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2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Special missions aviators from 41st Rescue Squadron (RQS) carry ammunition to an HH-60G Pave Hawk during a spin-up exercise at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, Aug. 17, 2018. During the exercise, Airmen faced realistic scenarios and situations to pre... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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The commodity of ammunition is a unique class of supply categorized as Class V. The commodity is a consumable supply item that requires additional expertise to transport, store, and conduct issuance. Contractors, service members, and Department of Defense (DOD) Civilians need specialized knowledge to manage Class V at the various echelons. Each of the services has its function in munition logistics, and each is required to identify a total munitions requirement to perform their assigned military mission. From funding to the development process, production, and procurement; the acquisition process is similar across the military services. As ammunition logistics moves along the supply chain, each service has its unique management. Individual service members may not be familiar with each of the services ammunition management decreasing interoperability for Common-User Logistics (CUL). Understanding ammunition management at each service relates directly to the effectiveness at the tactical level, which is linked to the success of the joint force.


At the strategic level for the military services, the Army maintains the role of single manager for conventional ammunition (SMCA) with an organic industrial base (OIB) that provides most of the production of ammunition and explosives used by defense weapon systems. Each of the military services conducts Non-SMCA and missile acquisition with the Missile Defense Agency Each service has similar procedures for the munitions requirements process to identify their own services' total munitions requirement and to utilize the Program Objective Memorandums cycle. Appropriation Budget Activities provide funding for each of the services' ammunition procurement. The DOD level with supporting agencies conduct strategic level decision making on acquisition, procurement, and production. Strategic level production decisions dictate how the joint activities complete the operational distribution process from the Army's OIB to the forward line of troops.


Joint Munitions Command's transportation coordinating activity ensures proper transportation prioritization and port utilization. The activity uses United States Transportation Command's (USTRANSCOM) distribution process through the service owned components of Air Mobility Command, Military Sealift Command, and Surface Deployment and Distribution Command; Air Force, Navy, and Army, respectively. The USTRANSCOM command is one of ten unified commands that are fully integrated and allows for interoperability among the military services. The unified command allows for common processes among services as intermodal transportation with primary and secondary modes of transportation can easily be transferred from one service to another service. The ease of interoperability is the reliance on the services using DOD regulations as the common denominator for transportation processes. The operational level distribution process is under the command and control of one unified command using integrated defense regulations. As ammunition logistics reaches down to the tactical level, interoperability becomes the most difficult.


The most common types of munition transactions completed are when one service component supports another by either common item support or cross-leveling, both require reimbursement from the service receiving support. Reimbursement is as repayment in like items. Cross-leveling is used to support immediate missions or training and reduce joint operations area inventory imbalances. Common item support, also known as CUL, is used to identify one service as the single-source provider to reduce redundancy in a designated joint operations area.


At the tactical level, joint logistics is the coordinated use, synchronization, and sharing of two or more combatant commands or military services' logistics resources to support the joint force in the joint operations area. Ammunition supply activities provide munitions support, but naming conventions and automated systems vary depending on the military service that provides the support. These two are not the only differences among the services that must be understood to increase interoperability among joint munition operations. The difference includes authority for responsibility and accountability, organizational structure, and documentation for transactions. Understanding how each service conducts ammunition leads to better awareness of the joint logistics environment in multi-domain operations.


The Army is the land warfare service branch of the Armed Forces. As such, ammunition distribution at the tactical level is land-based with the emplacement of ammunition support activities to build and sustain combat power. The Army's ammunition support activity is made up of ammunition supply points that can be field, semi-fixed, or permanent storage areas of various sizes and ammunition transfer holding points which are small, temporary holding areas. The Army utilizes the Standard Army Ammunition System (SAAS), which automates and integrates ammunition management functions between the using units, support activities, and theater managers. SAAS-ammunition supply point is the system of record for retail level accountability, and SAAS-Material Management Center manages the theater wholesale within an area of operations. At the user level, Total Ammunition Management Information System (TAMIS) is used to submit electronic Department of the Army Form 581 to request munitions from supporting ammunition supply points.


The Air Force is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the Armed Forces. Munitions operations are air-based around airfields with flight line activities and munitions storage area. As the only military branch without warrant officers, Munitions Accountable Systems Officers are senior enlisted personnel and are the Accountable Property Officer. The Air Force uses the Combat Ammunition System (CAS) as the single system of record for management of conventional munitions. Commanders are announced and recorded on G-series orders following Air Force instructions. Unit commanders delegate their authority to selected individuals on Air Force Form 68, Munitions Authorization Record, to request, receive, and submit expenditures for their command using the CAS documentation. The Munitions Systems Section/Flight conducts the flightline support activity with inspection, maintenance, assembly, and flight line delivery for missiles and Precision Guided Munitions.


Navy ordnance management has two broad categories of afloat and ashore activities, managed by afloat units and Navy Munitions Command (NMC) activities' ammunition forward stock points. Afloat units include Cargo/ammunition ships, Fast Combat Support Ship, and ammunition stowage spaces aboard Fleet vessels that require space for munitions and missiles. The NMC manages ammunition forward stock point activities and maintain stockage levels to support fleet ammunition positioning requirements properly. Underway transfer of ammunition is the method of replenishment for ships that are specifically designed to transport and transfer ammunition, using DD Form 1348-1A as documentation. Normal replenishment speed for transferring ammunition from ship to ship in 12 to 16 knots, and some ships have vertical replenishment facilities to use vertical lift assets. The Navy uses the Ordnance Information System (OIS) for the integration of ordnance logistics systems used for asset management and accountability. The OIS-Wholesale system tracks requirements, assets, production, expenditures, costs, and technical inventory, and OIS-Retail is for retail ammunition asset management and reporting. The Marine Corps has adopted the system.


This service divides their ammunition operations into two subclasses, Air (A) and Ground (W) support. The ammunition company of the Marine logistics group provides Class V (W) supply support to the Marine expeditionary force. Marine aviation logistics squadron is the Marine Corps' tactical aviation logistics organization and provides direct Class V (A) support to aircraft squadrons. The Marine Corps follows Navy regulations for Class V (A) support. The ammunition company can be tasked and organized to operate two separate direct support ammunition platoons providing distribution from Field Ammunition Supply Points and may be augmented by aviation ordnance personnel when supporting aviation combat elements. The Marine Corps uses its version of OIS, named OIS-Marine Corps (OIS-MC), which merges the wholesale and retail ammunition management functions into a single integrated system and set of processes. For Class V (W), the service uses TAMIS for allocating, forecasting, requisitioning, and expenditure reporting. The system is used much like the Army and is the service that has the most interoperability.


The four services all use ammunition and have many of the similar training requirements using the same items. Other weapon systems are different and vary when it comes to combat ammunition. The difference between the services is very noticeable and is not prone to interoperability, especially in situations that require one service to support another for any length of time. Future threats will see large-scale combat and multi-domain operations that will require each of the services to be dependent on each other in a Joint Operations Area. Joint munitions operations must be exercised as we move ammunition logistics away from linear service-oriented operations. To trained forces that can achieve interoperability to fight and win the next large-scale combat operation.


Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael K. Lima is the ammunition warrant officer for 10th Support Group, at Torii Station, Okinawa, Japan. He is an accountable officer of an ammunition supply point at Kadena Air Base. He was battalion senior warrant officer advisor for 6th Ordnance Battalion and the accountable officer for 52nd Ordnance Company in the Republic of Korea. He holds a doctorate in business administration and a master's degree from Baker College Center for Graduate Studies.


This article was published in the January-March 2020 issue of Army Sustainment.

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