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Improving Division and Brigade Logistics in the Modular Force

The author asks some hard questions about how the Army is implementing modular logistics in the division and brigade and offers some answers.

The division of the future is not the division we grew up with. The division headquarters of the future will have no permanently assigned forces—it will be just a headquarters. We are seeing the future already in how the Army is assigning brigade combat teams (BCTs) in Iraq: few “divisions” are fighting with the BCTs with which they are based.

The intent of the logistics modular force design is to have a single person in charge of logistics, end to end, in a theater of operations, and that person will be the commander of the theater sustainment command (TSC). He may exercise command and control through his deployable command post (DCP) commander. Right now, “end to end” means down to the sustainment brigade, not the BCT’s brigade support battalion (BSB). Yet the total of combat service support (CSS) Soldiers in each BSB could represent over 50 percent of the logisticians in a theater of operations, and the BSB falls under the BCT.

Some aspects of logistics in the modular force at the division and brigade levels still need to be worked on. These areas include command and control and the direct support (DS) logistics activities that currently account for 80 percent of a division’s budget (as identified in a division review and analysis of logistics performance). Consideration of these areas leads to a number of questions. Who is responsible for the logistics enablers that are being introduced in the BCT and division? How have some commanders involved in current operations handled the transformation to modular force logistics? Who will be responsible for managing current materiel management processes? How will the professional development of CSS officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) be conducted in a BCT? How will the Army Force Generation Model be applied to modular force logistics above the BCT? It is our role as logisticians to figure out how to answer these questions and make modular force logistics work.

Command and Control

Emerging Army doctrine states that the sustainment brigade’s chain of command falls under the TSC or its DCP but that the brigade will be under the operational control of a division for a specific mission or operation. In garrison, the BCT commander owns his organizational and DS logistics. He rates his logisticians and has fiscal responsibility for the BCT’s execution of logistics. He provides guidance to his DS maintenance activities and supply support activities (SSAs). He makes sure that current maintenance and supply regulations are followed while also overseeing the transformation of his maintenance systems to two-level maintenance. He signs inventory adjustment reports for SSAs while reviewing authorized stockage list performance, inventory accuracy, zero balances, and denials. He makes sure that shop stock is managed appropriately and that the division or BCT budget is not wasted on double orders or missed diagnoses by his DS shops.

Is the Army asking too much of BCT and BSB commanders? Since Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom began, the Army has done a good job in making the logistician more of a warfighter. With the introduction of modularity, must it now make the warfighter more of a logistician?

The sustainment brigade works for the TSC, and its personnel do not wear a division patch. The number of Active component sustainment brigade headquarters that the Army can afford could result in each sustainment brigade either supporting two divisions on one installation or being located on an installation without any Active component division. By 2013, the Army could have as few as 15 sustainment brigades replacing the 36 division support commands (DISCOMs) and corps support groups (CSGs) that currently exist. This support ratio will become even more challenging because these sustainment brigades potentially could support a force with 10 more BCTs than at present.

Review and Analysis of Logistics Performance

Each month before a division logistics readiness review, the assistant division commander (support) and the DISCOM commander conduct a review and analysis of DS systems that drive both division readiness and division resource requirements. These DS activities are not readily apparent to the units in the division that are supported by DS logistics, but they are critical factors in determining the division’s success or failure.

The review and analysis process starts with a trend analysis. Maintenance trends allow division leaders to compare each unit to similar units in the division, as well as with other like units in the Army. The relative values established by analyzing like units allow for the cross-leveling of knowledge among DS units within the division. The units can see their performance more clearly and make needed improvements. Since a BCT has only one SSA and one set of DS shops, comparison of their performance to like units outside of the BCT is extremely important. The review and analysis process is a training event for DS units and for the leaders charged with fiscal responsibility for the BCT and division budgets. This knowledge cannot be gained solely within the boundaries of the BCT.

However, questions remain. Does the division G–4 staff have enough experience and personnel to perform this level of analysis? How can division budget processes be used to enforce the disciplined use of division resources in DS units? Will the BCT be given a budget and be expected to operate within the constraints of that budget? If so, does the BCT staff have the experience and personnel to use the budget to change how DS units execute supply and maintenance activities while also maintaining readiness?

Turn-In of Serviceable Repair Parts

Turn-in of serviceable repair parts is a perfect example of an activity that requires discipline and external monitoring to evaluate the performance of DS units. DS units can contribute to the poor management of a BCT or division budget by needlessly requisitioning repair parts, only to turn those parts back to an SSA to receive partial credit. This inefficiency also wastes the manpower associated with the requisition and subsequent turn-in of the parts.

Serviceable turn-ins are usually caused by poor discipline in the supply and maintenance activities of a DS unit and the units it supports. This poor discipline, lack of trust in the Army’s supply system (which can result in units hoarding repair parts), poor shop stock management, and poor maintenance diagnostic capabilities usually are the causes of poor management of budgets and manpower.

Do the modular designs of the division and BCT headquarters provide the number of experienced personnel needed to police the use of repair parts? Can the BCT commander be made fiscally responsible for the activities of his BSB with the resources available to him? This one process—turn-in of serviceable repair parts—can cost the BCT commander millions of dollars that could have been used better to train his force. So far, generous Global War on Terrorism funding has allowed the Army to delay having to address the problems created by serviceable turn-ins. In the near future, when war funds are not so available, this shortcoming will be more apparent.

Customer wait time, the successful fill rate of an SSA, the average turnaround time of jobs in a DS maintenance shop, and the backlog in a DS shop—all affect readiness. Comparing these activities to other units of the same type is key to seeing how well a unit is performing.

In the divisional modular structure, does the division commander have less of an opportunity to weight the main logistics effort in an asymmetrical environment? Will he have the ability to assess the requirements or shortages in one BSB and task-organize logistics from one BSB to another? Who is looking into CSS capabilities deeply enough to estimate the requirements of a BSB and make the recommendations to task-organize? Does the G–4 have the capability? Does the division commander have the ability to see the impact of a logistics decision at the Army or major Army command (MACOM) level, which would allow him to contribute to making that decision?

Logistics Enablers

Some may argue that there are no longer division logistics assets because the main support battalion (MSB) no longer exists. Others would argue that the logistics enablers assigned to the BCT, which is assigned or attached to the division headquarters, are assets under the control of the division headquarters. This means that the enablers could be task-organized between BCTs as required to accomplish a task by or-der of the higher headquarters. This would presuppose that all of the BSBs in the Army are operating under the same doctrine and are task-organized in the same manner to some degree.

“Connect the Logistician” endeavors by the Army G–4 have gone a long way toward linking logisticians wherever they may deploy with Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) and the CSS Automated Information Management Interface/Network Encryption System. The Army Training and Doctrine Command and the Army Materiel Command have made great progress in developing the Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army), which will force compliance in systems at wholesale and tactical levels.

However, questions remain about competing command and control systems for division-level operations. At the Army level, the proponents and funding for command and control systems are clear. The Army G–3 supports the Force XXI Battle Com-mand Brigade and Below (FBCB2) and Blue Force Tracking (BFT) systems, while the Army G–4 supports the Movement Tracking System (MTS) and Battle Command Sustainment and Support System (BCS3). At the division level, the division rear is the advocate for either MTS or the Defense Transportation Reporting and Control System (DTRACS) and BCS3, while the main command post is focused on either BFT or FBCB2 and the command and control personal computer. The fact remains that the basis-of-issue plan for BFT does not provide CSS vehicles with enough BFT devices. This has caused logisticians to pursue their own form of visibility on the battlefield with BCS3 and MTS.

Who drives the BCT to focus on BCS3 and MTS so its BSB can execute its mission? Will the division G–4 be the sole advocate for BCT use of BCS3 and MTS in BSBs? How many BCT commanders or executive officers (XOs) understand the capabilities BCS3 and MTS offer or the information they can provide to logisticians at higher levels of the theater?

Current Operations

The bottom line is that every CSS brigade com-mander is going to do what it takes to make the war-fighters he supports successful. The Army Staff’s assistance visits last year, led by the G–3, to the 82d Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), and 4th Infantry Division yielded some important insights. Regardless of doctrinal voids or outdated regulations, the sustainment brigade commanders associated with those divisions always focused on doing the right thing. This was sometimes in spite of doctrine or regulations. All focused on the warfighter they reported to in garrison or went to war with in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

These divisions and collocated sustainment brigades developed different tactics, techniques, and procedures, standing operating procedures, or self-imposed sustainment brigade headquarters reorganizations. Some were closely aligned with the higher headquarters they habitually supported. Some were more closely aligned with the DCP or corps support command they were going to report to in war with an area support mission. Some simply reorganized what the Army gave them. Some will need to modularize again after returning from war since they did not complete the modularization process before deploying.

The common concern among many CSS brigade commanders is their relationship with the corps or division and with the DCP of the TSC to which they are assigned. This may be a generational problem that will be resolved only as the current generation of commanders, who grew up working with DISCOMs, moves on. However, sustainment brigades are not a plan for the future: they are functioning right now in Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Questions will remain even after these brigades arrive back in the continental United States. The ways in which the Army accounts for property, manages budgets, maintains vehicles, and assesses readiness are fundamentally different while improvised explosive devices are exploding and mortars are dropping in forward operating bases. We will not know the complete organizational success or failure of the sustainment brigade design until we also can evaluate the brigades at their home stations in other-than-wartime conditions.

Materiel Managers

Where did the materiel managers go? A study of the modification tables of organization and equipment (MTOEs) the Army is developing seems to show that materiel managers basically have been pushed down, up, or out. The chart on right compares the strength of materiel managers in the DISCOM materiel management center (MMC), CSG, forward support battalion (FSB), and MSB with the strength of materiel managers in the BCTs and sustainment brigade. Remember that Soldiers in the sustainment brigade are not wearing a division patch, so we may consider their materiel managers as being pushed up from the division. The numbers on the chart are approximate (give or take 8 percent) since there are multiple MTOEs, effective dates, and sources of authorizations.

Now take these figures and consider the effect of increasing the number of BCTs (and their BSBs) by a net of 10 and replacing 36 Active component DISCOMs and CGSs with 15 sustainment brigades. Then consider the increased amount of equipment in the greater number of BCTs that will require support. The ratio of materiel managers to equipment not only increases, but materiel managers migrate to a lower CSS command level in the BSBs; that pushes this management responsibility on the shoulders of BCT commanders. This may be why sustainment brigade commanders are reorganizing as they deploy into battle.

 

Professional Development

The BCT commander and command sergeant major are well equipped to develop officers and NCOs into warfighters, but they will need help in developing the same officers and NCOs as logisticians.

How will field-grade officers in a BCT be developed as logistics officers? How will CSS company commanders be developed? Will there be a female BCT headquarters and headquarters company commander in the future? These are but a few of the professional development issues that current sustainment brigade and BCT commanders are wrestling with that were not problems for the DISCOM commander. Maybe the BSBs will seek out sustainment brigade commanders to obtain professional development opportunities. Are CSS company commanders in a BCT getting the same CSS professional development opportunities as their brothers and sisters in the subordinate battalions of the sustainment brigades? This is not a new problem for the Army.

Do future BSB commanders have the depth of experience and the professional development to handle the responsibility and the potential missions that the new force structure has handed them? If there is no longer a requirement to seek and hold branch qualification positions, such as a support operations officer (SPO) or XO in a support battalion, will a CSS officer always have the right experience to be the senior logistician in a deployment? This situation arose in the early days of the Kosovo campaign, when the commander of an FSB or support squadron was the senior logistician in country. This issue has been overshadowed by current operations, where many senior logisticians have been inserted to ensure success.

The rating schemes associated with BSB and BCT commanders create interesting possibilities for composing command selection boards. Branch qualification and the norms associated with that career path are on the way out, but how an officer performs in battalion and company command will always be a factor for evaluation. Now that 50 to 60 percent of the Army’s logisticians will be rated or senior-rated by combat arms officers, maybe it is time to look at how the boards for colonel- and lieutenant colonel-level CSS commands are composed. Maybe it is time for combat arms officers to sit on all boards for CSS officers, including command boards.

Force Generation Model

We can suppose that we will fix everything that has been questioned so far. It is in our character as an Army to be adaptive, flexible, and relevant. Many of us will be needed to seek the answers to the questions before us, but success will be achieved. One question that might be beyond us, however, is grounded in pure math. Will there be enough sustainment brigade force structure to support the Army Force Generation Model of 1 year deployed, 1 year recovering, and 1 year getting ready to deploy again? The number of CSS brigades in the future may dictate force ratios that will cause sustainment brigades to either depend heavily on their DCPs or violate the 1-year-in-3 deployment ratio. Only the development of the theater in which they deploy and the duration of the next fight will answer these questions.

Some Answers

The solutions to all of these problems are found in changes associated with training and force structure to provide more logistics experience to the BCT.

The first solution that needs to be implemented, regardless of the other recommendations, is to train brigade XOs or deputy brigade commanders in DS logistics. This would not be the subject of a MACOM-sponsored course such as those used to certify a Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE) operator. Instead, what is needed is a course on the level of the Logistics Executive Development Course (LEDC) of-fered by the Army Logistics Management College at Fort Lee, Virginia.

The intent of the proposed course would not be to create logistics executives but rather to train tactical logisticians who are familiar with the capabilities of DS Standard Army Management Information Systems like the Standard Army Retail Supply System and PBUSE as well as logistics enablers like VSAT, BCS3, MTS, in-transit visibility, and radio frequency identification. The course also would include instruction on the Single Stock Fund, the Army Working Capital Fund, and the future of GCSS-Army. The course would last at least 4 weeks. Completion of the course would prepare an XO to engage in DS activities that support the BCT and expend its budget. The XO would be able to provide checks and balances for the BSB commander. The XO would be awarded a functional area in Logistics after he has gone to the course and served in his XO position.

Another approach to increasing logistics experience in the BCT would be to have a CSS officer serve as the brigade XO and a combat arms officer as the BSB XO.

Other solutions have to do with force structure—not so much with organization but more with grade levels and expertise. The most obvious solution is to make the G–4 in the division a colonel. Or there could be a chief of staff (COS) directing the entire division staff and an assistant chief of staff (ACOS) di-recting the G–1 and G–4 (both lieutenant colonels). The ACOS would answer to the COS. The ACOS or the division G–4 would be a centrally selected colonel who would be considered equivalent to the sustainment brigade commanders who might support the division. This also would improve the greatly reduced opportunities offered by the current force structure for the advancement of successful CSS battalion commanders.

Instead of putting another colonel in the division headquarters, another solution is to make one of the general officers who currently serves as an assistant division commander a logistician.

Regardless of the solution, the current force design, associated relationships, and doctrine for the sustainment brigades and for BSBs in BCTs in the modular force warrant some adjustments before the energy for change is stifled by budget constraints. The time to make these adjustments is now, while new doctrine and organizations are still being developed and support for change is still strong.
ALOG

Colonel Guy C. Beougher is the Commander of the 1st Armored Division Support Command at Wiesbaden, Germany. He has a B.S. degree in business from Emporia State University, an M.S. degree in materiel acquisition management from Florida Institute of Technology, and an M.S. degree in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.