By Brig. Gen. Michelle M. T. LetcherApril 1, 2019
The Joint Munitions Command (JMC) operationalizes to support the Chief of Staff of the Army's priorities and combatant commander requirements to deliver global munitions requirements and ensure warfighter readiness. Every bullet, bomb, and grenade that Soldiers use in training or combat is managed by JMC. This command oversees the life cycle, including production, distribution, storage, and demilitarization, of all conventional ammunition for the entire Department of Defense.
JMC ammunition plants produce more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition annually. The command is accountable for more than $30 billion of munitions and missiles. While government-owned entities managed by JMC produce 30 percent of conventional ammunition, the remaining 70 percent is produced commercially. JMC oversees those commercial providers as well.
This article examines how the shift to Sustainable Readiness impacts ammunition forecasting, distribution, and the wholesale-to-tactical concept. These topics affect when and how we get ammunition to warfighting units.
JMC's organic industrial base (OIB) is a key source of critical capabilities that provide readiness for current and emerging threats. The munitions OIB, which consists of 14 subordinate arsenals, depots, and ammunition plants, provides unique capabilities not always found in the private sector. These capabilities enable JMC to rapidly meet the requirements of the Army's Sustainable Readiness Model (SRM) priorities. The OIB provides JMC the ability to surge as needed to provide munitions to the warfighter.
One key purpose of the SRM is to generate consistent readiness for the Army, and JMC uses it to better support the warfighter. JMC strives to support everything from basic training to global battlefield dominance. To achieve this, unit leaders must ensure accurate forecasting and requirements for both training and combat munitions.
One of JMC's core competencies is the distribution of ammunition to ensure it is at the right place at the right time as required by the joint force. JMC continuously monitors combatant commander requirements and ammunition consumption rates to ensure strategic readiness.
Increased demand for training and operational ammunition means that it is very important for units to correctly forecast to meet upcoming requirements. Throughout the fiscal year, JMC takes part in several working groups that forecast, plan, and fund ammunition needs and deliver them to the point of use.
Assisting units with improving forecasting readiness are the Army Materiel Command's 101 training and information exchange events sponsored by the Forces Command. A unit's forecast is its demand on the system to ship ammunition to the right location to support its requirement. Overstated forecasts may cause misdistribution of ammunition assets. This might cause second- and third-order effects, creating shortages at other locations or incurring additional costs for redistributing ammunition across installations.
"When developing ammunition requirements and forecasts, it is recommended to review historical usage on ammunition items," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Pennie Temmerman, JMC's military deputy to the Munitions and Logistics Readiness Center. "Taking into consideration those historical expenditures helps inform future requirements for training plans and forecasts."
One focus area of JMC's SRM efforts is requirements synchronization and forecasting. By developing these requirements, JMC anticipates distribution demand based on projected unit training and planned operations. This means that accurate forecasting from tactical units will result in increased effectiveness and unit readiness.
Recent trends are consistent with the SRM, which aims to ensure our forces have the capability and flexibility to conduct the full range of military operations. Nathan Hawley, director of JMC's Munitions and Logistics Readiness Center, said that the organization is closely monitoring these trends to ensure that munitions are ready for future requirements.
From a tactical perspective, JMC's ammunition plants, depots, and arsenals are analogous to a very large ammunition supply point (ASP). For example, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Oklahoma, which is comparable in size to Washington, D.C., has more than 2,200 ammunition warehouses. An ASP is generally smaller at approximately 20 to 40 warehouses. JMC's installations have considerable and varied stock that we continuously strive to manage, store, and distribute more efficiently.
Ongoing worldwide engagements place large ammunition requirements on the OIB. JMC performs primary requirements analyses and tracks requirements for all combatant commands worldwide. Supply planning gives senior leaders the big picture of how the conventional ammunition stockpile compares to future requirements.
In addition to improving readiness at the joint level, JMC works with tactical units to improve ammunition logistics efficiencies. Recently, in an effort to increase unit readiness, JMC coordinated a wholesale-to-tactical delivery exercise to distribute ammunition from a depot directly to a brigade combat team on a range in a factory-to-foxhole scenario.
"Throughput distribution better supports readiness and training in support of large-scale ground combat operations," said Temmerman.
Normally, the JMC Materiel Management Operations Directorate provides munitions to the ASP based on unit forecasts, and then the ASP issues munitions to the unit. However, during this exercise, JMC directly delivered assets from Crane Army Ammunition Activity, in Indiana, to the ammunition transfer and holding point (ATHP) in the field and completely bypassed the ASP.
The ammunition Soldiers in the field need training opportunities to achieve readiness to support combat operations. When JMC enables these types of events, Soldiers achieve those tasks and have a better understanding of ammunition doctrine before they deploy to an operational environment.
This wholesale-to-tactical exercise involved the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade and the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, which conducted brigade combat team gunnery exercises at Fort Riley, Kansas. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Jones, the ATHP accountable officer said that the ATHP section of the 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, used the pilot program to conduct an immediate resupply of an attack reconnaissance battalion.
"We managed ammunition through the Standard Army Ammunition System (SAAS) and directly shipped ammunition back to the Fort Riley ASP during Phase I," said Jones.
During Phase II the ATHP team received the shipment from Crane, managed it through SAAS, issued it to the battalion, and then shipped unused ammunition back to the ammunition activity.
"We have trained 12 Soldiers on all of their METL [mission essential task list] tasks and [they] are now more prepared and tactically and technically proficient," added Jones.
Wholesale-to-tactical delivery results in increased Soldier and unit readiness. It allows the ATHP to exercise near-contingency munitions operations and more closely follow doctrine by exercising throughput distribution to better support decisive action in large-scale combat operations.
This resupply concept enhances the unit's readiness by training ATHP staff on the METL tasks of providing ammunition support to units assigned to their brigade. Some of these METL tasks include the following:
• Manage ammunition stocks.
• Plan platoon ammunition support operations.
• Handle munitions.
• Issue ammunition.
• Conduct ammunition inventories.
• Conduct ammunition sling-load operations.
Through all aspects of ammunition operations, the quality assurance specialist (ammunition surveillance) (QASAS) personnel and logistics assistance representatives (LARs) are available to support unit munitions readiness requirements. QASAS personnel conduct inspections to assess serviceability and deterioration of munitions. QASAS personnel and LARs provide important information to warfighting units regarding proper use and turn-in of ammunition.
For example, some ammunition, such as 5.56-millimeter rounds, is rather labor intensive to turn in once it has been opened and unpackaged. Additionally, the lot number for loose small-arms ammunition may be unknown, which will restrict its use or even make it unserviceable. QASAS personnel and LARs can advise Soldiers on the most efficient use and management of ammunition in order to prevent waste and improve readiness.
Through these efforts, JMC is postured to supply and surge to provide munitions lethality and readiness to the joint warfighter in all operations, from deterrence through the end of combat operations. Through JMC's priorities and lines of effort, its plan will continuously evolve to ensure strategic global munitions readiness.
Brig. Gen. Michelle M. T. Letcher serves as the commanding general of the JMC. She holds a bachelor's degree in social work from Illinois State University, a master's degree in human services and counseling from the State University of New York, a master's degree in advanced military studies from the Command and General Staff College, and a master's degree in national security and strategic studies from Kansas State University. She is a graduate of the Air Defense Artillery Basic Course, Ordnance Basic Munitions Management Course, Combined Logistics Advanced Course, Command and General Staff Officer Course, the School of Advanced Military Studies, and the Senior Service College Fellowship.
This article was published in the April-June 2019 issue of Army Sustainment.