Expeditionary Theater Opening
What is it?
Expeditionary Theater Opening (ETO) operations encompass the critical initial actions involved in the rapid insertion and expansion of force capabilities into an area of operations. ETO changes the way we do business today and into the later part of the 21st century. The capability of strategic lift to move personnel, equipment, and materiel to the theater reception points (e.g., the port of debarkation) must be matched by the capability to receive and process the force. The operational concept on which expeditionary and campaign-quality theater-opening capability is built is the capability to perform the full range of theater-opening tasks under all access conditions. These tasks include the following:
- Opening and operating ports of debarkation
- Establishing and operating the initial distribution system
- Conducting and controlling reception, staging, and onward movement activities
- Providing operational sustainment (e.g., engineers, medical personnel)
- Providing for force protection and basic life support functions for units deploying into the theater of operation
ETO operations must be performed across a full range of operational scenarios, likely including varying threat conditions and vast capability differences in theater reception infrastructure. These operations may be required either to augment those of the host nation or to create in its entirety a reception infrastructure that will support any foreseeable expansion of military force requirements.
What has the Army done?
Army G-4, Logistics, was designated as the lead in developing the concept. G-4 brought together a Joint team to analyze the shortfalls and develop alternative solutions to any existing gaps. These efforts led to the development of alternative courses of action to ensure that the best course is currently under way.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
Army G-4 is currently leading the effort to develop this concept into the required Joint doctrine and to integrate it into Joint exercises so as to provide for better asset management by combatant Commanders, the Army, and the Department of Defense. We expect to transition this concept to the Joint Forces Commander.
Why is this important to the Army?
ETO will provide much-needed improvement to Joint doctrine and related training, thereby enabling better use of assets. This will be accomplished in part by developing Rapid Port Opening menus and templates that will permit the Joint Force Commander to determine precisely the capabilities he needs for the environment in which he will be operating. Moreover, adaptation of U.S. forces to Joint doctrine and standards will be markedly improved with incorporation of ETO operations into theater-opening exercises within the Joint Training and Exercise program.
MAJ Guillermo Torres (703) 614-1066