified as having the initial operating
capability for global deployment.
Field Manual (FM) 63–11, Logistics Support Element:
Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, resulted from lessons
Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991.
The Army required a single AMC logistics command and control
element to centrally manage strategic logistics personnel,
call forward elements as required, and integrate those
elements into the theater. The theater AMC LSE satisfied
then, and it continues to do so today in Southwest Asia.
Clearly, contractor logistics support was required for
the foreseeable future. FM 63–11 provided call-forward guidance
requiring the AMC LSEs to control all contractors in their
areas of operations. During early SBCT field training exercises,
a limited contractor control cell was established under the
Fort Lewis LSE for reception, staging, onward movement, and
integration of systems contractors. The SBCT needed a simple
reliable combat support solution to gain better control of
SBCT systems contractors. AMC Forward Stryker’s objective
was simple—to train as it would sustain.
The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics,
and Technology and the AMC Commanding General agreed to
continue with current Army doctrine mandating that the
AMC LSEs act
as the “single face” to the warfighter. AMC
Forward Stryker began to explore the details of how to
integrate and embed standard and nonstandard contract logistics
support under a single umbrella.
For the SBCT, the “single face” of materiel support
is the commander of the LSE–F. The SBCT LSE–F is
a task-organized team consisting of a chief warrant officer
and Department of the Army civilian technicians from AMC’s
major subordinate commands. Each LSE–F is provided with
a multimedia communication system (MMCS) and contract operators
for training exercises and deployments. The LSE–F
MMCS consists of 48 secure and nonsecure voice data lines
fax, nonsecure video, cellular transmissions, terrestrial
and satellite bands and is interoperable with the Defense
Switched Network and commercial telephone service.
The congressionally mandated separation between acquisition
and sustainment required AMC Forward Stryker to dust
off governing Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition
Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization
Act of 1986, Congress directed that control of all DOD
functions be assigned to civilian leaders in each of
the military departments (Army, Navy, and Air Force).
and their subordinate
program managers (PMs) under the Army Acquisition Executive
(who is the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition,
Logistics, and Technology) are directly responsible for
fielding and sustaining individual systems through full
Army fielding was not a process unique to the SBCT. However, “Team
Lewis” experienced growing pains in bringing multiple
Army organizations, Government agencies, and civilian
contractors together for the first time
Approximately 120 specialized contractors are an integral
part of the SBCTs’ highly complex systems maintenance, sustainment,
and technical support. The Army now must ensure that contractors
are planned for and integrated into all SBCT operations and
risk assessments. Considering the factors of mission, enemy,
terrain, troops, time, and civilians, many contractors are
actually operating in the forward areas of the SBCT. However,
supporting the SBCT requires the convergence of standard Army
and nonstandard contractor support. For example, 57 of the
79 C4ISR systems are supported by systems contractors exclusively.
As Phillip Sibley, senior LAR at the Army Communications-Electronics
Command (CECOM) at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, accurately stated, “This
isn’t your father’s Army anymore.”
Several logistics software initiatives are under development
to standardize formatting and responsibilities and improve
the process of achieving the logistics common operating
The Battle Command Sustainment Support System (BCS3)
is the Army Combined Arms Support Command’s scheduled
replacement for the Combat Service Support Control System
predictive combat functions of BCS3 are in-transit visibility,
sustaining base stock and requisition status visibility,
and course-of-action analysis.
The PEO for Command, Control and Communications Tactical
is the Army’s organization to ensure digitization
and battle command interoperability throughout the force.
Projects Office] Tracker system provides detailed personnel
data and deployment status information on contractors,
Department of the Army civilians, and military personnel.
The Operational Tracking System (OPTRAKS) is a local
software management tool that effectively triages problems
contractor-supported systems and accounts
for contractor missions within an SBCT’s area of operations. Full
development of OPTRAKS began during the summer of 2004 after the system
by the second SBCT (the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division). One year
development during field assessments verified its reliability and interoperability
with minimal risk. [Spiral development is a methodology initially developed
reduce risks on large software projects by using a cyclical approach that
allows users to evaluate early results and system developers to identify
early in the process.]
This relationally structured database is now the operational epicenter
for the LSE–F. Its functional areas include trouble reports and personnel, equipment,
and stockage levels of nonstandard parts (provided by the contractors). In support
of total information dominance, the goal is to eventually include these capabilities
in systems being managed by the PEO for Enterprise Information Systems. OPTRAKS
currently is employed in support of ongoing combat operations for the Army’s
second SBCT, the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, in Iraq.
The LSE–F must rapidly assess systems failures with contractor field service
representatives and securely send forward the correct mix of AMC LARs and field
service representatives from the PEOs and PMs under the Army Acquisition Executive.
The OPTRAKS file of “Frequently Asked Questions,” updated by the
owning contractor for each system, triages maintenance issues and provides quick
solutions. Amazingly, the data reports from field testing of OPTRAKS implementation
in the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, SBCT confirmed that 18 percent of
all trouble reports were resolved at the LSE–F without follow-up
action; no contractors or Army civilians were required to move forward
the problem. OPTRAKS inherently reduced risk and force protection requirements
by minimizing the forward logistics footprint of unnecessary personnel.
Trouble reports were not closed until the customer was satisfied.
management initiative has changed the organizational
structure of the Army Materiel Command, with PEOs
aligned under the appropriate major subordinate commands.
The soldiers and systems engineers of
the SBCT have developed a sense of trust that OPTRAKS performs
as designed. Database management does not remove
factor; it increases the capability of humans to analyze data before
decisions are made or conclusions reached.
Life-Cycle Management Commands
The Army acquisition process has functioned along two separate chains
of command since implementation of the Goldwater-Nichols Act. Once
released to the Army, sustainment responsibility has transferred to
one of AMC’s
commodity-oriented major subordinate commands (MSCs). That is about
On 2 August 2004, the commanding general of AMC and the Assistant Secretary
of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology agreed to formalize
Management Initiative by aligning selected PEOs with the appropriate
AMC MSCs to create life-cycle management commands (LCMCs). The new
Soldier/Ground Systems, Communications/Electronics, and Joint Ammunition.
PEOs will continue to report directly to the Army Acquisition Executive.
is that PEOs and AMC logisticians together will enhance the acquisition
processes influencing future sustainment and readiness. The Military
Deputy to the
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology
as the AMC Deputy Commanding General for Acquisition and Technology.
The new position
of AMC Deputy Commanding General for Operations and Readiness will
serve as the command focal point for shaping AMC’s future. This synergistic initiative
will profoundly impact efforts to enhance “cradle to grave” modular
The rapidly configured, brigade-based modular Army of the future will
enhance our Nation’s ability to project combat power. Many dedicated professionals
throughout DOD and the corporate world have contributed immensely to the success
of SBCT transformation. The Army is operating under a fast-moving climate of
change driven by technology and corporate enterprise. This is opening the door
for logisticians to break existing paradigms and explore creative concepts and
solutions. Logisticians will continue to play vital roles in presenting innovative,
flexible solutions that keep pace with transformational combat concepts. ALOG
Gregory L. Alderete is the Chief of Operations at AMC Forward
Stryker at Fort Lewis, Washington. He served 24 years in the
Army and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Stevens
Point, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the
Defense Language Institute.