By Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph C. CornelisonJuly 18, 2019
U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) draws its lineage from the storied history of the Third U.S. Army, which was commanded by one of America's most famous generals, Gen. George S. Patton Jr. Aptly referred to as "Old Blood and Guts," Patton certainly understood the importance of combat logistics. During the Third Army's historic drive to relieve the beleaguered First Army at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, Patton told one of his logistics officers, "My men can eat their belts, but my tanks have gotta have gas!"
To this day, ARCENT still places a premium on timely and efficient logistics and sustainment. And I believe that our subordinate commanders' logistics status reporting accuracy has improved since Patton's tour of duty with the outfit.
The ARCENT Mission
ARCENT is designated by the Secretary of the Army as the Army service component command of Central Command (CENTCOM). On behalf of the Secretary of the Army, ARCENT exercises administrative control of more than 35,000 U.S. Army personnel in the Middle East and Central Asia by supplying, equipping, training, servicing, administrating, and maintaining forces. We also support joint partners in the CENTCOM area of responsibility (AOR) through Army support to other services, such as missile defense, logistics management, transportation, fuel distribution, communications, veterinary services, and explosive ordnance disposal.
ARCENT's additional sustainment and protection responsibilities include contracting, medical support and evacuation, military postal service support, and detainee operations. Additionally, ARCENT improves relationships and interoperability with partner nations through exercises and facilitates the transition of joint forces in and out of theater.
As the command sergeant major of ARCENT, my peers frequently ask me what it is like to be the senior enlisted leader of an Army service component command. I tell them that we are responsible for tens of thousands of multicomponent Soldiers whose units rotate out frequently on different timelines. These factors present some unique yet rewarding leadership challenges.
My background as an infantryman with divisional Army units provided me with a working, but less than expert, knowledge of the Army logistics and sustainment enterprise. However, I quickly ascertained that one of the most important things we do in ARCENT is to set the theater for potential combat operations, primarily a logistics and sustainment function.
How do we accomplish this? By transporting, feeding, fueling, and arming the Soldiers within the CENTCOM AOR and repairing and assisting with the maintenance of their equipment. The 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) is the vital element that makes this most important mission happen.
The 1st TSC
ARCENT's 1st TSC is a two-star command based at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with a forward command and control element at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The 1st TSC comprises more than 10,000 Soldiers, civilians, and contractors who ensure the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines within the CENTCOM AOR have the supplies and transportation to accomplish their missions.
A major subordinate element of the 1st TSC is the 184th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) with the Mississippi National Guard. The 184th ESC is the forward face of the 1st TSC in theater and oversees day to day sustainment efforts for the 1st TSC across the CENTCOM AOR. Under the 184th ESC's span of control are countless active Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve sustainment units that move, by land, sea, or air, what is needed throughout 20 countries in the CENTCOM AOR.
SETTING THE THEATER
The best way to demonstrate the sustainment reach and strength of ARCENT is to use a hypothetical scenario. Sgt. Smith is a military occupational specialty 19K, M1 armor crewman, from the Army National Guard. His state's 100th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) has been assigned the Operation Spartan Shield mission, supporting ARCENT and CENTCOM.
After mobilizing at a stateside mobilization site, Sgt. Smith and the 100th ABCT ship their equipment and embark on a nine-month deployment to the Middle East. Sgt. Smith arrives at the theater gateway at Camp Arifjan. The camp is a cantonment area that houses more than 13,000 Soldiers and civilians who support missions throughout the CENTCOM AOR.
The Camp Arifijan theater gateway has been operational since Operation Desert Storm and is currently operated by elements of the 300th Special Troops Battalion. The gateway processes over 100,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, Marines and civilians a year as they transit to and from the CENTCOM AOR. Sgt. Smith will spend approximately two to three days at the gateway, where he will receive a theater welcome brief, finance brief, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) brief, and a camp orientation. Soldiers in units with onward movements will receive additional information regarding flights to their final destinations.
After in-processing at the gateway, Sgt. Smith and his battle buddies will move to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, which will be their on-again, off-again home for the rest of their rotation. Camp Buehring is another ARCENT-run facility that houses over 18,000 Soldiers and civilians who support ARCENT missions across the CENTCOM AOR.
While at Camp Buehring, Sgt. Smith will draw an M1 tank from the ARCENT-maintained Army Preposition Stocks (APS) 5 equipment set that is stored and maintained by ARCENT's 401st Army Field Support Brigade. The APS-5 fleet encompasses several brigades' worth of vehicular equipment, including thousands of armored vehicles, artillery equipment, and engineer and sustainment rolling stock.
Sgt. Smith's M1 has been stored in a climate-controlled environment and maintained to standard for the last seven years. The M1 has all basic issue items and necessary crew equipment that makes Sgt. Smith's tank crew combat ready the minute they leave the APS-5 issue yard.
Meanwhile, Sgt Smith's home station baggage and equipment that did not fly into theater with him is moving into theater through the Trans Arabian Network (TAN). The TAN is a huge network of sea, air, and land nodes that spans the entirety of the Arabian Peninsula.
The 184th ESC oversees and manages ARCENT equipment that moves through and across the TAN. For example, the ABCT's containerized equipment sails from a U.S. port, across the Atlantic Ocean, around the Horn of Africa, and then into one of the many available ports across the region, all under the watchful eyes of the 595th Transportation Brigade, Military Surface Deployment Distribution Command. From there, it is trucked inland and finally delivered to Sgt. Smith at his unit area in Camp Buehring.
This scenario is just one of the many ways that ARCENT can use the TAN to deliver equipment and supplies to Soldiers. Keeping the TAN "warm" by using as many nodes and segments as possible, to move as much equipment as we can, gives the CENTCOM commander the strategic and operational flexibility for access, basing, and overflight by our forces throughout the AOR.
SUSTAINING THE FIGHT
During Sgt. Smith's tour of duty, readiness and the maintenance thereof is always a prime consideration for ARCENT leadership. We realize Sgt. Smith and his ABCT will potentially have future missions elsewhere.
Sgt. Smith and his tank crew will have multiple opportunities to conduct tank gunneries at the Udairi Range Complex located near Camp Buehring, with ammunition provided by ARCENT sustainment Soldiers from the 300th Sustainment Brigade. These gunneries ensure their crew qualifications are current. It not only keeps them ready for their theater reserve mission within the CENTCOM AOR but also ensures they return to their home station with little to no degradation of individual, team, and crew readiness.
As Sgt. Smith's ABCT is serving as the CENTCOM theater reserve, he may have the opportunity to conduct missions as part of evolving requirements for the other named operations within the CENTCOM AOR--Operation Inherent Resolve or Operation Freedom Sentinel. Supporting these operations through theater-coordinated agreements is yet another way ARCENT Soldiers support the combatant commander.
Sgt. Smith and a portion of his unit transition to an austere location within Syria for a short time to provide site security in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Sgt. Smith and his unit are resupplied by air courtesy of the CENTCOM Deployment and Distribution Operation Center. This unit has ensured the delivery of over 53,000 tons by land and 5,800 tons by air of multiple classes of supply during the current campaign--all in the name of keeping Soldiers and their equipment fit to fight and combat effective.
Additionally, preventative medicine services and inspections in these austere locations are provided by the 8th Medical Brigade. This unit's Soldiers ensure Sgt. Smith is living in sanitary conditions and that environmental hazards, such as foodborne illnesses or disease vectors, do not deplete our forces.
Although Sgt. Smith and his tank crew are fictional, the monumental efforts by ARCENT sustainers described above happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ARCENT supports the warfighter from the Sinai desert to the Euphrates River Valley and from the streets of Mosul, Iraq, to the mountains of Afghanistan. If you eat it, shoot it, drive it, or fly it, effectively an ARCENT sustainer has accomplished his or her mission.
We at ARCENT realize logistics and sustainment are the key enablers that continue to allow our Soldiers to fight and win, wherever and whenever they may be called.
Third Always First. Patton's Own!
Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph C. Cornelison is the command sergeant major of the ARCENT Coalition Forces Land Component Command. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Troy University, and he is a graduate of every level of the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development System and the Master Fitness Course.