By Maj. Mark A. YoreApril 1, 2019
As the Army focuses its training on high-intensity multi-domain combat using multiple command posts, it is imperative to examine how best to employ a division's transportation movement control experts. The 25th Infantry Division (ID) recently conducted multiple command post exercises (CPXs) to test the use of multiple command posts while conducting high-intensity Multi-Domain Operations.
During Warfighter Exercise 19-01, the 25th ID was part of I Corps' operation, fighting a near-peer enemy on a linear battlefield. The division transportation office (DTO) was challenged to leverage its capabilities at each command post in order to synchronize movements and ensure continuous sustainment. This enabled the division to dictate the tempo of the fight. This article shares observations and lessons learned about employing the DTO across multiple command posts. Sharing lessons learned and refining how the DTO operates is necessary as the Army continues to update doctrine and fight full-spectrum operations.
When evaluating the capabilities required for the DTO in a high-intensity fight, separating the responsibilities of the forward and rear areas is very instructive. Essentially, we need to ask how the DTO can most effectively shape the fight from each command post.
The 25th ID has had the opportunity to conduct multiple CPXs and test the employment of the DTO. When deciding where each vital member of the DTO and elements of a movement control team (MCT) will operate, the 25th ID G-4 team first looked at what the required capabilities were for the division main command post, support area command post (SACP), division tactical command post (TAC), and support area TAC.
The 25th ID conducted detailed mission analysis in order to effectively spread capabilities across the battlefield.
Two important distinctions were made during this analysis. First, the DTO matched capabilities to requirements.
Second, when the G-4 decided where the capabilities would reside, it was clear that the DTO was an office, not an individual. The question should not be, "Where is the division transportation officer in the fight?" Instead the question should be, "What transportation capabilities are required in each command post?"
TESTING THE DESIGN
The DTO was able to spread its capabilities throughout the command posts, successfully synchronize movements, and provide creative solutions to movement dilemmas. Most of the capabilities were maintained in the SACP where the division transportation officer, sergeant major, senior mobility noncommissioned officer, and elements of the movement control team ran 24-hour operations.
The division transportation officer served as the G-4 and transportation representative for the support area TAC when required.
The deputy division transportation officer provided redundant movement control in the division main command post. The deputy relayed information from the SACP, provided current operations updates to the SACP, and served as the transportation representative for the division TAC when required.
Placing movement control capabilities in the division TAC was a deliberate decision to provide oversight of the MCT used for wet-gap crossings. Both the division transportation officer and his deputy were used when both TACs were employed, and the officers maintained the ability to track and synchronize movements.
The success of the DTO during the exercise depended on understanding the overall purpose of each command post and the scheme of maneuver. This understanding was gained through mission analysis, which enabled the DTO to determine transportation requirements. Additionally, having the right team members in the DTO provided the versatility required.
The DTO's key to success was the evolution of its movement boards. The division movement board began as a transportation working group that shared and verified information.
Over several iterations and after ensuring all of the right warfighting functions were included in the meeting, decisions on road statuses and sequencing movements were made based on the priority of movement and support.
I Corps' movement board provided clarity on the expeditionary sustainment command's movements across the battlefield. That ensured synchronized movements and mitigated congestion and potential fratricide.
The meeting was focused on the information and not the duration in order to have the desired outputs. As the list of participants grew, the forum remained focused on the outputs.
Focusing on outputs enabled the board to reduce the meeting time from 60 to 30 minutes. Although seemingly short, this provided enough time to prepare for the multiple battle rhythm events that required transportation inputs.
The dispersion of the DTO across the command posts was successful but not sustainable. DTO capabilities degraded as the battle progressed and lines of communications extended.
Route battle drills and convoy clearance processing were delayed each time the tactical command posts jumped. The 25th ID identified shortfalls in two primary areas: personnel and training.
PERSONNEL. The deputy division transportation officer position is held by a reserve officer, which does not allow for the continuity and training necessary to immediately provide the capability for a high-intensity conflict. Replacing the reserve officer with an active duty logistics captain would ensure the continuity needed.
The transportation management coordinator noncommissioned officer position was recently removed from the modified table of organization and equipment. The position provided the capability to integrate the MCT in both the division main and the SACP. In order to have a highly functioning DTO across all command posts, I recommend reauthorizing the position.
TRAINING. The 25th ID found that it lacked iterative training with the MCT. Since the exercises, the division has taken steps to remedy the shortfall by integrating the MCT with the DTO for garrison operations.
The 25th ID is a "fight tonight" division and consistently trains to be ready. Understanding the importance of being ready, the 25th ID G-4 has challenged the sustainment team to question if its structure and authorizations meet the required capabilities needed to fight and win in a high-intensity conflict.
Division transportation officers and DTOs in the Army understand the importance of logistics. They also understand that movement synchronization is the connective tissue that enables operational reach, dictates tempo, and ultimately prevents culmination.
As transportation experts, it is imperative that we continually test and challenge current structures in order to ensure we will be able to deliver the capabilities needed to fight and win our nation's wars.
Maj. Mark A. Yore is the division transportation officer for the 25th ID. He holds a bachelor's degree in speech communication from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a master's degree in global and international studies from the University of Kansas. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College.
This article was published in the April-June 2019 issue of Army Sustainment.