Expeditionary Capability Considerations
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The preface of the Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World, states, "Future forces operating as part of joint teams will conduct expeditionary maneuver through rapid deployment and transition to operations." As these requirements are also captured in Multi-Doman Battle: Evolution of Combined Arms for the 21st Century, the Army G-4 office wanted to research the Army's ability to sustain expeditionary maneuver. It was suspected that other organizations had previously researched this topic but had stopped short of applying their findings to operational, design, or follow-on research efforts.

To explore this belief, the Army War College put together a research team to identify past lessons learned, assess the progress of implementing these lessons, and provide recommendations on how to effectively implement the lessons to improve the Army's overall ability to support expeditionary maneuver. Four research questions were developed to guide the research:

• How are the current Department of Defense deployment and distribution processes and systems challenged to support expeditionary maneuver in future operational environments?

• What lessons have previous studies revealed that should inform future deployment and distribution capability considerations for the Army?

• What is the status of implementing the recommendations from past studies?

• How should these recommendations be adjusted with the vision and depiction of future operations?


From 64 relevant studies on supporting expeditionary maneuver, the researchers discovered trends in lessons learned that identified challenges in deployment speed and throughput and distribution independence and interdependence. To overcome challenges, these studies recommended specific means to increase capabilities in each of these areas.

The following improvements are recommended for deployment:

• Improve installation capabilities to rapidly deploy forces.

• Conduct emergency deployment readiness exercises to increase deployment speed.

• Implement seabasing to increase access.

• Invest in vertical lift to increase access.

• Improve the availability of Army pre-positioned stocks (APS).

• Improve APS capabilities by increasing the number of Strykers, helicopters, and armored vehicles in APS or adjusting their current locations.

• Conduct training with APS.

• Reduce reception, staging, onward movement, and integration requirements.

The following improvements are recommended for distribution independence:

• Evaluate the capacity of the brigade combat team (BCT) force structure to conduct expeditionary operations.

• Invest in new technologies that reduce demand.

The following improvements are recommended for distribution interdependence:

• Establish joint logistics commands to support regional combatant commanders.

• Increase global and theater inventories.

• Develop new contracting mechanisms.

• Exploit commercial or host-nation assets.

• Expand strategic logistics partnering capacity.

Notably, there was some confusion between the terms "expeditionary" and "contingency" throughout the reviewed studies. About two-thirds of the reviewed 64 studies either addressed the characteristics of sustaining expeditionary maneuver without using the term "expeditionary," used the term "expeditionary" interchangeably with "contingency," or did not address expeditionary characteristics. These results may point to some divergence on the nature of expeditionary maneuver and operations and the view of contingencies.


To determine the status of implementing the recommendations from past studies, researchers asked the Army Materiel Command, the Army Staff, the Combined Arms Support Command, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Deployment Process Modernization Office, the Joint Staff, the Logistics Innovation Agency, and the U.S. Transportation Command this leading question: What policies, plans, execution orders, programs, or other efforts in capability development is your agency currently working on that address the Army's ability to sustain expeditionary maneuver?"

The majority of the resulting information exchange centered on the following Army efforts:

• Army Execution Order 087-17, Army Power Projection Program (AP3).

• The Army Demand Reduction Strategy.

• Army Warfighting Challenge 12, Conduct Joint Expeditionary Maneuver and Entry Operations.

• Army Warfighting Challenge 16, Set the Theater, Sustain Operations, and Maintain Freedom of Movement.

Analysis of these four efforts showed that while many of these capability considerations are addressed in current Army strategy efforts, they have not yet been implemented or resourced. Figure 1 shows the capability considerations addressed within the four efforts, most of which come from AP3. Not all capability considerations from past studies are addressed within the four efforts; these are depicted by the shaded areas of the figure.

Further, some recommended capabilities, mainly in the area of distribution interdependence, are not addressed within current major Army efforts, presenting possible areas of risk. When compared with the vision for Multi-Domain Battle, all of these past capability recommendations remain relevant. Finally, throughout past studies and current efforts, the terms expeditionary and contingency are often used interchangeably, which may contribute to difficulties in specifying the challenges and resourcing capabilities and ultimately implementing the lessons learned.


From these findings, the following recommendations were developed to highlight priorities, address areas of risk, and overcome challenges to implementing lessons learned in supporting expeditionary maneuver.

1. Prioritize capability considerations with high payoff potential. Recommended priorities to advance the Army's capability to support expeditionary maneuver are investments in new technology, sea-basing, accessible APS, and a revision of the BCT force structure. The research team also recommends that past considerations about distribution independence and interdependence capabilities be revaluated, as they are largely unaddressed in current efforts.

2. Employ a cross-community and cross-functional approach to resource the high payoff capabilities. As current efforts focused on supporting expeditionary maneuver are traced to operational and design headquarters, it may be most effective to adopt a cross-community approach to advance the recommended high payoff capabilities.

It is possible the four efforts may compete for resourcing. While AP3 traces to the Army Staff and is largely focused on the operational community, the warfighting challenges and the Demand Reduction Strategy involve the design community and trace to the Training and Doctrine Command.

Additionally, it may be more effective to use a cross-functional approach that advances capability packages that best support Multi-Domain Battle outcomes as opposed to capabilities in isolation. Aligning the research community with the overall efforts to advance capabilities may contribute to successful implementation.

An example of a cross-functional approach is a sealift emergency deployment readiness exercise involving new technology, sea-basing, and APS. During such exercises, a BCT deploys to a sea base, falls in on combat-configured APS, and uses the sea base as an intermediate staging base. Through vertical lift and other capabilities, the BCT completes its final phase of reception, staging, onward movement, and integration.

Within this example, a cross-community approach would entail the operational and design communities constructing and resourcing the exercise. The research community would analyze the exercise's measures of effectiveness in supporting expeditionary maneuver.

Furthermore, while this example involves an exercise construct, it is recommended that sustainment leaders find ways throughout the governance processes of the various efforts to communicate laterally, share progress, and maintain unity of effort toward implementing past lessons learned to support expeditionary maneuver.

3. Adopt a more specific framework of the expeditionary operational environment. Confusion in terms may contribute to difficulty in translating the value of initiatives. As found in the study review, throughout the four efforts, the terms expeditionary and contingency are often used interchangeably. This confusion may contribute to difficulty in achieving unity of effort and implementing past findings. Clarifying the challenges and outcomes associated with supporting expeditionary maneuver may improve the effectiveness of implementing past lessons learned.

An operational framework could focus the problem and be used to evaluate the relevance of capability considerations. Putting outcomes into operational terms, such as "mitigate the vulnerabilities of the expeditionary environment," and "minimize its duration," may also reinforce the importance of sustainment capabilities.

Regarding the implementation of past lessons learned about supporting expeditionary maneuver, this research finds that past lessons learned focus on distribution and deployment challenges of speed, throughput, independence, and interdependence and recommendations to increase capabilities in each of these areas.

In terms of implementation, many of these considerations are addressed in current strategies but have not yet been resourced. Differences among Army operational, design, and research organizations, along with possible divergence in expeditionary terminology, may adversely affect implementation as well.

From these insights, in order to effectively implement past lessons learned on expeditionary maneuver, it is recommended that the Army Staff, the Training and Doctrine Command, and the research community use a cross-community, cross-functional approach to prioritize combining areas of new technology, sea-basing, and accessible APS. They should reevaluate capabilities that contribute to distribution interdependence and adopt a framework of the expeditionary operational environment that clarifies challenges and the value of capability considerations.


Matthew Shatzkin is a retired Army colonel and has been an Army logistics practitioner for 27 years. He has a doctorate degree in transportation and logistics from North Dakota State University. He is the author of the book "Understanding the Complexity of Emergency Supply Chains."

Col. Bobby W. Bryant is an Army War College Fellow. He has a bachelor's degree in molecular biology from Louisiana Tech University, a master's degree in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a master's degree in military operational art and science from the Air Command and Staff College.

Col. Fred Maddox is an Army War College graduate. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, a master's degree in counseling and leader development from Long Island University, and the NATO Movement and Logistics Operational Planning Course.


This article is an Army Sustainment product.

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