KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, Kuwait -- U.S. Army Central Command's top logistics officer visited the Army Prepositioned Stocks-5 watercraft set here, Aug. 3, to get a closer look at what the unique equipment set can offer the CENTCOM area of responsibility.
Army Maj. Gen. Edward Dorman, J-4 (logistics), CENTCOM, toured APS-5 facilities at Kuwait Naval Base and spoke with logisticians from several sustainment organizations about how the watercraft set can support mission requirements throughout the CENTCOM footprint.
"Army watercraft systems are a critical component of the theater set," Dorman said. "They function as a combat multiplier in support of the theater Army or the joint task force commander who is always faced with getting the right mix of combat power to the decisive point or position of relative advantage to an opponent, thus allowing the commander to set the terms of battle."
While the Army deals with force reduction and fiscal restraints, the global operational environment simultaneously grows increasingly complex, culminating in a set of challenges that require flexibility, Dorman said.
"The capability we have here is truly a strategic advantage," he said. "This entire watercraft set and all the mariners that man them form a massive logistics capability, not just in CENTCOM, but globally."
Dorman received short briefings from watercraft experts and APS-5 technicians before boarding the Large Tug U.S. Army Vessel Col. Seth Warner for a discussion with logistics planners about how to leverage the unique capabilities Army watercraft provide.
"As a former mariner I have a great love for what these watercraft can do," Dorman said. "These capabilities help set the theater and help expand operational reach, which translates into a flexible and well sustained force."
The APS-5 watercraft set accounts for 25 percent of the Army's total watercraft and is broken down into four companies; a Heavy Boat Company, Medium Boat Company, Floating Craft Company, and a Modular Causeway Company.
More than 90 percent of the world's ports and 70 percent of its beaches are accessible by Army watercraft.
"We have a great capability for the combatant commander right here in Kuwait," said Lt. Col. Tim Haylett, commander, 401st Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait.
"It provides flexibility, and it brings about that third dimension of logistics," Haylett said. "So not only do we have the air and land, but now we are giving the combatant commander that third dimension which is logistics over the shore operations."
There are 32 vessels in the APS-5 watercraft set, along with a 115-ton Barge Derrick crane, floating Causeway, Causeway ferry, and a roll-on/roll-off discharge facility.
The APS-5 includes an additional 633 Modular Causeway System pieces. The Modular Causeway Systems float on the water like mobile docks or bridges, giving military forces the ability to roll large items directly from the vessel to shore.
One of the most important capabilities the vessels offer is their ability to move Class-5 (ammunition) and Class-7 (tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, track vehicles), which are extremely heavy classes of equipment, said Haylett.
"Primarily those watercraft would be used to move combat power into the fight or provide support," Haylett said. "We can move massive amounts of equipment. We can move all classes of supply -- M88s (Armored Recovery Vehicle), M113s (Armored Personnel Carrier), track vehicles, engineering equipment -- to move all that stuff forward on a vessel like that is very effective for an operation."
Army watercraft have been utilized in a variety of capacities throughout modern military history.
They were used to move combat power into theater in Korea during the Korean War, and again into Southwest Asia during Desert Storm and Desert Shield in 1990 and 1991.
More recently, Army watercraft were employed in two separate fronts during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom to bring ashore ammunition and U.S. Marine Corps equipment.
The vessels were also used in humanitarian assistance efforts following the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti.
Additionally, many of the gulf states have navy forces that can work and train alongside Army mariners to strengthen partner nation relationships.
"Army watercraft systems and our exceptionally experienced and talented Army mariners contribute to building and enhancing partner nation capacity," Dorman said.
As the 401st Army Field Support Brigade and its four strategically located battalions continue to provide logistics support to the joint warfighter, the watercraft set offers a unique network capability for joint service operations.
"We'd normally use these in joint operations," Haylett said. "When we talk about joint logistics over the shore we are normally bringing in our Navy and Marine Corps brethren to help out with these operations. So whether the Army is leading the way, or working in tandem with our counterparts in the other services, these watercraft bring massive combat power to the fight anywhere in the world. It's a key capability that helps us win in a complex world."
The 401st AFSBn-Kuwait owns and operates the entirety of APS-5, which in addition to the watercraft set includes an Armored Brigade Combat Team set, Infantry Brigade Combat Team set, and a Sustainment Brigade set, totaling about $5.5 billion worth of equipment.