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Where’s My MMC?

The transition to a modular force has resulted in new organizations replacing the familiar structure of materiel management centers. While the changes are significant, logisticians should understand that all of the functions of materiel management will continue to be performed—and in better, more efficient ways.

Probably one of the most dramatic changes that we have made in the concept for logistics support to the modular force has been in the area of materiel management. Gone are the division materiel management centers, corps materiel management centers, and theater army materiel management centers. And so, rightfully, there has been some angst about what happened to all of the materiel management functions formerly performed in these materiel management centers (MMCs). The purpose of this article is to reassure all that we have the functions accounted for, and—though we all will have to get out of our comfort zones and find new, more streamlined ways of doing our jobs—nothing has been lost in the shuffle.

First, I think it is important to remember that the changes we have made were not dreamed up over night. They were, in fact, the product of literally years of study, debate, and careful thought. And while we may not have it exactly right, I think we are darned close, and the enablers coming on line (such as Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced [PBUSE], the Single Army Logistics Enterprise [SALE], Business Intelligence tools, and continued improvements to the Battle Command Sustainment and Support System [BCS3]) will only make materiel management easier and more logical.

Second, in order to understand materiel management in the modular force, it is necessary to understand first how logistics force structure has been streamlined. Each of the brigade combat teams (BCTs) and support brigades in the modular force has an organic brigade support battalion (except for the battlefield surveillance brigade, whose size and structure do not warrant a full-up support battalion). Brigade support battalions (BSBs) and echelons above brigade (EAB) forces are supported by a streamlined structure of sustainment brigades, which are managed by a theater sustainment command (TSC) or an expeditionary sustainment command (ESC) of a TSC. Materiel management occurs in all of these units—the BSB, the sustainment brigade, and the sustainment command. (See the sidebar, Modular Force Logistics Organizations for a summary of modular force logistics organization.)

Probably the easiest way to explain where the materiel management functions have gone is to decompose the old division materiel management center (DMMC), function by function, and explain where each function is now performed in the modular force. The old DMMC essentially performed five functions. It—

  • Operated the division property book office (DPBO).
  • Operated the division ammunition office (DAO).
  • Performed centralized maintenance management.
  • Operated a small general support office—basically, class I (subsistence), class IIIB (bulk petroleum, oils, and lubricants [POL]), and water.
  • Operated the Standard Army Retail Supply System [SARSS]2A/D, performing some mostly time-sensitive automated supply management tasks.
This article will examine each of these five management areas and show where each function migrated in the modular force.

Property Book

The old DPBO consisted of a centralized PBO, with property book teams for each of the brigades and major subordinate commands (MSCs) of the division and an asset visibility section. Each of these PBO teams still exists, but instead of being centralized in a DPBO, the teams have been decentralized into each of the brigade-sized organizations of the modular force (which means we now have more PBO teams than ever).

The asset visibility section has been moved to the division and corps G–4 shops to enable the G–4 to see the status of property within the division or corps and take what actions the division or corps commander may direct for the units assigned or attached to the division. Although it is true that non-BCT- and -brigade-sized units of the modular force have no property book “team,” they never have had one; nondivisional units (AA-level unit identification code [UIC]) have always had organic PBOs (often an officer dual-hatted into the function). With PBUSE, everyone, at all echelons, has complete visibility of the status of any UIC’s property, and—since all the data are centrally maintained on a central server—no reporting or reconciliation needs to be done. Routine property accountability actions will be handled by PBOs, and reports on the status of particular property book actions (such as directed lateral transfers) will flow through command channels in accordance with local standing operating procedures (SOP). None of this is new.

Division Ammunition Office

The old DAO consisted of a centralized division ammunition officer, an ammunition technician (a warrant officer), a small staff, and a number of ammunition transfer point (ATP) sections that, when deployed, operated with the forward support battalion (FSB) in each brigade area of operations. In the modular force, each BCT and support brigade now has its own brigade ammunition officer, ammunition technician, and senior ammunition noncommissioned officer (NCO)—and a redesigned ammunition transfer holding point (ATHP) that is twice as large the old ATP. Ammunition supply points (ASPs) and theater ammunition storage areas still exist at EAB, run by modular ammunition platoons and companies, under the supervision of the class V (ammunition) management section of the sustainment brigade. Division and corps and army G–4s also are staffed with an ammunition officer and NCO to enable ammunition planning and orders production, establishment of supply rates, and other functions but not management of ammunition units!

The Standard Army Ammunition System Modernization (SAAS–MOD) continues to be the management information system we use. It is made more useful by the fielding of Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) to every node in the ammunition management chain. Eventually, SAAS–MOD will be replaced by the Global Combat Service Support-Army (GCSS-Army) system, which will make ammunition management and supply activities even easier. Finally, as for how ammunition requests flow, the brigade ammunition office will deal with its supporting sustainment brigade class V section (which will roll requirements to the sustainment command) for support.

Maintenance Management

Each BSB, unlike its predecessor FSB, now has quite a robust maintenance management section—one that is several times larger than the one that the FSB had. Each division and corps (and theater army) G–4 likewise has a robust maintenance management capability, much more so than ever before. Brigade and higher commanders are well staffed to be able to see and manage maintenance within their units. The supporting sustainment brigade also has a maintenance management capability—one that is mostly designed for the EAB units it supports but that nonetheless can be tapped, if required, by the division and corps commanders that the brigade supports. The same is true for the sustainment command.

Maintenance reporting (in terms of the Army Materiel Status System [AMSS]) for BCT and support brigade units will flow directly from the BSB to the Army Materiel Command’s Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA). EAB unit AMSS data will flow as always, using the sustainment brigade support operations office (SPO) for assistance as required. Local, unit-unique reporting of maintenance status will be performed in accordance with the commander’s SOP.

Maintenance management reports, such as the Standard Army Maintenance System (SAMS) 026 report, are now available through LOGSA’s Logistics Information Warehouse. These reports soon will be enhanced by a state-of-the-art Business Intelligence tool that will enable the creation of commander’s “dashboards” that will be accessible immediately by anyone with an Army Knowledge Online (AKO) password on an as-needed basis. These dashboards will provide timely maintenance status in whatever format the commander prefers. Like property status, these data will be universally available to all with a need to know, taking us closer to the common operating picture we have been seeking to achieve.

General Supply Office

The general supply office is probably the easiest of the materiel management capabilities to account for in the modular force. It essentially operates almost exactly as the class V operation described above. Sufficient capability (in fact, as with class V, more than ever before) exists within each BSB. Requests for support flow to the supporting sustainment brigade. Within the theater, the sustainment command orchestrates the overall flow of support, from external sources to the theater, to its sustainment brigades, and on to the BSBs. Our modular units (BCTs and support brigades) also have a better water production and distribution capability, internal to the brigade, than ever before.

Automated Supply Management

This is arguably one of the more complex materiel management functions, but, after quite a bit of thought and effort, we think we have it right. First, within the BSBs, there is robust staffing within the supply support activity (SSA) and a small management capability within the BSB SPO. Geographic routing identifier code (RIC GEO)—including but not limited to management review file (MRF)—management functions will be split between the sustainment brigade and the sustainment command, with the time-sensitive functions being performed by the brigade and the non-time-sensitive functions performed by the command.

Class II, IIIP, IV, and IX Supply

The Army’s current processes have evolved in such a fashion that most class II (clothing and individual equipment), IIIP (packaged POL), IV (construction and barrier materials), and IX (repair parts) supplies flow from the national level directly to the individual SARSS–1 SSA, with little or no intermediate sources of supply or even referral activity. Already, all DMMC-level SARSS management (utilizing SARSS–2A/D) has been eliminated, with functions formerly performed in the DMMC now being done at the corps MMC (CMMC). In the modular force, we will eliminate one more level of management, the CMMC. As indicated above, non-time-sensitive SARSS-related management functions will be performed by the TSC, or its deployable command post when the command post is used; time-sensitive management functions will be delegated by the TSC to the sustainment brigades for the customers that the brigades support. Corps/Theater Automated Data Processing Centers (CTASCs) have all been collocated at the LOGSA. SARSS–1 transactions will be transmitted directly to the SARSS Gateway through satellite communications (as they are today). Any management actions that are needed for these requisitions will be performed by the TSC or ESC or, in some cases for selected time-sensitive management functions, through its subordinate sustainment brigades.

Class II, IIIP, IV, and IX supplies actually delivered to the theater of operations will be delivered in “pure-packed” pallets by the distribution assets of the TSC’s sustainment brigades directly to the SARSS–1 SSA from which the request was transmitted to the national level. National-level stocks forward positioned in the theater of operations will be released by the national level and likewise will be distributed to the requesting SARSS–1 SSA by TSC transportation assets.

Reporting and Relationships

Reporting, of course, will flow through command channels, so BSBs will report to their BCT headquarters, which will report to division and corps headquarters, and so on. However, BCTs, divisions, and corps are not sources of supply and support, so BSB reports through command channels are informational. In order to get support required from higher levels, BSBs and aviation support battalions (ASBs) should submit their requirements and forecasts to their supporting sustainment brigade; when reporting electronically, it is always a good idea to copy (Cc: ) others in the sustainment chain who have an interest, such as the ESC and TSC headquarters. In fact, it is also a good idea for BSBs to Cc: the supporting sustainment brigade on their reports through their command channels to share situational awareness. Of course, when all parties are using BCS3, reports are not necessary; since relevant information is populated in BCS3, everyone on the network can see and utilize it.

One of the fundamental principles of the modular force logistics concept is “single (EAB) logistics C2 [command and control],” which will enable the most efficient and effective end-to-end distribution process. Within that construct, sustainment brigades normally are assigned or attached to TSCs or ESCs. TSCs and ESCs routinely assign support areas of responsibility (AORs) to their subordinate sustainment brigades, making them responsible for supporting all units within their assigned areas. If a division headquarters is within a sustainment brigade’s assigned area of support responsibility, the sustainment brigade commander should seek out and establish a relationship with the BSBs within that area and likewise link up with and establish a personal relationship with the assistant division commanders (support). Likewise, ESC and TSC commanders also should seek out and establish personal relationships with the supported division commanders and assistant division commanders (support). Most importantly, it is essential that EAB logistics planners be in touch with corps, division, and brigade logistics planners so that a maximum amount of collaborative planning can occur routinely, from day to day.

(Note: Though it is preferable that operational AORs assigned to maneuver commanders coincide with EAB support AORs, that may not always be possible. When they do not, the logistician’s job can become more complex. So logisticians just need to be sensitive to this possibility and account for it when it is the case.)

It is true that modularity has created a major change for us logisticians, in terms of how we are organized and how we do our business, especially at EAB. Internal to BCTs and support brigades, we have designed a robust, nearly independent logistics support structure focused on the BCT and brigade, giving it staying power. The supporting sustainment brigade is key: It is the single source of support to BSBs within its assigned support AOR and provides the means to get materiel distributed from the theater-level air and sea ports of debarkation to the BSBs and to their own non-brigade-aligned customers. Where’s the materiel management? It’s still there—embedded within a very capable, efficient, streamlined support structure.

Major General Mitchell H. Stevenson is the Commanding General of the Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee, Virginia. He previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, G–3, Headquarters, Army Materiel Command, and as Commander of the Army Ordnance Center and Schools and Chief of Ordnance. He has a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology. He is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, the Ordnance Officer Advanced Course, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.