Army plans new command to integrate logistics
Plagued by shortages, Army seeks to manage logistics better through centralized command
- By Dawn S. Onley
- Jul 19, 2005
Logistics has always been a chink in the Army's armor.
The scope and mission of the military frequently requires the Army to deploy soldiers to remote locations with poor roads, poor communications systems and a lack of other services. Troops deal with supply shortages and commanders wrestle with what they call limited asset visibility'difficulty in knowing where all its materiel is located'which makes it hard to track and fulfill supply orders.
Compounding the problem is the multitude of the Army's logistics systems that are not interoperable. They each have different software components and operate on dissimilar hardware platforms.
Managing the supply chain is 'one of the things we have not done well, and the people who get the short end of the stick are the logisticians,' Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, Army CIO, said during a recent Army IT conference.
Army officials believe they have a solution.
To better manage logistics processes in the Army, service brass are considering a plan that would transform the existing Army Field Support Command at Rock Island, Ill., into the Army Sustainment Command.
In concept, ASC would be a centralized location for total lifecycle management, contingency contracting, and supply and maintenance management, officials said. It would provide standardized logistics support across the Army.
'We're overwhelming the warfighters. We need to establish a single place for them to contact,' said Gregory L. Kee, the Army's deputy G-3 for future operations.
ASC would retain some existing Army Field Support Command functions, such as field support, management of Army prepositioned stocks and the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program.
The prepositioned stocks of supplies and equipment are maintained to support military units during a war or other military action. The stocks are distributed, as needed, by air, sea or on land near a potential conflict, giving the military the ability to respond quickly to a contingency, officials said. The service's prepositioned stocks are managed by the Army Materiel Command.
But there are bottlenecks in the process.
The Army has had trouble supporting troops in the early stages of a deployment, Kee said, and 'limited communications, shortages of trucks and ground transportation assets, and limited asset visibility have also hindered our distribution system.'
Kee said the Army is transforming to improve its responsiveness and flexibility. Part of that transformation involves improving the logistics chain.
'As we looked at the transformation of the Army we saw the need to provide a national focus to execute worldwide logistics to support a more stable deployment cycle,' that covered forces from quick deployments through their return, Kee said. 'DOD and the Army have recognized these shortfalls and have been working aggressively to fix these problems.'
Kee is responsible for analyzing, integrating and assessing new concepts, strategies and future technologies into the Army Materiel Command. He spoke at a recent luncheon sponsored by the American Council for Technology and its sister organization, the Industry Advisory Council. Afterward, he elaborated on the Army's plans for the Sustainment Command.
Kee said technology figures prominently in tying together all the logistics pieces of the still-nascent ASC plan. He said that through the Single Army Logistics Enterprise Architecture, the Army is developing an enterprise architecture to standardize end-to-end processes.
'We're trying to tie all the different pieces together so it's seamless. You can't do all of this without the technology. With standardized business practices and integrated supply information, we expect to improve our distribution system,' he said.
The Army's Field Support Command has over 3,000 personnel including active duty soldiers, Army civilians, foreign nationals and contractors.
Kee declined to discuss the potential number of employees for the Army Sustainment Command, saying the plans are too premature at this point.