By Lt. Gen. Aundre F. PiggeeMarch 1, 2018
This year marks the centennial of the reorganization of the Army general staff in 1918, which created the Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, the precursor of the Army G-4 office. Maj. Gen. George Washington Goethals, best known for building the Panama Canal, was appointed as the director of this new division. He then led the effort to mobilize, outfit, equip, and sustain our forces during World War I.
This was a major undertaking because the Army was not organizationally ready for this new kind of warfare: a wide-scale expeditionary overseas conflict with an Army that was technologically advanced for its time. The millions of Soldiers involved created unprecedented logistics demands to quickly move manpower, equipment, and materiel where they were needed. Weapons, ammunition, and other supplies had to be transported to new training camps and moved by railroad to East Coast ports for shipment from the United States to Allied forces fighting in Europe.
Before Goethal's appointment, individual bureaus had acted independently, often competing with one another in the market and creating chaos and gridlock when war broke out. Goethal consolidated supply operations, secured centralized storage and transportation, and helped organize logistics to put an end to the paralysis of projecting the force.
AN ONGOING CHALLENGE
It is no surprise that, 100 years later, we remain focused on how best to project the force quickly. We are an Army trying to maximize readiness while facing many of the same challenges our predecessors did. We are still a mostly United States-based force with multiple adversaries around the globe, and we are again on the cusp of a technological revolution.
Of course, there are differences as well. On the upside, our teams are better organized and synchronized through advanced communication capabilities and new enterprise-level logistics information systems. There are many players involved in force projection, including logistics readiness centers that provide critical links to the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and other deployment enablers. Our force also now has mobility warrant officers whose duties are to coordinate and ensure deployment readiness before the unit receives orders to move.
The downside is that we were once separated from our enemies by oceans that provided us with the protection of both time and space. Today's adversaries can reach out virtually and attempt to shut down our information systems before we move a tank out of home station. They can steal our data or corrupt it. Regional actors can close an airfield with a single missile or close a port by conducting sabotage in rear areas.
As we discussed in the last issue of Army Sustainment, near-peer competitors have multiple ways to attack and deny our ability to project our forces. This is the new Multi-Domain Battle environment that we are challenged to deploy to and fight in today. Our potential adversaries are more capable than ever. The 100-year-old question is this: Are you ready to move when the time comes?
ENABLING FORCE PROJECTION
At the Army level, we are taking many positive steps to fully enable force projection. We are ensuring we have adequate munitions and that we are prepared to receive, store, and issue them. We are continuing to expand, in both Europe and Korea, our Army pre-positioned stocks, which are essential to our ability to equip early-entry forces and provide assurance to our allies.
We are working to modernize our rail assets. Today we have 560 rail cars capable of moving our heaviest combat vehicles; in the long term, we will invest in replacements for our aging cars and ensure they can handle the heavier weight of our current equipment. We are also working to reduce the weight of future combat systems.
We are also trying to modernize Army watercraft, a key force projection capability in operational environments with restricted access to fixed ports. Some vessels have outlived their life expectancy, and we are investing to renew this capability.
We have standardized and updated deployable brigades' mission-essential task lists in order to include deployment tasks. We have sourced and funded emergency deployment readiness exercises, allowing the Army to select and test unit training deployments on short notice to help build expeditionary deployment skills in the force. We have also updated doctrine, including Army Regulation 525-93, Army Deployment and Redeployment.
We have recently used the opportunities presented by the Army's regionally aligned forces initiative to move units to test our deployment processes and force projection capabilities. Over multiple rotations, we saw faster and smoother deployments into the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, thanks to the sharing and application of lessons learned. Sharing lessons learned is a critical step in improving our overall force projection readiness.
Being able to shoot, move, and communicate is the foundation of tactical combat tasks, and it also applies to our organizations. We must focus on ensuring we have the basics right. We must rebuild the skills, experience, and muscle memory that have atrophied during nearly two decades of a highly resourced "push" deployment process under the Army Force Generation model. Under this model, units often became reliant on others to do many deployment activities for them.
In the next conflict, under the Sustainable Readiness Model, we can anticipate being required to perform more rapid deployment-related tasks on our own. So, to be ready to deploy when the order comes, both commanders and Soldiers should focus on these basics:
• Have the necessary chains and tie-downs to secure vehicles for movement, including all the twist-lock knuckles to connect Tricon and Quadcon shipping containers.
• Secure the requisite bracing, blocking, packaging, crating, and tie-downs to correctly pack gear during load-out.
• Routinely review and maintain the unit equipment list.
• Certify and train a sufficient number of hazardous materials and load team personnel; focus on those additional duties that are critical to safely deploying the unit and ensure they are resourced.
• Check the results of the last unit command deployment discipline program evaluation as laid out in Army Regulation 525-93.
• Focus on the maintenance status of equipment to ensure it is maintained to technical manual 10/20 standards. If a vehicle will not start, you will not be able to call AAA for help getting from home station to the port of embarkation in the middle of the night.
This is just the start of the many tasks that are imperative to ensuring deployment readiness. This issue's hip-pocket guide is a handy leaders' checklist for what you need to do to move your equipment from fort to port. Keep it in your pocket.
Know your responsibilities and train your Soldiers to the highest standards under realistic conditions. If they can perform required tasks for the hardest missions under the most difficult circumstances, they can certainly do the tasks required to complete easier jobs as well. With time being our most limited resource, using multi-echelon training means employing a team approach, which is critical to enhancing and maximizing training readiness.
There is another important lesson we can learn from our history. In 1919, the Army sent a convoy from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco to test our truck transport systems and prove the superior utility of the motor vehicle. It took them 62 days!
One of the convoy members was Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Years later, during World War II when he crossed the German border, Gen. Eisenhower saw the ease of mobility on German highways. These experiences later inspired him, as president, to launch our great interstate and defense highway system that Americans drive on today.
In the hallway outside of my Pentagon office hangs a quote by Gen. Eisenhower. It reads, "You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics."
As an Army focused on mission readiness and anticipating the next order to deploy, we must be innovative, be inspired, and above all, be ready. Be proud that you are part of a great team. Working together across the Army helps us to grow closer to achieving our overall readiness goals every day.
Lt. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee is the Army deputy chief of staff, G-4. He oversees policies and procedures used by all Army logisticians throughout the world.
This article was published in the March-April 2018 issue of Army Sustainment magazine.