|Delivering Value Through Logistics
|by Major Jennifer M. Stephens
The most dynamic and diverse functional element on the Army battlefield is logistics. The effectiveness of this element determines the success or failure of the battle. For the maneuver commander to be successful, logistics must deliver value through its management. Furthermore, logistics is successful when the industrial base extends its assets into the hands of individual Soldiers located worldwide. To create long-term growth and success, the global market must play a role in the theater of operations. This relationship will allow Soldiers and battlefield sustainment systems to focus on achieving combat success.
The two topics discussed here are delivering value through logistics management in the Army and creating long-term growth by tapping into global markets. These topics go hand in hand because, regardless of the product or service, global enterprising will require logistics management. The Army is transforming itself into a business organization that creates efficiency in its marketing of assets and management of logistics. To be successful, the Army must deliver value through the management of Army logistics and create long-term growth by accessing global markets.
The article “Implications of the Revised Definition of Marketing: From Exchange to Value Creation,” in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, discusses how to “deliver value through customer relationships.”1 The premise of the article is that more market value is created by developing consistent and meaningful customer relationships than by developing an exchange program using intermediary buyers and sellers of a product. By developing a good customer relationship, a business will maximize efforts and minimize time wasted in the supply train.
This value creation is developed “when two individuals/institutions with complementary resources are connected. Marketing functions (e.g., marketing
-mix activities, selling, marketing research) all inherently strive for value creation”2 and become an integral part of business. Applying this marketing philosophy to the Army logistics systems is no different than applying it to civilian business systems. The Army is a business, and part of that business is logistics and the marketing of new equipment.
Transforming Cold War Logistics
The end of the Cold War had profound effects on the philosophy of military logistics and the way the modern U.S. Army markets its capabilities. Former Army Chief of Staff General Gordon R. Sullivan began to “revamp our powerful but sluggish post-Cold War Army into a responsive, sustainable force capable of projecting, sustaining, and protecting our Nation's interest while fighting our wars well into the 21st century.”3
The restructure was a direct result of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. Stockpiling weapons, ammunition, and vehicles at various strategic sites around the theater of operations was a popular approach, especially on a linear battlefield. During the Cold War, it was possible to position supplies close to the theater of operations when the threat and the location of the attack forces were known. This is no longer the optimum method of providing logistics in this new era of force projection on the battlefield.4 The current battlefield is not clearly defined, nor is it linear, which requires logistics forces to be adaptable and flexible.
During the Cold War, forces were sustained through various lines of support; but now, with force projection and modern maneuver warfare, first, second, and third lines of support do not exist. Instead, forward support companies (FSCs) are attached to maneuver units. The FSCs maintain ties to the sustainment brigades, linking the tactical supply chain to the logistics base.
With pressure on defense budgets and the need to be able to undertake a larger number of operational tasks than had previously been considered, there has been a closer examination of how commercial organizations approach logistics and how to deliver value to Soldiers. Commercial businesses succeed through strategic marketing of resources and total-process views of the supply chain. The Army is now internalizing these processes within its daily operations. As a direct result of streamlining the logistics chain, the Department of Defense (DOD) adopted initiatives like “lean logistics” and “focused logistics” and acknowledged that they are smart ways of procuring, marketing, and distributing equipment for the fighting force.
Relevance of Marketing in the Army
In any business plan, the subject matter must be relevant to delivering value in an effective and efficient manner. In today’s Global War on Terrorism, Army logisticians are on the front lines throughout the world. Logisticians’ work, while difficult and often dangerous, ensures that warfighters have the supplies and mobility required to engage and defeat the enemy. Logisticians not only enable rapid deployment, effective execution, and long-term sustainment of agile, lethal, and mobile warfighting forces; they also act in conjunction with the civilian market to introduce new products to the Army and enable it to meet the challenges of the current security environment.
The need for strategic marketing for Army logistics capabilities is imperative. Companies waste large segments of their marketing budgets on communicating generic messages to a broad and undifferentiated target market. An organization must identify its unique value proposition and market niche and target messages toward prospective customers who most likely need what it is offering. Army logisticians are responsible for bringing civilian products to the Army market, and they share in the success or failure of that process.
A strength of Army logistics is value engineering. Value engineering is a systematic process of analyzing functions to identify actions that reduce cost, increase quality, and improve mission capabilities across DOD systems, processes, and organizations. The DOD Value Engineering Program continues to be an incentive for the Government and its industry counterparts to improve the joint value proposition by promoting innovation and creativity.5 These innovative proposals seek best-value solutions as part of a successful business relationship. During fiscal year 2004, “1,723 in-house value engineering proposals and contractor-initiated value engineering change proposals were accepted with projected savings/cost avoidance in excess of $1 billion.”6 Adopting value engineering has saved the United States time, money, and Soldiers’ time that would have been spent fielding ineffective or nonessential equipment.
Logisticians are always dealing with things that are broken and problems that have to be solved. The Army is no different than any other organization. With the explosion of military globalization, getting the right equipment to the right Soldier at the right time can be slightly more than difficult. Marketing current capabilities to the Soldier on the battlefield is limited by the quality of communications in remote areas. This can be a significant weakness in Army logistics. Early in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Soldiers in the Anbar Province of Iraq were operating in an area where Internet connectivity was nearly nonexistent. The Soldiers had to trek to a supporting forward operating base (FOB) to find current information on what was available for their use. As the years progressed, the Army attempted to use technology to correct this weakness. With web-based systems, such as the Logistics Support Agency’s Integrated Logistics Analysis Program, it is easier for Soldiers in the field to see which pieces of equipment are in depot-level warehouses awaiting delivery to the theater. However, an Internet connection is required to successfully use such systems.
The military has begun to recognize the importance of logistics within a “cradle to grave” perspective.7 This means relying less on internal supply and transportation systems and relying more on contract logistics support to military operations. Currently in Iraq, this contract logistics support is performed through the Army’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). LOGCAP has an increasingly important role in sustaining operations around the world8 and has been a valuable marketing tool for the armed forces. Marketing and distributing timely logistics equipment and support “is critical in providing support for the Soldiers in our ongoing Global War on Terror and Army transformation efforts. Our Soldiers’ effectiveness depends upon a sustained but flexible national commitment to equip and support them properly.”9
One great thing about the Army is that it is in a constant stage of change. But one bad thing about constant change is having to market new technology to users on the battlefield. Information flow and internal marketing systems are crucial to mission success. Contractors that develop new pieces of equipment are doing their part and sending out representatives to take equipment to Soldiers in remote locations instead of expecting the Soldiers to find the contractor. Some contractors also provide ongoing training and maintenance support for their equipment. This is valuable in the contracting stage of new equipment and is part of the marketing plans of competitive organizations.
Tapping Into Global Markets
Business planning helps to manage the “effects of uncontrollable external factors on business strengths, weaknesses, and goals. However, the biggest difference in planning for global markets . . . [is] the degree of localization [required] to market a product or service.”10 In the case of operations in Iraq, localization is an important consideration. Localization of the intended service is paramount to successful product placement. Anbar Province, for example, has rudimentary technology, so it requires high amounts of individual man-hours to get the product to the user—in this case the Soldier.
The Department of the Army G–4 manages the provision of materiel for Soldiers worldwide—a task that has remained the same for years. Today’s operational environment has changed; the United States is a nation at war, and the Army is the primary force that must be relevant and ready. The most critical tasks of the G–4 are to sustain the combat readiness of the deployed force and to maintain the operational readiness of the current force in the United States. The current force provides the warfighting readiness that serves our Nation, and the deployed force is replaced on a rotational basis. The fundamental challenge within the G–4 is to enhance the current capabilities and bring new and effective equipment to market. The G–4 must simultaneously transform Army logistics for tomorrow with effective marketing and distribution plans for future equipment.
The Army logistics program is strengthened by involving the Nation’s allied forces. Getting equipment to the Soldier on a large scale requires global procurement, marketing, and distribution efforts. As a result of this need, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) devised principles of logistics for the companies that market and distribute equipment to its member nations. Some of the main principles of logistics accepted by NATO are the “design and development, acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation, and disposition of materiel.”11 Allied forces are “making moves towards improved distribution and inventory.”12
The NATO principles of logistics are also standards of the U.S. Army. The current military environment in which they are applied can be seen in current operations in Iraq, where marketing and distribution companies are adapting their business models to military logistics.
During Operation Desert Storm, the Army’s concern was focused on significant deficiencies in force readiness and the ability to rapidly mobilize, deploy, and fight.
Correcting the many problems presented a broad challenge to those responsible for logistics support. While materiel readiness remained a very important part of this challenge, it became apparent that the ability to receive units into the theater, integrate them into the operation, and sustain them as long as necessary was vital to successful support of the Army. Decisions in recent years to reduce supporting forces, thereby increasing the combat-to-support ratio and providing more initial fighting punch, have made maintaining this ability more difficult.
So the Army has increasingly turned to contractors to market, procure, distribute, and maintain equipment and provide services to Soldiers through programs such as LOGCAP. According to Marine Corps Major General Walter E. Gaskin, the commanding general of Multinational Force West in Anbar Province, “the building of logistics capability across the Iraqi forces continues to be a challenging, but doable task.”13 General Gaskin recognizes some progress but also a need for continued growth. The past years have seen some improvement in many of the Army’s logistics programs in the area. Among logisticians, there has been a heightened awareness that improvement must not only continue but also expand and accelerate to help ensure a sufficient level of force readiness in the future.
Logistics Improvements for the Army
What is being done in the areas needing improvement? First and foremost, there must be a link from Army logistics management to the global market. At Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Iraq, one unit is rising to the task and adapting to the new modular Army. The 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) assumed authority of the logistics support mission for the Iraqi theater from the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) in 2007. The 316th ESC was “the first command to use the Army’s new modular force logistics structure. This structure changes the way we provide logistics support on the battlefields today.”14 The transition of bringing logistics in modular form to maneuver forces marked a new chapter for the Army.
Another example of a current trend in Iraq is the use of signal-jamming improvised explosive device (IED) countermeasure equipment (ICE). ICE is a radio-controlled IED countermeasure that is completely made up of commercial-off-the-shelf technology marketed by civilian companies contracted to work with DOD. ICE is identified as a preventive solution to IED casualties, and the Army has adopted the system because of its continued proven success in reducing serious casualties.15 ICE is a jamming system mounted on military vehicles and uses low-power radio frequency energy to block the signals of radio-controlled explosives initiators, such as cell phones, satellite phones, and long-range cordless telephones.16 The number of casualties on the battlefield has decreased through the use of this countermeasure.
Another piece of relatively new equipment for the Soldier is the Army combat uniform (ACU). This uniform increases performance capabilities through the application of new camouflage technologies, functional fabric finishes, and design engineering. It also reduces sustainment costs. Bringing this uniform to market required scientists to fuse a variety of terrain environments into a single visual camouflage design by analyzing terrain types and then incorporating the results into an acceptable digitized pattern. The ACU includes a coat, trousers, a moisture-wicking t-shirt, a rigger-style belt, improved moisture-wicking anti-blister socks, and no-shine tan combat boots. The Chief of Staff of the Army approved the ACU to replace the battle dress uniform and the desert camouflage uniform in 2005. Ultimately, the uniform is designed to reduce maintenance costs and increase functionality on the battlefield.17
Finally, the Global Combat Support System-Army (Field/Tactical) (GCSS-Army [F/T]) allows combatant commanders to remain relevant and ready in the new modular Army. Getting this system to the field requires a marketing campaign that allows field units to embrace the system as part of their established work routine. The benefits of this system range from high-level advantages, like maximizing Army warfighting readiness and relevance, to low-level advantages that improve how Soldiers perform their daily duties.18 The system fully automates tactical logistics support of the new modular Army and serves as a major component of the critical cradle-to-grave support philosophy that the Army is trying to achieve. It also reduces uncertainty in logistics marketing and makes logistics distribution more reliable and predictable.
GCSS-Army (F/T) provides asset visibility and enables system and transaction problems to be identified and fixed in near-real time. Commanders in theater can watch their equipment moving from the manufacturer through the depot to the point of delivery at the FOB. GCSS-Army (F/T) brings together Army tactical logistics enterprises and the other services’ logistics systems to facilitate joint operations and reduce redundancy. Real knowledge of supply and movement factors must be the basis of every leader’s plan; only with knowledge can he know how and when to take risks. With so much inventory maintained in the Army, taking calculated risks with marketing and delivering products can win battles and wars.
Logistics planners and commanders at all levels now have access to complete, up-to-date, and reliable logistics information for battle preparation and sustainment. The centralized logistics database enables war planners to “see” on-hand equipment and determine its readiness condition. Real-time, universal access to actionable and reliable data will speed the completion of logistics transactions and facilitate shipment processing and flow. The right piece of equipment will get to the right Soldier at the right time, which is the ultimate goal.19
Building on this success, the Army G–4 has stated that it will supply the force by focusing its efforts on four clear imperatives: Connect Army logisticians, modernize theater marketing and distribution through new tracking systems, improve force reception, and integrate the supply chain. GCSS-Army (F/T) will revolutionize Army logistics in Active and Reserve component units, standardize most logistics business processes, and serve as a primary enabler of Army Forces Generation.20
The Soldier on the battlefield “wants logistics where he needs it, when he needs it, with the right quality and quantity, every time.”21 Army logisticians will continue to build confidence in the minds of the combatant commanders by delivering sustainment on time every time. Delivering sustainment through effective marketing and distribution can only be done if Army logisticians have the ability to see the requirements and control the distribution to guarantee precise support within the commanders’ timeframes. Army logisticians can be part of a global market that increases speed to deliver focused logistics. If the Army logistician is connected, there will most assuredly be improved distribution systems, modernized force reception, and integrated supply management.
Major Jennifer M. Stephens is the executive officer of the Kansas City Recruiting Battalion. She has a bachelor’s degree in international business and finance from the University of Louisville, a master’s degree in business administration and global management from the University of Phoenix, and a juris doctor degree from Concord School of Law. She is working on her doctoral degree in organizational behavior and leadership at Northcentral University.
1 J. Sheth and C. Uslay, “Implications of the Revised Definition of Marketing: From Exchange to Value Creation.” Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 26(2), 2007, p. 302. Retrieved from EBSCOHost Research Database; accessed 10 April 2008.
2 Ibid., p. 303.
3 T. Juskowiak, “Better, Stronger, Faster: Army Transformation and Early Entry Operations,” Army Logistician (November–December 2001). Online at http://www.alu.army.mil/alog/issues/NovDec01/
MS737.htm; accessed 14 April 2008.
4 Juskowiak, p. 1.
5 American Forces Press Service, “Department of Defense Value Engineering Achievement Awards” (June 2005). Online at http://www.defenselink.mil/Releases/
Release.aspx?ReleaseID=8595; accessed 10 April 2008.
6 E. Cramer and W. Thurmond, Acquisition and Logistics Excellence 34(5), (September-October 2005) p. 84. Retrieved from EBSCOhost Research Database; accessed 19 March 2008.
7 Army Posture Statement 2008. Online at www.army.mil/aps/08/information_papers/transform/
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8 C. Baldwin, “LOGCAP and the Warfighter: Army Material Command Seeks ‘On the Ground’ Perspectives.” Quartermaster Professional Bulletin (2004). Online at http://www.quartermaster.army.mil/oqmg/Professional_Bulletin
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9 Army Posture Statement 2008, p.1.
10 L. Delaney, “Global Local Color.” Entrepreneur (December 2007), p. 104. Retrieved from EBSCOhost Research Database; accessed 11 April 2008.
11 The NATO Logistics Handbook, Third Edition, October 1997. Online at http://www.otan.nato.int/docu/logi-en/logist97.htm; accessed 11 April 2008.
12 C. Price-White, “NATO Faces a New Supply Front.” Frontline Solutions Europe 11(7), (2002) pp. 56–57. Retrieved from EBSCOHost Research Database; accessed 14 April 2008.
13 G. Gilmore, “Anbar Situation Has ‘Turned the Corner,’ U.S. General Says,” American Forces Press Service (July 2007). Online at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=46792; accessed 14 April 2008.
14 Army News Service, “Army Logistics Beginning New Chapter in Iraq.” Defense AT & L 36(6), (August 9, 2007), pp. 47–48. Retrieved from EBSCOHost Research Database; accessed 1 April 2008.
15 Army Research Laboratories, “Army’s Greatest Inventions of 2004.” Online at http://www.dacp16.net/2004ArmyGreatestinv.htm; accessed 14 April 2008.
16 C. Wilson, Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq: Effects and Countermeasures. CRS Report for Congres (November 2005), pp. 1–6. Online at http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/57512.pdf; accessed 14 April 2008.
17 Army Developmental Test Command, “New Army Combat Uniform” (2005). Online at http://www.dtc.army.mil/ig/newACU.aspx; accessed 12 April 2008.
18 GCSS-Army, Global Combat Support System-Army (Field/Tactical) (2008). Online at https://www.gcssarmy.lee.army.mil/
ft/index.html; accessed 2 April 2008.
20 Army logistics white paper. Defense AT & L 33(2), (March–April 2004) pp.48–50. Retrieved from EBSCOhost Research Database; accessed 19 March 2008.
21 Juskowiak, p. 1.