By Maj. Orna Bradley, AFSBn-StewartJanuary 26, 2017
FORT STEWART, Ga. -- During the Warfighter Exercise 17-01 executed Oct. 4-13, 2016, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, the Army Field Support Battalion-Stewart validated its capability to conduct forward employed Mission Command and demonstrated its ability to operationalize the battalion's support operations.
With the mission to deliver enterprise sustainment solutions by synchronizing and integrating Acquisition, Logistics and Technology support while building and sustaining readiness at the tactical and operational levels, the WFX provided AFSBn-Stewart a realistic, scenario-driven opportunity to assess unchartered concepts. It also allowed AFSBn-Stewart to embody the Army Material Command's vision of the future Force 2025 and beyond.
Commanded by Lt. Col. Anthony Walters, AFSBn-Stewart accomplished this objective by fully integrating into the 3rd Infantry Division's WFX while simultaneously providing real-world ALT support to active, Reserve and Army National Guard formations dispersed across six states.
ASFBn-Stewart prepared for the eleven-day exercise over a ten-month period. Through individual and collective training, Tactical Operation Center validations, and field integration with different 3ID brigade elements, AFSBn-Stewart improved its expeditionary capability.
To demonstrate an integrated expeditionary effort, AFSBn-Stewart dispatched one of its Brigade Logistics Support Team chiefs to participate in the 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command's Military Decision Making Process exercise in Birmingham, Alabama. The relationships developed during the MDMP exercise laid the groundwork for the BLST chief to embed as the liaison officer to the 135th ESC's headquarters Tactical Command Post during the WFX. AFSBn-Stewart also embedded the battalion executive officer into the division's G4 (Logistics) planning efforts as a precursor to serving as the AFSBn LNO to the 3ID TAC.
Through numerous MDMP sessions and participation in Sustainment Rehearsal of Concepts drills, the AFSBn refined concepts of support that would later shape the perspective of tactical commanders, resulting in the ability to posture AMC to deliver capabilities before there are readiness issues.
During WFX 17-01, AFSBn-Stewart established its TOC at the Divisional Support Area, co-located with 3rd Sustainment Brigade. With a mostly civilian work force, and using equipment obtained from the U.S. Army Sustainment Command and deactivating units, the AFSBn's TOC achieved full operational capability in two hours. This location proved advantageous to the 3rd Sustainment Brigade because it placed AMC capabilities within reach during Decisive Action Operations when the 3ID prepared to seize the initiative.
Throughout the exercise, the AFSBn's Support Operations section was relied upon to provide critical updates regarding the availability of Army Prepositioned Stocks, Army Theater Sustainment Stocks, ALT call-forward support, and field repair activity operations. Similarly, the AFSBn developed multiple concepts of support addressing TSS and Logistics Support Element concepts of support.
When operational conditions required greater synergy to ensure combat power was delivered to the warfighter, the 3rd Sustainment Brigade and AFSBn-Stewart co-located their materiel readiness operations. By creating a true "readiness fusion center," the AFSBn could fully bring to bear the synergistic effects of the organization by bridging gaps within the flow of readiness information.
"The division G4 clearly relied upon the AFSBn for resolution of downed / damaged equipment issues, and the availability of Theater Sustainment Stocks," noted Lt. Col. Brian McNulty, a Logistics Management Officer from headquarters, AMC, G3/4. "The Sustainment Brigade integrated its maintenance team into the AFSBn TOC to enable a combined effort on maintenance slants and solutions.
"This paid big dividends during Phase II and Phase III," McNulty added; "brigade combat teams were pleased to receive BLST assistance when needed. All of these interactions were, to a large measure, the result of locating the AFSBn in the DSA."
At the end of WFX 17-01, it became apparent that the integration of AFSBn-Stewart directly into the operational decision cycle delivered readiness effects to maneuver units. Maneuver units participating in the WFX were well-versed in the AMC's capabilities and leveraged these capabilities to ensure operational readiness. Additionally, AFSBn-Stewart was able to identify internal requirements needed to support a maneuvering unit engaged in decisive action operations.
WFX 17-01 demonstrated that an AFSBn, with proper linkages back to the AMC industrial base, can be a readiness multiplier during decisive action.
As the Army continues its transition to an expeditionary force with limited resources, the AFSBn must innovate and adapt to ensure that AMC's strategic enterprise is linked to the warfighter and enables maneuvering units arrayed across the battlefield. The Army lacks doctrine that employs the AFSBn in the future operating environment, untethered from U.S.-based locations or forward-based operations. Throughout WFX 17-01, AFSBn-Stewart tested theories and developed a constructive concept that supported the 3rd Infantry Division.
As the Army moves forward to develop the forces of 2025, the time to forge the AFSBn of the future is now, so that the strategic sustainment enterprise will continue to deliver readiness enablers to the warfighter. The timeliness of a reorganization is clearly crucial in today's complex, ambiguous, and unpredictable environment, where near-peer and adaptable adversaries are ever present. Regardless of change, AMC will continue to "develop and deliver Global readiness solution to sustain Unified Land Operations, anytime, anywhere."