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Toward a Union of Deployment and Distribution

Operation Iraqi Freedom once again proved that our current doctrine and automated systems for planning and executing the deployment and sustainment of forces are inadequate to the needs of the Army and the combatant commanders. Our systems continue to be stovepiped, service centric, and guarded like the rice bowl of a starving man. Worse, our processes are too complex—so complex they almost defy even the best attempts at peacetime training. We have a lack of data sharing and systems integration, both within and across the services, and a lack of will within the Department of Defense (DOD) to force the necessary changes. Data often cannot be shared or integrated because data sets between services and between DOD systems are incompatible.

We also do not conduct proper logistics planning with the operations community before opening a battle. For example, during planning, the warfighter often will not give up space in the force flow so logistics units can move with their combat force customers. Instead, the logistics units are placed late in the force flow and, when they arrive in theater, must play catchup. This means that once combat begins, logisticians operate in a reactive mode, flying too much of what the warfighter needs as priority 1 (see chart below).

What follows are a few thoughts on what we have and what we need to plan and execute deployment and sustainment successfully.

Before Hostilities Begin

During the planning phase of an operation, logisticians first must be “read in” to the plan, including the roles of the Army Materiel Command, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contractors. These logisticians and their transportation and distribution partners in the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) must map the distribution system based on the warfighters’ operational plan, the larger area of operations, its air and sea ports, road and rail lines, bridges, and the assets available to handle and transport cargo to and within the theater.

Getting materiel to the requesting units depends on the available transportation infrastructure (the pipelines and their nodes), the conveyances available to carry the materiel, and the supporting units’ ability to support the
conveyances and process the materiel for onward movement, final distribution, or storage. (The road and rail network, waterways, and usable airspace are the pipelines, and the ports, railheads, and other facilities are the nodes. The various military and commercial assets, such as aircraft, vessels, trucks, railcars, rail engines, barges and tugs, and containers are the conveyances.)

An analysis is needed to determine the size of the overall distribution pipeline and the limits of both the pipeline and its supporting nodes. Identifying these limits is vital because the throughput of a given pipeline and its nodes cannot be increased without knowing the limiting factors. Planners also must remember that the capacity of these pipelines and nodes will decrease with time and use as the infrastructure deteriorates. However, repairs and improvements can be made to the infrastructure to maintain or increase the carrying capacity of a pipeline and its nodes. The available carrying capacity also may be affected by competition with civilian businesses for use of the pipeline and nodes.

The availability of conveyances must be determined. These can be military or civilian assets, but their use may be limited by the combat situation, the pipeline and its nodes, and the priority assigned to the combatant commander in worldwide operations. Commercial conveyances may not be available during periods of combat because of force-protection concerns, competing civilian use, or infrastructure constraints at a node. Use of nodes and pipelines may be limited also because of competing civilian use. If the pipeline, nodes, and support units and equipment can handle extra conveyances, throughput can be increased by adding more military or civilian conveyances.

The available military and civilian support units and equipment must be determined based on the physical constraints of the pipeline and its nodes or the desired capacity. These constraints can result from inadequate container- and materials-handling equipment, conveyance support equipment (the many pieces of equipment needed to support aircraft, vessels, trucks, railcars, rail engines, and barges), and automated logistics systems. Adding more units or equipment does not increase capacity unless they are the limiting factors.

We now have an idea of the capacity of the transportation pipelines and nodes, the limiting factor in each pipeline and node, and the expected speed of movement through a given pipeline. We also may be able to determine if the capacity can be increased if necessary by adding resources or opening new pipelines.

Once the distribution system is mapped, we need to estimate—by force or capability module, unit, and weapon system—the materiel needed each week to support the warfighter. Conducting this analysis before hostilities begin allows the Army Materiel Command and DLA to locate required stocks by storage location or to order what is needed from suppliers. As the plan matures, this materiel should be packaged for shipment and moved to ports of embarkation. If the plan is mature and the units are resourced, this packaging could be done by force or capability module, the unit Department of Defense Activity Address Code (DODAAC) in a configured load, or by expected usage per weapon system for a given period of time (per week, for example). When hostilities start, or before when possible, this materiel should be loaded onto ships and sent to the combatant commander’s area of operations so it is ready when needed and will not compete with deploying units for air transport space.

Wartime ASLs

The larger issue is that we support the force with peacetime authorized stockage lists (ASLs) and do not have real wartime ASLs. Thus, when we go to war, we strip the shelves of stocks and leave nothing for follow-on sustainment. Past initiatives by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to make peacetime class IX (spare and repair parts) supply cost efficient proved not to be cost effective for wartime. However, if we do the analysis, we may actually find that using air transport in wartime is far less expensive than storing a huge stockpile of parts for years and years so they will be available for surface shipment during war. The Global War on Terrorism has changed everything. During this new kind of war, there may be no intervals between uses for many key systems, but constant war instead, which will increase the need for stocks and escalate their cost. For some other systems, there still could be long intervals between periods of high use.

For example, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, we knew the approximate distances to be covered by units and the expected consumption of items such as tank tracks and pads and truck tires. The expected requirements could have been packaged in advance and sent by sea as soon as hostilities began so the materiel would be on hand in Kuwait when needed. At the same time, replenishment orders from suppliers could have been placed. While not a perfect solution, it would have placed materiel in the area of operations ready for issue to the warfighter and reduced the amount of materiel shipped as priority 1 by air at 10 times the cost of ocean shipment.

Automated Ordering, Packing, and Shipping

Ordering, packing, and shipping actions involve the allocation of funds, which is always problematic before the actual beginning of an operation. However, being proactive at this point can provide increased capability to support the warfighter, save large sums of money in air shipping costs, and reduce potential war-disrupting distribution bottlenecks later.

To assist in the ordering, packing, and shipping processes, DLA has created an Integrated Consumable Item Support (ICIS) model (currently undergoing further development). The ICIS simulation accepts usage data by national stock number (NSN) for supply classes I (subsistence), IIIP (packaged petroleum), VII (major end items), and IX. These usage data are based on historical data from combat operations and include factors for climate, terrain, and operating tempo. The output is the required quantity of items listed by NSN. If ICIS is used, its output can be checked against available stocks by type of stock at each storage location and against any shortfalls. Requirements identified by ICIS then can be packaged for shipment or consolidation at Defense Distribution Center Susquehanna, Pennsylvania (DDSP). Storage locations can reorder as necessary to refill stocks and meet expected increases in demand based on combat operations.

At DDSP, stocks can be packed by NSN, weapon system, or the DODAAC of the expected user of a push package. The containers used for this packaging should be considered for purchase or long-term lease to avoid detention charges. Containers then could be shipped via commercial carriers to the theater. ICIS model output can be entered into the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System (JOPES) as cargo increment numbers (CINs) for modeling with the Joint Flow Analysis System for Transportation (JFAST). If shipment is by liner service, it may not be necessary to generate CINs.

In theater, materiel will be held for issue as ordered or, if communication through the Standard Army Retail Supply System (SARSS) is not available and packaging is by configured load, a radio communication from a unit can release a specified load for that unit’s DODAAC.

The ICIS simulation also can be used to locate potential bottlenecks in the distribution system before an operation begins. This ability to forecast bottlenecks is vital. Using JOPES deployment data, JFAST modeling, ICIS, and information on actual or scheduled moves of units and resupply, a picture of the distribution system can be built and bottlenecks identified before they occur. Planners and operators badly need an automated system that can compare data from JOPES, JFAST, and ICIS to the constraints of the distribution system and provide warnings
of bottlenecks.

Linking Resupply to TPFDD

Most supply data are not shown in Time Phased Force Deployment Data (TPFDD) or JOPES. The automated system used by the Distribution Process Owner (TRANSCOM) to track supplies moving through the Defense Transportation System is the Global Transportation Network (GTN) (to be replaced in 2004 with GTN 21). To view supply data in GTN, the user must know the transportation control numbers (TCNs) of the cargo or the DODAAC of the receiving unit. The user cannot simply select a unit identification code (UIC), unit line number (ULN), force module, or TPFDD and query on all resupply cargo en route.

JOPES uses UICs and ULNs as key data, while GTN uses TCNs. The relationship of the UIC to the DODAAC is one to many—each UIC has more than one DODAAC. One of these DODAACs is the “ship to” address of the unit and is used in building TCNs. A mobility TCN also can be created using a UIC or ULN instead of a DODAAC. The relationship of UIC to ULN is also one to many—each UIC usually has more than one ULN associated with it. For example, the personnel and equipment for a unit often have different ULNs because the personnel move by air and the equipment moves by sea. Lettered companies in a battalion also usually have separate ULNs.

To match a requisition or cargo shipment to the TPFDD, a cross-reference table is needed between a unit’s UIC and ship-to DODAAC. Such a table exists for Army units, but it must be added to GTN and linked to the incoming transactions and the other data tables if it is used. This list also must be maintained carefully because the DODAAC ship-to address changes when a unit moves within or between theaters.

If we can link the UIC in JOPES to the DODAAC in GTN, we may be able to create a query that will allow users to enter an operation plan or force module identification number and one or more UICs. The query will return in-transit visibility data for resupply cargo moving in the Defense Transportation System, including the receiving unit or units, cargo description, current location, and estimated time of arrival of the cargo. Once such a table is placed in GTN and the necessary links are created, the code in GTN will examine an incoming TCN to determine if it is a resupply TCN or some other type. If it is a resupply TCN, the DODAAC will be cross-checked against the UIC or DODAAC cross-reference table. If the matching UIC is also in the TPFDD, the unit movement dates, locations, and other JOPES data will be available for queries. As an alternative, the requisition number could be used instead of the TCN. This would be more difficult, but it would capture shipments moving by depot. (The DODAAC in the TCN would start with SW.)

Unit Readiness and Movement Planning

Our current operational and movement planning systems are stovepiped and have limited or no data sharing. The JOPES uses data from the Type Unit Characteristics File (TUCHA) for equipment in a unit and data from the Global Status of Resources and Training System (GSORTS) for unit readiness. However, neither of these data sources is current. TUCHA is based on equipment authorizations, not actual equipment on hand, and GSORTS typically is updated only once a month. However, the Army has several other systems that provide current information about equipment on hand in units, including the Standard Property Book System (SPBS) and the Transportation Coordinators’ Automated Information for Movements System II (TC–AIMS II). The Unit-Level Logistics System (ULLS) provides unit equipment readiness data that are only a day or two old, not a month old as with the GSORTS. Personnel readiness data should be provided by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) or the Standard Installation/Division Personnel System (SIDPERS), which show authorized versus assigned personnel. Training readiness data still must come from GSORTS until an automated system is created to replace it.

Data from the SPBS, DMDC, and SIDPERS can be fed into any number of systems, such as the GSORTS, JOPES, TC–AIMS II, or the Combined Forces Data Base, for use in deployment planning. Data from the TC–AIMS II can be fed into the Automated Air Load Planning System (AALPS) to produce information that will assist in planning aircraft loads. The data can be fed into the Integrated Computerized Deployment System (ICODES) to obtain information that can be useful for planning ocean vessel loads. TC–AIMS II can also generate radio frequency identification tags for equipment and supplies.

The current AALPS is not networked. Load plans must be faxed to the Air Mobility Command (AMC). AALPS should be networked so that planning data entered at the installation or received from TC–AIMS II can be transmitted to AMC. AMC then can make final decisions on aircraft types, configurations, and quantities and transmit this information back to both the installation-level AALPS and TC–AIMS II. This AALPS data and the detailed air passenger and equipment manifest data from TC–AIMS II should be transmitted to the Global Air Transportation Execution System (GATES) as planning data. Equipment and cargo manifest data moving by sea should be transmitted to ICODES for use in vessel load planning. As with AALPS, any changes made at the seaport by ICODES should be sent back to TC–AIMS II.

When a unit reports to an airfield, all air movement data are already in GATES. If a vehicle fails the joint inspection or the actual load changes for any reason, this information can be entered into GATES at the airfield and transmitted to both AALPS and TC–AIMS II. If the unit is changing aircraft at an air-to-air interface site, this site should have the ability to see the planning data in GATES or AALPS and make any necessary changes. With these data, AALPS or GATES can be used to plan the onward movement, keeping UIC or ULN integrity as much as possible. This also can work in theater, such as in a change from a C–17 Globemaster to a C–130 Hercules aircraft.

The suggestions I have made require new business rules, policies, procedures, and training that are not service centric and stovepiped. They also require changes to current systems that will enable them to exchange data in specified formats. These types of changes can be made only at the OSD and joint levels, and they must have the complete cooperation of the services.

Our goal should be a Joint Logistics Command run by TRANSCOM. This joint command should own both the deployment and distribution processes and have the necessary authority and required resources. As the DOD Distribution Process Owner, TRANSCOM must take the lead in this effort with substantial backing from the OSD.

Colonel Robert F. Carpenter, USAR, is serving on active duty in the Force Projection Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–4, Department of the Army. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College and is enrolled in the Army War College.