Strategic Sustainment to the Warfighter
Section 1: An 'Opportune Lift' Showcases Joint Logistics Capabilities Jonathan D. Marcus
Section 3: Customer Support Representative for DLA's Contingency Support Team MAJ William T Klaus
Section 1: An 'Opportune Lift' Showcases Joint Logistics Capabilities
Jonathan D. Marcus
Reprinted with permission by Army Logistician Magazine.This article was originally published in the January-February 2005 issue of Army Logistician Professional Bulletin of United States Army Logistics, PB 700-05-1, Volume 37, Issue 5.
Between 1 and 16 March 2004, the Army and the Marine Corps executed a joint ammunition shipping operation aboard the Military Sealift Command's large, medium-speed, roll-on-roll-off ship USNS Soderman. This example of joint cooperation came about after the Army Field Support Command (AFSC) at Rock Island, Illinois, agreed to assist the Marine Corps in an "opportune lift" of ammunition that the Marines wanted moved to Europe. An "opportune lift" is defined by the Department of Defense as that portion of lift capability available for use after planned requirements have been met. At the time, AFSC was in the process of preparing to transport equipment and ammunition for Combat Equipment Group-Afloat (CEG-A), which is a subcommand of AFSC. After a series of conversations among personnel at several different commands, AFSC assisted the Marine Corps in transporting Marine ammunition to Italy aboard the Soderman.
This Army-Marine Corps interservice operation built on joint activities that AFSC has conducted in the past several years, particularly during Operation Enduring Freedom. It allowed AFSC to save the Government money while expediting the shipment of ammunition to the Marine Corps in Europe.
AFSC pre-positions ships throughout the world to transport equipment and ammunition to warfighters in the field as part of the Army Pre-positioned Stocks (APS) Program. CEG-A manages operations connected with APS Afloat. The Soderman is assigned to Theater Flotilla Group III, one of AFSC's groups of pre-positioned vessels.
Ammunition to Europe
On 1 and 2 March, the Soderman was uploaded at Charleston Naval Weapons Station in South Carolina with 17 shipping containers of Marine Corps ammunition. These containers held approximately 6,000 155-millimeter artillery projectiles and were stored on the ship alongside Army ammunition. At the port, CEG-A personnel monitored the upload of the containers onto the Soderman.
The Soderman departed Charleston Naval Weapons Station on 3 March and arrived at Talamone, Italy, on 16 March. A contract group of Italian longshoremen offloaded the ship over 2 days. The ammunition then was taken by schooner through the Navacelli Canal to Camp Darby, Italy, for temporary storage with additional ammunition assets coming from elsewhere in Europe. The Marine Corps ammunition and the other stocks eventually will become part of the War Reserve Stocks for Allies program and will be shipped to another host nation. After the Soderman was downloaded and emptied of ammunition, it continued on its mission to upload equipment at Combat Equipment Battalion-Livorno in Italy.
Joint Service Coordination
The mission's success depended in large part on the expertise and collaborative efforts of individuals who knew how to work within both the Army and Marine Corps logistics systems. Because the mission was outside the normal logistics chain, it required communication and coordination among individuals associated with Army war reserves at AFSC, the Joint Munitions Command, CEG-A, the Army Materiel Command (AMC), and the Marine Corps.
Dave Lakeman, a quality assurance specialist (ammunition surveillance) with AFSC, observed-
How did the Marine Corps know how to coordinate the activities from individuals at all these organizations, much less know the ship was coming? They didn't. It was individuals who were working war reserves that knew the Marine Corps needed these assets. They used their initiative and said, "Hey, we have an idea. We have a ship coming this way, so let's see if we can expedite the process and see if it is feasible."
The director of ammunition operations at Combat Equipment Battalion-Livorno contacted an ammunition officer at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe, who gained approval for the operation from Marine Corps leaders and War Reserve Stocks for Allies managers. Approval also was obtained from Combat Equipment Group-Europe and Combat Equipment Battalion-Livorno. The Marine ammunition officer also communicated with a logistics management specialist at AMC, who coordinated with the AFSC headquarters to work out the details of the actual shipping.
Under the usual procedures, the Marine Corps ammunition would have been placed on a regular list of items that needed to be shipped to Europe. The Military Sealift Command then would have determined which ships it had available during the requested timeframe to move the ammunition from the United States to Europe. The Military Sealift Command generally has rotating shipments from the United States to Europe designated for certain times of the year. It consolidates ammunition for shipment and distributes it from a designated location in Europe. Executing a joint operation with AFSC produced a huge cost savings for the Marine Corps.
A willingness to assist another service was important to the mission's success. A precedent for the Soderman operation occurred sseveral years ago, when the Marine Corps assisted AFSC in moving some ammunition out of Norway. The Marine Corps had a ship coming into Norway to take Marine assets out. They consented to take along Army assets that AFSC needed to transport from Norway. The Soderman operation thus was another good example of one service helping out another.
Significant Cost Savings
The Soderman joint shipping operation saved the Marine Corps approximately $1.2 million. The Marine Corps also saved about $500,000 in handling and storage fees because the Army already had requisitioned and paid for the ship.
The Marines also will benefit from another cost saving when their ammunition is shipped to its final destination. Just as the opportune lift from the United States resulted in transportation cost savings, attaching the Marine Corps ammunition to the ammunition shipment going from Italy to its final destination will produce a second cost saving.
Much effort is devoted to consolidating cargo shipments when possible. AFSC and AMC personnel contact transportation personnel at the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command at Fort Eustis, Virginia, who then provide information to the Military Sealift Command on the shipment. AFSC and AMC ask the two transportation commands if another shipper already is scheduled to transport a shipment at the same time they want to move assets.
Moving ammunition presents special challenges. According to Paul Gebhardtsbauer, an AMC logistics management specialist-
For general cargo, the bill for shipping is split and you pay for the space used. But ammunition presents a hazard not found in most other commodities. When ammunition is shipped, it is always shipped from places where the risk that's presented is minimum to those people involved in the operation. The ship can't go and dock anywhere except another port that is currently licensed to accept the munitions.
The Soderman operation was an example of successful joint service coordination and cooperation. It also provided a snapshot of the current state of joint global logistics support within AFSC and throughout the Army and the Department of Defense. The process involved in bringing together all of the elements to make this operation successful was complex and somewhat fortuitous.
The future path in military logistics support has been described in recent Army Transformation documents and joint doctrine. These sources include Joint Vision 2020; the 2003 Army Transformation Roadmap; Joint Publication 4-0, Logistics; and leading reports in commercial publications. They describe the evolution of many new ideas in logistics, including Focused Logistics, a global logistics command, the Global Combat Support System, and information fusion that will link Defense logisticians throughout the world to a joint logistics common operating picture.
The ability to "focus" logistics packages and anticipate needs will lead to a more methodical and precise delivery of equipment, materials, and ammunition to warfighters in the field and will prove vital in supporting a campaign-quality Army with a joint and expeditionary mindset. Patrick Monahan, a strategic planning officer at AFSC, notes, "Supporting the joint and expeditionary mindset requires a change of perspective-anticipating the foxhole requirements, satisfying them and not trying to make the industrial base make the foxhole accommodate us. We're trying to satisfy all their requirements by changing here."
Achieving a joint logistics common operating picture depends on information fusion-connecting logisticians to each other in support of the regional combatant commanders. When a joint common operating picture allows the global support structure to be synchronized with the regional combatant commanders, operations like the Soderman mission will be easier to identify and anticipate. A network enterprise with collaborative information systems will make such a coordination effort more automated and more visible. Logisticians will be able to see, anticipate, leverage, and synchronize information and make decisions accordingly. As logistics connectivity becomes routine, operations like the Soderman operation will become more methodical and less the result of chance happenings.
Currently, logistics modernization is linking many systems on the distribution side, and the Joint Forces Command is putting collaborative information in databases for joint services. As Deborah Newman, a strategic planning officer at AFSC, describes it-
It is not just a matter of moving around blocks on an organizational structure. It is taking systems that exist today and taking the seams out of those systems. And it's putting available information into collaborative information systems that provide the tools that you need to have the visibility all the way from factory to foxhole to see things, anticipate things, do the necessary coordination, and in a more automated manner than what we're doing today. But the types of things that we have accomplished with the Soderman operation are going to be done under a global logistics command. You're still going to have people, and you're still going to have coordination.
While Army logistics is in the midst of rapid transformation, AFSC continues to provide the best possible Department of Defense and interagency support.
Section 2: Military Prepositioning Observations on Army and Marine Corps Programs During Operation Iraqi Freedom and Beyond
William M. Solis, Director, Defense Management and Capabilities, United States General Accounting Office
Reprinted with permission by United States General Accounting Office. This article was originally published by the United States General Accounting Office as testimony before the Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives for delivery expected at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday, March 24, 2004.
Highlights of GAO-04-562T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives.
Why GAO Did This Study
Since the Cold War, the Department of Defense (DOD) has increased its reliance on prepositioned stocks of military equipment and supplies, primarily because it can no longer plan on having a large forward troop presence. Prepositioned stocks are stored on ships and on land in the Persian Gulf and other regions around the world. Prepositioning allows the military to respond rapidly to conflicts. Ideally, units need only to bring troops and a small amount of materiel to the conflict area. Once there, troops can draw on prepositioned equipment and supplies, and then move quickly into combat.
Today's testimony describes (1) the performance and availability of Army and Marine Corps prepositioned equipment and supplies to support Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF); (2) current status of the stocks and plans to reconstitute them; and (3) key issues facing the military as it reshapes these programs to support DOD's force transformation efforts.
GAO's observations are based on ongoing work as well as previous reports on equipment accountability, supply distribution, and other logistics issues during OIF, plus other past work on spare parts shortages and on the readiness of prepositioning programs.
What GAO Found
The importance of prepositioned stocks was dramatically illustrated during OIF. While they faced some challenges, the Army and Marine Corps relied heavily on prepositioned combat equipment and supplies to decisively defeat the Iraqi military. They both reported that prepositioned stocks were a key factor in the success of OIF. Prepositioned stocks provided most of the combat equipment used and, for the most part, this equipment was in good condition and maintained high readiness rates. However, the Army's prepositioned equipment included some older models of equipment and shortfalls in support equipment such as trucks, spare parts, and other supplies. Moreover, the warfighter did not always know what prepositioned stocks were available in theater, apparently worsening an already overwhelmed supply-and-distribution system. The units were able to overcome these challenges; fortunately, the long time available to build up forces allowed units to fill many of the shortages and adjust to unfamiliar equipment.
Much of the prepositioned equipment is still being used to support continuing operations in Iraq. It will be several years-depending on how long Iraqi Freedom operations continue-before these stocks will be available to return to prepositioning programs. And, even after they become available, much of the equipment will likely require substantial maintenance, or may be worn out beyond repair. The Army has estimated that it has an unfunded requirement of over $1 billion for reconstituting the prepositioned equipment used in OIF. However, since most prepositioned equipment is still in Southwest Asia and has not been turned back to the Army Materiel Command for reconstitution, most of the funding is not required at this time. When the prepositioned equipment is no longer needed in theater, decisions will have to be made about what equipment can be repaired by combat units, what equipment must go to depot, and what equipment must be replaced with existing or new equipment to enable the Army to reconstitute the prepositioned sets that were downloaded for OIF.
DOD faces many issues as it rebuilds its prepositioning program and makes plans for how such stocks fit into its future. In the near term, the Army and Marines must necessarily focus on supporting ongoing OIF operations. While waiting to reconstitute its program, the Army also has an opportunity to address shortfalls and modernize remaining stocks. For the longer term, DOD may need to (1) determine the role of prepositioning in light of efforts to transform the military; (2) establish sound prepositioning requirements that support joint expeditionary forces; and (3) ensure that the program is resourced commensurate with its priority and is affordable even as the force is transformed. Congress will play a key role in reviewing DOD's assessment of the cost effectiveness of various options to support its overall mission, including prepositioning and other alternatives for projecting forces quickly.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss our work on logistical issues related to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), focusing on prepositioned stocks. Since the end of the Cold War, the Department of Defense (DOD) has increased its reliance on prepositioned reserves of military equipment and supplies since it can no longer plan on having a large forward troop presence. Prepositioned stocks are stored on ships and on land in the Persian Gulf and other regions around the world. Prepositioning can speed response times. Ideally, the military needs only to bring troops and a small amount of materiel to the area of conflict. Once there, troops can draw on prepositioned equipment and supplies, and then move rapidly into combat.
My statement today reflects our preliminary observations drawn from ongoing work as well as previously published reports. As requested, my testimony today will focus on the performance, reconstitution, and future of prepositioning programs. Specifically, it describes (1) the performance and availability of Army and Marine Corps prepositioned equipment and supplies to support OIF; (2) the current status of the stocks and plans to reconstitute them; and (3) key issues facing the military as it reshapes these programs to support the military's force transformation efforts.
The importance of prepositioned stocks was dramatically illustrated during OIF. While they faced some challenges, the Army and Marine Corps relied heavily on prepositioned combat equipment and supplies to decisively defeat the Iraqi military. The following summarizes our preliminary observations and issues to consider for the future.
In responding to your request, we conducted work that included officials from Headquarters, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.; Army Field Support Command, Rock Island, Illinois; Combat Equipment Group-Afloat, Goose Creek, South Carolina; and Blount Island Command, Jacksonville, Florida. At these locations, we interviewed officials familiar with prepositioning issues during OIF as well as plans for the future. We reviewed and obtained relevant documentation and performed analyses of reconstitution and options for the future. We also reviewed after-action reports on OIF and Operation Desert Storm. We obtained service estimates for funding prepositioned stocks requirements, but we did not validate these estimates. In addition, we drew on the preliminary results of our ongoing reviews of OIF lessons learned and OIF reconstitution and on our recent reports on OIF supply and distribution issues, Stryker deployment, and Army spare parts shortages. We also relied on our 2001 report on Army war reserve spare parts shortages, 1998 report on prepositioning in the Army and the Air Force, and early 1990s reports on Operation Desert Storm.1 We performed our work in March 2004 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
The basic purpose of prepositioning is to allow DOD to field combat-ready forces in days rather than in the weeks it would take if the forces and all necessary equipment and supplies had to be brought from the United States. However, the stocks must be (1) available in sufficient quantities to meet the needs of deploying forces and (2) in good condition. For prepositioning programs, these factors define "readiness." If on-hand stocks are not what is needed-or are in poor condition-the purpose of prepositioning may be defeated because the unit will lose valuable time obtaining or repairing equipment and supplies. U.S forces had months to build up for OIF, so speed was not imperative. Prepositioning sites became reception and staging areas during the months leading up to the war, and afforded the military the necessary time and access in Kuwait to build up its forces for the later offensive operations of OIF.
Prepositioning programs grew in importance to U.S. military strategy after the end of the Cold War, particularly for the Army. Recognizing that it would have fewer forward-stationed ground forces-and to support the two-war strategy of the day-the Army used equipment made available from its drawdown to field new sets of combat equipment ashore in the Persian Gulf and in Korea. It also began an afloat program in the 1990s, using large ships to keep equipment and supplies available to support operations around the world. The Marine Corps has had a prepositioned capability since the 1980s. Its three Marine Expeditionary Forces are each assigned a squadron of ships packed with equipment and supplies-the Marines view this equipment as their "go-to-war" gear. Both the services also have retained some stocks in Europe, although the Army stocks have steadily declined since the end of the Cold War.2 Today, the Army has sites in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Italy, while the Marine Corps retains stocks in Norway. Figure 1 shows the location of Army and Marine Corps prepositioned equipment prior to OIF.
Figure 1: Location of Army and Marine Prepositioned Equipment Prior to OIF
Prepositioning is an important part of DOD's overall strategic mobility calculus. The U.S. military can deliver equipment and supplies in three ways: by air, by sea, or by prepositioning. Each part of this triad has its own advantages and disadvantages. Airlift is fast, but it is expensive to use and impractical for moving all of the material needed for a large-scale deployment. Although ships can carry large loads, they are relatively slow. Prepositioning lessens the strain on expensive airlift and reduces the reliance on relatively slow sealift deliveries. However, prepositioning requires the military to maintain equipment that essentially duplicates what the unit has at home station. Moreover, if the prepositioned equipment stocks are incomplete, the unit may have to bring along so much additional equipment that using it could still strain lift, especially scarce airlift in the early days of a conflict.
Prepositioned Equipment Performed Well in OIF, Despite Shortfalls and Other Logistical Challenges
The Army and Marine Corps reported that their prepositioned equipment performed well during OIF but that some problems emerged. We reviewed lessons-learned reports and talked to Army and Marine Corps officials who managed or used the equipment. We heard general consensus that major combat equipment was generally in good condition when drawn and that it performed well during the conflict. However, Army officials said that some equipment was out-of-date and some critical items like trucks were in short supply and parts and other supplies were sometimes not available. The officials agreed that, overall, OIF demonstrated that prepositioned stocks could successfully support major combat operations.
Most of the issues we heard were with the Army's program. Marine Corps officials reported few shortfalls in their prepositioned stocks or mismatches with unit equipment. This is likely due to two key differences between the services. First, the Marines view prepositioned stocks as their "go-to-war" gear and give the stocks a very high priority for fill and modernization. Second, the units that will use the prepositioned stocks are assigned in advance and the Marine Corps told us that the combat units feel a sense of "ownership" in the equipment. This manifests itself in important ways. For example, the Marines have periodic conferences with all involved parties to work out exactly what their ships will carry and what the units will need to bring with them to the fight. Such an effort to tailor the prepositioned equipment increases familiarity, allows for prewar planning, and thus minimizes surprises or last-minute adjustments. The Marines also train with their gear periodically. By contrast, the Army does not designate the sets for any particular unit and provides little training with the equipment, especially with the afloat stocks.
Prepositioned Combat Equipment Performed Well
Personnel who used and managed the equipment agreed that the tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and howitzers were in good condition when they were drawn from the prepositioned stocks; moreover, the equipment generally stayed operational throughout the fight. For example, the Third Infantry Division after-action report said that new systems and older systems proved to be very valuable and the tanks and Bradleys were both lethal and survivable. Additionally, according to Army Materiel Command documents, combat personnel reported that their equipment, in many cases, worked better than what they had at home station. Moreover, operational readiness data we reviewed showed that major combat equipment stayed operational, even in heavy combat across hundreds of miles. In fact, officials from both services agreed that OIF validated the prepositioning concept and showed that it can successfully support major combat operations. Moreover, the U.S. Central Command, in an internal lessons-learned effort, concluded that prepositioned stocks "proved their worth and were critical in successfully executing OIF."
Some Prepositioned Equipment Was Out-of-Date or Did Not Match Unit Needs
Some of the Army's prepositioned equipment was outdated or did not match what the units were used to at home station. At times, this required the units to "train down" to older and less-capable equipment or bring their own equipment from home. Examples include:
Army Faced Spare Parts Shortfalls and Theater Distribution Issues
Our preliminary work also identified shortfalls in available spare parts and major problems with the theater distribution system, which were influenced by shortages of trucks and material handling equipment. Prior to OIF, the Army had significant shortages in its prepositioned stocks, especially in spare parts. This is a long-standing problem. We reported in 2001 that the status of the Army's prepositioned stocks and war reserves was of strategic concern because of shortages in spare parts.4 At that time the Army had on hand about 35 percent of its stated requirements of prepositioned spare parts and had about a $1-billion shortfall in required spare parts for war reserves.
Table 1 shows the percentage of authorized parts that were available in March 2001 in the prepositioned stocks that were later used in OIF. These stocks represent a 15-day supply of spare and repair parts for brigade units (Prescribed Load List) and for the forward support battalion that backs up the brigade unit stocks (Authorized Stockage List). While the goal for these stocks was to be filled to 100 percent, according to Army officials the Army has not had sufficient funds to fill out the stocks. In March 2002, the Army staff directed that immediate measures be taken to fix the shortages and provided $25 million to support this effort. The requirements for needed spare and repair parts were to be filled to the extent possible by taking stocks from the peacetime inventory or, if unavailable there, from new procurement.
By the time the war started in March of 2003, the fill rate had been substantially improved but significant shortages remained. The warfighter still lacked critical, high-value replacement parts like engines and transmissions. These items were not available in the supply system and could not be acquired in time. Shortages in spare and repair parts have been a systemic problem in the Army over the past few years. Our recent reports on Army spares discussed this issue5 and, as previously noted, our 2001 report highlighted problems specifically with prepositioned spares. According to Army officials, the fill rates for prepositioned spare parts-especially high-value spares-were purposely kept down because of system-wide shortfalls. The Army's plan to mitigate this known risk was to have the units using the prepositioned sets to bring their own high-value spare parts in addition to obtaining spare parts from non-deploying units.
Nonetheless, according to the Third Infantry Division OIF after-action report, spare parts shortages were a problem and there were also other shortfalls. In fact, basic loads of food and water, fuel, construction materials, and ammunition were also insufficient to meet the unit sustainment requirements.
The combatant commander had built up the OIF force over a period of months, departing from doctrinal plans to have receiving units in theater to receive the stocks. When it came time to bring in the backup supplies, over 3,000 containers were download from the sustainment ships, which contained the required classes of supply-food, fuel, and spare parts, among others. The theater supply-and-distribution system became overwhelmed. The situation was worsened by the inability to track assets available in theater, which meant that the warfighter did not know what was available. The Third Infantry Division OIF after-action report noted that some items were flown in from Europe or Fort Stewart because they were not available on the local market. Taken together, all these factors contributed to a situation that one Army after-action report bluntly described as "chaos."
Our recent report on logistics activities in OIF described a theater distribution capability that was insufficient and ineffective in managing and transporting the large amount of supplies and equipment during OIF.6 For example, the distribution of supplies to forward units was delayed because adequate transportation assets, such as cargo trucks and materiel handling equipment, were not available within the theater of operations. The distribution of supplies was also delayed because cargo arriving in shipping containers and pallets had to be separated and repackaged several times for delivery to multiple units in different locations. In addition, DOD's lack of an effective process for prioritizing cargo for delivery precluded the effective use of scarce theater transportation assets. Finally, one of the major causes of distribution problems during OIF was that most Army and Marine Corps logistics personnel and equipment did not deploy to the theater until after combat troops arrived, and in fact, most Army personnel did not arrive until after major combat operations were underway.
Continuing Support of Operations Will Likely Delay Reconstitution
Forces are being rotated to relieve personnel in theater. Instead of bringing their own equipment, these troops are continuing to use prepositioned stocks. Thus, it may be several years-depending on how long the Iraqi operations continue-before these stocks can be reconstituted.
The Marine Corps used two of its three prepositioned squadrons (11 of 16 ships) to support OIF. As the Marines withdrew, they repaired some equipment in theater but sent much of it back to their maintenance facility in Blount Island, Florida. By late 2003, the Marine Corps had one of the two squadrons reconstituted through an abbreviated maintenance cycle, and sent back to sea.7 However, to support ongoing operations in Iraq, the Marine Corps sent equipment for one squadron back to Iraq, where it is expected to remain for all or most of 2004. The Marine Corps is currently performing maintenance on the second squadron of equipment that was used during OIF, and this work is scheduled to be completed in 2005.
Most of the equipment that the Army used for OIF is still in use or is being held in theater in the event it may be needed in the future. The Army used nearly all of its prepositioned ship stocks and its ashore stocks in Kuwait and Qatar, as well as drawing some stocks from Europe. In total, this included more than 10,000 pieces of rolling stock, 670,000 repair parts, 3,000 containers, and thousands of additional pieces of other equipment. According to Army officials, the Army is repairing this equipment in theater and reissuing it piece-by-piece to support ongoing operations. Thus far, the Army has reissued more than 11,000 pieces of equipment, and it envisions that it will have to issue more of its remaining equipment to support future operations. Thus, it may be 2006 or later before this equipment becomes available to be reconstituted to refill the prepositioned stocks. Officials also told us that, after having been in use for years in harsh desert conditions, much of the equipment would likely require substantial maintenance and some will be worn out beyond repair. Figure 2 shows OIF trucks needing repair.
Figure 2: Some Trucks Used in OIF that Need Repair
Both the Army and the Marine Corps have retained prepositioned stocks in the Pacific to cover a possible contingency in that region. While the Marine Corps used two of its three squadrons in OIF, it left the other squadron afloat near Guam. The Army used most of its ship stocks for OIF, but it still has a brigade set available in Korea and one combat ship is on station to support a potential conflict in Korea, although it is only partially filled. Both the Army and the Marine Corps used stocks from Europe to support OIF. The current status of the services' prepositioned sets is discussed in table 2.
Army and Marine Corps maintenance officials told us that it is difficult to reliably estimate the costs of reconstituting the equipment because so much of it is still in use. As a result, the reconstitution timeline is unclear. Based on past experience, it is reasonable to expect that the harsh desert environment in the Persian Gulf region will exact a heavy toll on the equipment. For example, we reported in 1993 that equipment returned from Operation Desert Storm was in much worse shape than expected because of exposure for lengthy periods to harsh desert conditions. The Army has estimated that the cost for reconstituting its prepositioned equipment assets is about $1.7 billion for depot maintenance, unit level maintenance, and procurement of required parts and supplies. A request for about $700 million was included in the fiscal year 2004 Global War on Terrorism supplemental budget, leaving a projected shortfall of about $1 billion. Army Materiel Command officials said they have thus far received only a small part of the amount funded in the 2004 supplemental for reconstitution of the prepositioned equipment, but they noted that not much equipment has been available. Additionally, continuing operations in Iraq have been consuming much of the Army's supplemental funding intended for reconstitution. Since much of the equipment is still in Southwest Asia, it is unclear how much reconstitution funding for its prepositioned equipment the Army can use in fiscal year 2005. But it is clear that there is a significant bill that will have to be paid for reconstitution of Army prepositioned stocks at some point in the future, if the Army intends to reconfigure the afloat and land-based prepositioned sets that have been used in OIF.
Issues Facing the Prepositioning Program
The defense department faces many issues as it rebuilds its prepositioning program and makes plans for how such stocks fit into the transformed military. In the near term, the Army and the Marine Corps must focus on supporting current operations and reconstituting their prepositioning sets. Moreover, we believe that the Army may be able to take some actions to address the shortfalls and other problems it experienced during OIF. In the long term, however, DOD faces fundamental issues as it plans the future of its prepositioning programs.
As it reconstitutes its program, the Army would likely benefit from addressing the issues brought to light during OIF, giving priority to actions that would address long-standing problems, mitigate near-term risk, and shore up readiness in key parts of its prepositioning program. These include:
Based on some contrasts in the experiences between the Army and the Marine Corps with their prepositioned equipment and supplies in OIF, some officials we spoke to agree that establishing a closer relationship between operational units and the prepositioned stocks they would be expected to use in a contingency is critical to wartime success. The Marines practice with their stocks and the Army could benefit from training on how to unload, prepare, and support prepositioned stocks, particularly afloat stocks. While the Army has had some exercises using its land-based equipment in Kuwait and Korea, it has not recently conducted a training exercise to practice unloading its afloat assets. According to Army officials, such exercises have been scheduled over the past few years, but were cancelled due to lack of funding.
The long-term issues transcend the Army and Marines, and demand a coordinated effort by the department. In our view, three main areas should guide the effort.
Mr. Chairman, I hope this information is useful to Congress as it considers DOD's plans and funding requests for reconstituting its prepositioned stocks as well as integrating prepositioning into the department's transformation of its military forces. This concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy to answer any questions that you or the Members of the Subcommittee may have.
Contacts and Acknowledgments
For questions about this statement, please contact William M. Solis at (202) 512-8365 (e-mail address: Solisw@gao.gov), Julia Denman at (202) 512-4290 (e-mail address: email@example.com), or John Pendleton at (404) 679-1816 (e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org). Additional individuals making key contributions included Nancy Benco, Robert Malpass, Tinh Nguyen, and Tanisha Stewart.
1 U.S. General Accounting Office, Defense Logistics: Preliminary Observations on the Effectiveness of Logistics Activities during Operation Iraqi Freedom, GAO-04-305R (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 18, 2003); Military Transformation: Realistic Deployment Timelines Needed for Army Stryker Brigades, GAO-03-801 (Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2003); Defense Inventory: The Army Needs a Plan to Overcome Critical Spare Parts Shortages, GAO-03-705 (Washington, D.C.: June 27, 2003); Defense Inventory: Army War Reserve Spare Parts Requirements Are Uncertain, GAO-01-425 (Washington, D.C.: May 10, 2001); Military Prepositioning: Army and Air Force Programs Need to Be Reassessed, GAO/NSIAD-99-6 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 16, 1998); Operation Desert Shield/Storm: Impact of Defense Cooperation Account Funding on Future Maintenance Budgets, GAO/NSIAD-93-179 (Washizngton, D.C.: June 10, 1993); and Operation Desert Storm: Early Performance Assessment of Bradley and Abrams, GAO/NSIAD-92-94 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 10, 1992).
9 U.S. General Accounting Office, Army Stryker Brigades: Assessment of External Logistics Support Should Be Documented for the Congressionally Mandated Review of the Army's Operational Evaluation Plan, GAO-03-484R (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 28, 2003).
Section 3: Customer Support Representative for DLA's Contingency Support Team
MAJ William T Klaus
Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2004 issue of Quartermaster Professional Bulletin.
If you don't know about the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) customer support representative (CSR) program and you're in the supply field, then you're missing out on a terrific resource for improving the flow of supplies to your unit. I found out just how important a CSR is while serving as a CSR for six months during Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
What is a CSR? A CSR is DLA's face on the ground to the warfighter. The CSRs act as ambassadors of sorts, making sure the units they support get the supplies ordered from DLA as well as other services that DLA manages. There are five CSRs in Iraq, one for each major subordinate command.
I was assigned to support the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (IMEF). I was located with IMEF's main supply base at Al Taqaddum near Fallujah and other assorted Army units in the area. As an Army officer supporting the Marines, I had to learn a whole new language. Familiar unit terms such as FSB (forward support battalion) or CSB (corps support battalion) were replaced with Marine terms such as FSSG (force service support group), CSSB (combat service support battalion) and MAW (Marine air wing). Even the maintenance reports were different. For example, an Army 026 report to the Marines is a Daily Process Report. Although I was supporting a different military service, I was still solving supply problems common to the Army. Those problems ranged from backorders, rejections, frozen stock and lost shipments, to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) initiatives and the Prime Vendor Program.
'I had passwords to 10 different automated systems while deployed'
My primary tools during my tour were a laptop computer, an Internet connection and a telephone. To effectively do my job I required access to many web-based systems, most requiring a password. Systems such as WEB Visual Logistics Information Processing System (WEBVLIPS), Web-based Customer Accounts Tracking System (WEBCATS), Global Transportation Network (GTN), Joint Total Asset Visibility (JTAV), Standard Automated Materiel Management System (SAMMS) and the Department of Defense's Internet shopping site (EMALL) are just a few of the systems I used on a daily basis. I had passwords to 10 different automated systems while deployed.
A typical work day would begin by checking and answering my E-mail, attending maintenance meetings, answering customer questions and trying to resolve any issues that came up. I would also research any document number or National Stock Number (NSN) that was a problem for the unit. If I couldn't resolve a problem on my end, I would then contact the item manager for that NSN. Some frequent problems for units were requisitions not making it through the system, finding NSNs for items, long-estimated delivery dates for some backorders, and lost or delayed shipments. Sometimes getting supplies delivered in theater took longer than getting an item from the depot in the continental United States (CONUS) to Kuwait. My biggest frustration was when a unit needed a part, there were none on hand, and the part was not being manufactured anymore. Sometimes there were substitute repair parts, but many times there weren't. This was particularly common for older pieces of equipment.
Being a CSR also meant that I worked alone. I had no staff and the work I was given was my responsibility to complete. With DLA managing more than 90 percent of all items to deployed troops, I would sometimes be very busy. I was not, however, without support. DLA also has a DLA Contingency Support Team (DCST) to support the CSRs. The team consists of a forward commander, an operations officer, multiclass commodity specialist, Class I (rations) commodity specialist, a DRMS operations officer and a Defense Energy Supply Center liaison officer. They were located at the Multi-National Force-Iraq headquarters in Baghdad. DLA also has a dedicated staff in CONUS and other overseas locations ready and willing to help. Many times I would contact the item managers or the emergency supply operations center to receive help resolving issues with repair parts and expediting requisitions. DLA maintains command and control of deployed DLA personnel. DLA personnel in theater are under tactical control of the supported command.
While in Iraq, I also maintained a close working relationship with the Army Materiel Command (AMC) which had a logistics support element at Al Taqaddum. In fact, that is where I lived. DLA arranged for AMC to provide me with living space, a vehicle and, most important, an Internet connection. Services ranged from tank and automotive, communications, fire control and armament to power and switch. AMC also had a supply logistics assistance representative who helped with supplies provided by AMC. It was a great advantage living and working in the same area, because many times we were able to help each other with supply and technical questions on equipment.
Any forward-deployed unit in Iraq that needs DLA support can check with its G4 (Logistics) or with its division materiel management center (DMMC). The G4 and DMMC probably already know of a CSR working in the deployed unit's area of operation. To get out the word at Al Taqaddum, I made business cards on plain paper. These came in handy as I met new customers and also saved me from having to write down my contact information for them.
How to Become a Customer Support Representative
If you want to become a CSR, you first must be assigned to the DLA. The DLA has 448 active duty members and 618 reservists from all branches of the military stationed all around the world. You should be in the rank of captain or major. You must be trained in two, one-week schools. One is Materiel Management Contingency Training (MMCT), and the other is Basic Contingency Operations Training (BCOT). MMCT consists of learning how to analyze logistical problems and how to interrogate automated supply information systems to identify, locate and track military supplies. BCOT training focuses on teamwork and basic combat skills. Mainly a review for military personnel, BCOT is required for two reasons: many civilians deployed overseas have not had this training previously in contingency operations, and various military services do not always teach the same skills.
Once trained as a CSR, a service member can be deployed almost anywhere. DLA has personnel in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Uzbekistan and even with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Tours of duty can last from four to six months or longer. By becoming a CSR you will gain a better understanding of the wholesale system while providing logistics support up front on the battlefield.
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012