Army pre-positioned stocks (APS) are vital components of total Army readiness. They provide speed of response for geographic combatant commanders to execute operation plans (OPLANs) and conduct contingency operations worldwide.
WHY THE ARMY USES APS
The pre-positioning of stocks throughout the world provides the Army with the ability to rapidly equip forces and provide support until air and sea lines of communication can be established. Pre-positioned stocks are located at or near the points of planned use, reducing the initial strategic lift required for power projection to enable the fight until the theater matures. Using APS is essential to creating tactical and technical overmatch in a geographic combatant command area of responsibility and to countering immediate threats.
Key to fighting and winning the nation's wars is the ability to respond quickly to meet combatant commanders' objectives. This means maintaining responsive APS capabilities to deter and defeat current and future complex threats in the battlespace in any operational environment. APS are critical to quickly employing overwhelming combat capabilities anywhere in the world. U.S. land forces must have the ability to act even when no permanent U.S. presence or infrastructure is available. This is the purpose of the APS program.
TYPES OF APS
APS comprise five land- and sea-based categories: unit sets, operational project stocks, sustainment stocks, War Reserve Stocks for Allies, and activity sets.
Unit sets are equipment positioned ashore and afloat worldwide to reduce deployment response times and support the Army's force projection strategy.
Operational project stocks are designed to support Army operations, plans, and contingencies. They consist of materiel tailored to strategic capabilities essential to the Army's force projection strategy. Army war reserve sustainment stocks are major end items and war reserve secondary items pre-positioned in or near a potential theater of operations. They are used to sustain operations by replacing supplies consumed or lost in combat until wartime production and supply lines can be established.
Sustainment stocks provide the minimum essential support to combat operations and postmobilization training beyond the capabilities of peacetime stocks, industrial production, and host-nation support.
The War Reserve Stocks for Allies program is directed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to pre-position stocks that assist U.S. allies in case of war. These stocks are released to Army component commanders for transfer to the supported allied force under provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act and under existing nation-to-nation agreements.
Activity sets are used to equip Army forces deploying outside the continental United States to conduct training and exercises, including joint and bilateral operations.
The concept of the APS activity set was introduced in 2014 and continues to evolve. Activity sets are currently being used in Europe to support concepts of adaptive planning and theater campaign plans. Future activity sets will be built to support the U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and U.S. Southern Command.
The Army Materiel Command (AMC) is the Army executive agent for the APS program. In this role, AMC is responsible for APS program management, equipment modernization planning, and current operations, excluding class VIII (medical materiel) support. AMC also orchestrates the development of standards and procedures for the transfer of APS materiel to deploying combat units.
The Army Sustainment Command executes the APS mission for AMC through its Army field support brigades with critical assistance from AMC's life cycle management commands, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, and the Army Contracting Command. AMC ensures the readiness of APS support to the global combatant commanders at the tactical points of need.
APS STRATEGY CHANGES
While the purpose of APS remains unchanged, the APS program is evolving as it plays a more essential role in response to the changing operational environment. Continued high demand on the total Army force, budget constraints, and changes to planning doctrine have resulted in a growing requirement for the use of APS.
The Army is currently developing the APS 2025 Strategy for implementation this year. This future APS strategy is aligned with current Army strategic guidance and designed for defeating current and future threats. Pre-positioned stocks will be organized and maintained to support shaping operations and contingency plans. The revised APS strategy supports the Army Power Projection Program. It is clearly defined, synchronized with Army initiatives, and flexible in response to changing requirements. APS will contribute to assurance and deterrence while supporting global responsiveness.
WHAT THIS MEANS
What does the transition to the APS 2025 Strategy mean to the Army? The primary focus of the future APS strategy will be shaping APS into ready-to-fight configurations with increased speed of issue and readiness to support changing and evolving global priorities.
APS-2, located in Europe, are high-priority, and new APS-2 unit sets are currently being built. APS will be postured to reduce force closure times throughout Europe and to support U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command OPLAN requirements.
The APS 2025 Strategy will serve as the updated road map for fielding and sustaining APS and will provide guidelines for integrating APS in theater campaign plans. This new strategy also presents a foundation for a continuous assessment and a decision cycle for adjustments of pre-positioned stocks.
Transitioning to a more operationalized APS program will give Soldiers critical enabling technologies that provide decisive overmatch to shoot, move, communicate, command, control, and protect. Modernization efforts are key to achieving the new paradigm.
Modernization is more than simply updating equipment in the APS fleets. Speed of response is achieved through a multifaceted approach, which includes enhanced facilities allowing for the storage of sets in a highly enabled and preconfigured state to reduce equipment issue time.
The ultimate goal is to store and issue equipment in a ready-to-fight configuration with command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance enablers to allow for a quick response to any OPLAN or contingency requirement.
The Army is currently planning for significant changes and improvements to the APS infrastructure and the labor categories required to maintain these technologies and enablers. The goal is to configure, store, sustain, and issue to optimize relevance and provide flexibility for combatant commanders.
As seen in Europe and around the world, APS are critical enablers supporting the geographic combatant commanders' OPLANs and contingency operations. As the Army implements the new APS 2025 Strategy, it will set the conditions to continue to equip, sustain, and station APS equipment at multiple locations worldwide. Through APS, AMC ensures that deploying units have what they need to defeat any threat.
Jacqueline Georlett is the team leader for APS Afloat at the Army Sustainment Command at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. She holds a master's degree from St. Ambrose University and a bachelor's degree from Illinois State University. She is a member of the Army acquisition workforce and is level III certified in information technology.
Bruce Daasch is the chief of the Land Based APS Division at the Army Sustainment Command. He holds a bachelor's degree in marketing from Augustana College and an MBA from St. Ambrose University. He is level III certified in life cycle logistics and level II certified in facilities management. He is part of the Army acquisition workforce and a former Navy submariner.
This article was published in the May-June 2017 issue of Army Sustainment magazine.