By HQDA G-4May 30, 2019
ARLINGTON (VA)-- Logistics will be contested in every domain of the future battlespace, but top Army leaders concluded at a conference this week that logisticians are making great progress in preparing for such a battle and challenged industry to help the Army better incorporate emerging technologies.
"Personnel, materiel, and equipment will be required on the future battlefield at a scale, pace, and duration significantly greater than we have seen before," said LTG Aundre Piggee, Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Logistics. "But there is no doubt in my mind that the Army of 2028 will be ready to deploy, fight, and win against any adversary, anytime, anywhere." He made the remarks to 150 industry and military leaders at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Sustainment Hot Topic symposium.
LTG Piggee highlighted several initiatives contributing to preparations, including ensuring doctrine is forward looking, assessing how the Army fights from a sustainment perspective, and integrating logisticians with the new Army Futures Command.
But he said sustainers are still lagging on employing technology. "I constantly raise the need to utilize today's technology today," he said. "But we're in catch-up mode, and not even at today. More importantly, we need to get past today and look to 2028 and beyond."
He cited several opportunities to employ technology, including autonomous systems that would load up supplies in a driverless vehicle, program maps, and satellite-guide them; and new equipping processes to provide Soldiers their uniforms and equipment via technology-driven, direct delivery.
"I have seen first-hand the incredible capabilities of industry," LTG Piggee said. "I encourage industry to keep sharing innovative ideas. We need to grow together."
Dr. Bruce Jette, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, said his door is open to new ideas, and that when technologies are developed, sustainment needs to be addressed of up front, and not as an afterthought.
In developing a fully automated tank turret, Dr. Jette described the Army's efforts to think deeply about how it will be maintained. "I can make a turret that can find enemies and engage them faster, but how do we refuel? How do we re-load ammunition? Those are the kind of logistics issues that need to be integrated, so they are part of the system and not an obstacle."
LTG (Ret) Kathleen Gainey warned that cybersecurity will play an important role in a multi-domain environment. "We need to worry about the enemy spoofing our logistics information systems with inaccurate data," she said. "That, to me, would be worse than just taking out our systems. How do we know we have not been spoofed?"
LTG Daniel Hokanson, Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau, credited increased training with improving the readiness of Guard sustainers.
"Over the last 15 years our supply systems had atrophied because we were not preparing for near-peer competitors," he said. "Sometimes we had two year notices for deployments, and when the Soldiers deployed, all their equipment was already there. Now we are training more for full-spectrum fights. And we have built some great partnerships between state Guard units and international partners."
MG Steven Ainsworth, Commanding General of the Army Reserve's 377th Theater Sustainment Command, pointed out the speed of war is increasing.
"In other wars we have had years to months to prepare," he said. "In 2028 we may have days or hours. The Reserve must be ready, because some of the first to deploy will be Reserve units. We have been training to keep ready and be able to move quickly and support at the point of need."
Industry leaders speaking at the conference said lessons they have learned can prepare the Army for multi-domain operations.
"What we do from a design perspective matters," said Anthony Mathis, President and Chief Executive Officer, Military Systems, GE Aviation. He highlighted GE's work to build engines that have more horsepower but burn less fuel as an example of reducing the logistics footprint.
Dave Bozeman, Vice President of Amazon Transportation Services, said artificial intelligence and machine learning could help eliminate many routine logistic movements. He illustrated Amazon Go stores, where shoppers do not have to wait in line to pay, but instead use an app when taking the products, which then automatically checks them out.
"Technology can eliminate many hidden factors in the back room, from opening boxes, to counting inventory," he said.