U.S. Army pre-positioned stocks (APS) serve to provide materiel power projection around the globe. These strategically positioned resources augment the Army's strategic airlift and military sealift requirements during contingency operations (ATP 3-35.1, Para. 1-1 & 1-3). APS-3, the Army's "afloat" stock, encompasses a number of United States naval ship ( Large Medium-Speed Roll-On/Roll-Off (RO/RO) (LMSR) vessels containing pre-configured unit sets and Unit Basic Load (UBL) of various classes of supply, in addition to Class V theater stock carrying commercial Motor Vessels (M/V). These forward-staged vessels, managed by Army Field Support Battalion-Charleston (AFSBn-CHS) (formerly Army Strategic Logistics Activity Charleston, or ASLAC) can mobilize in support of (ISO) any theater of operations when approved for mobilization by the Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) G-3/5 (ATP 3-35, Para. 2-6).AFSBn-CHS is mission commanded by 404th Army Field Support Brigade (AFSB), however, when the battalion deploys, Army Sustainment Command (ASC) Headquarters assumes operational control (OPCON) of the deployed element (see United States Army Materiel Command (AMC) Army Pre-positioned Stocks Program Organization chart below). Although not articulated in ATP 3-35.1, ASC HQ does not withhold OPCON of the AFSBn during the battalion's deployment; but instead, upon receiving OPCON of the unit, delegates the OPCON responsibility to the AFSB within the supported theater of operations. Additionally to note, every OCONUS AFSB is habitually OPCON to the specific Army Service Component Command (ASCC) or Field Army that lies within its theater of operations.This synchronization reaffirms the ASC commanding general's intent to provide each theater command with a single AMC "face to the field" in the form of an AFSB. This centralizing of AMC command structure at the tactical-operational level serves to reduce touch points with supported ASCCs.In the case an U.S. Army contingency operation is initiated, an operational needs statement (ONS) is submitted by the respective ASCC. Subsequently, if the Army G-3/5 in coordination with (ICW) National Command Authority concur with the combatant commander's assessment, and as a result allocate additional resources ISO the operation, APS-3 may be chosen as the supply source (ATP 3-35.1, 1-3). If this occurs, designated APS-3 materiel is approved for release. Once approved, Army Materiel Command (AMC) synchronizes the deployment of APS-3. Subsequently, AFSBn-CHS and Military Sealift Command (MSC), ICW TRANSCOM and SDDC, are charged with delivering this materiel to the designated theater. As a result, the vessels containing the requested materiel are deployed to designated Sea Ports of Debarkation (SPOD) within the theater of operations. Concurrently, as AFSBn-CHS Forward is realigned to the AFSB within the supported theater of operations, these deployed APS-3 stocks are naturally absorbed by the theater AFSB.ICW the Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), the theater AFSB is entrusted with mission command over the APS's reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSOI) until its official issue to the GTU. Upon vessel arrival in theater, AFSBn-CHS personnel; ICW Host Nation Support (HNS), Port Support Activity (PSA), and the gaining tactical unit (GTU); ensure the download of APS-3 at the SPOD. Following the vessel discharge, a sustainment brigade transfers the equipment to the designated ECHA in theater (FM 4-95, 4-90). Equipment is subsequently prepared for issue by the theater AFSB ICW the GTU (ATP 3-35.1, 1-11). To further explain this cooperation, IAW ATP 3-35.1, prior to the arrival of the APS-3 vessel, the GTU is to deploy an Advance Echelon (ADVON) in order to (IOT) augment AFSB personnel in downloading and preparing equipment for issue (1-11). This assistance from the GTU goes beyond simply offloading, inspecting, and receiving equipment; for in addition to these tasks, "the Advance party (of the GTU) should include unit personnel capable of assisting ASC with required maintenance" (ATP 3-35.1, 1-12, Para. 2) in order to prepare APS equipment for issue. Upon completion of the preparation process, equipment is transferred from the theater AFSB to the GTU.Although the theater AFSB is augmented by the GTU, significant AFSB support is needed to ensure the timely and seamless discharge, preparation, and issue of APS (ATP 3-35, 2-32). The theater AFSB accomplishes this mission through a coordinated effort between its two subordinate AFSBn(Prepositioned Stock) (prepo)s; the organic theater AFSBn, and the newly-attached AFSBn-CHS Forward. ATP 4-91 describes the role of the AFSBn(Prepo): "AFSBn(Prepo)s are responsible for managing APS assets. AFSBn(Prepo)s responsibilities include accounting for and maintaining unit sets, operational project stock and sustainment stocks in support of their ASCC. These USAMC units have the ability to leverage the considerable industrial base under their control to support equipment fielding's, systems modernization, sustainment level maintenance, and augment field level maintenance operations. AFSBn(Prepo)s leverage a combination of Department of the Army civilians, local national direct hires and contract service providers to perform care of supplies in storage functions. Additionally, these battalions support other missions as needed to support Army forces during RSOI, retrograde and redeployment."It is worth noting that the theater AFSB must further define the mission command relationship of AFSBn-CHS Forward in respect to its theater AFSBn. More specifically, the theater AFSB would likely have to determine, based on mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops, time available, and civilian considerations (METTC), rather to place AFSBn-CHS Forward under the OPCON of its theater AFSBn, or to retain AFSBn-CHS Forward as a Direct Reporting Unit (DRU). In the case of the latter, the theater AFSB would, also, have to delineate which AFSBn is responsible for the joint inspection, preparation of equipment for issue, and the transfer of property ICW the GTU.As demonstrated, in the event of an expeditionary operation, the download, preparation, and issue of APS-3 is a highly synchronized effort between the theater AFSB and designated ASCC. This coordination is ensured by a defined mission command structure to include: the respective theater ASCC's OPCON of the geographically assigned AFSB, and the theater AFSB's integrative mission command of AFSBn-CHS Forward and its organic AFSBn. These elements help ensure the affective RSOI of APS-3 materiel ISO U.S. Army contingency operations, and consequently, bolster the U.S. Army's power projection capabilities and strategic readiness.------------
Capt. Sean Cicogna is currently a student in the Logistics Captains Career Course at the Army Logistics University in Fort Lee, Virginia. He was previously stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington where he served as Platoon Leader, Battalion Adjutant, and Brigade Future Operations OIC.