By Arpi Dilanian and Matthew HowardJanuary 16, 2020
As the Joint Staff J-4, Air Force Lt. Gen. Giovanni K. Tuck is the primary integrator of logistics planning and execution across the combatant commands (CCMDs) and the services. A command pilot with more than 4,800 flight hours, Tuck's previous assignments include commander, 18th Air Force; director of Operations and Plans, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM); and commander, Defense Logistics Agency, Energy. In the face of an evolving mission set, we sat down to hear his perspectives on Joint readiness for the future fight.
How is the Joint Logistics Enterprise (JLEnt) ensuring we are ready to sustain large-scale combat operations?
Everything our team is aiming towards points directly at the National Defense Strategy (NDS) and its intended outcomes, so where there is a clear focus on peer competition and the readiness required, as well as being prepared for contingencies we see in the news cycle today like in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Our role is to assess the JLEnt, effectively apply scarce resources against the NDS priority set while providing decision space to the Chairman and, ultimately, the Secretary of Defense who assumes CCMD risk and the discussions which follow to affect an outcome. We are changing the trajectory we are on to compete with China and Russia who are outspending the United States on defense in order to keep pace. So we must explore ways to do things better (force development) and in the future do things differently (force design) in order to move and sustain the Joint Force. This must include taking new and innovative concepts and run them through exercises, war games, and experimentation.
For the last two decades, we have been comfortable with rotational force deployments and sustainment. USTRANSCOM would fly in a brigade combat team-sized element and people would descend on equipment. Today, we've actually dusted off our motor skills on how to no-kidding deploy an entire armored brigade combat team, moving men, women, and equipment sets from fort to port via rail or truck line haul, onloading and transporting Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, up-armored vehicles, and helicopters on commercial carriers, and then offloading onto an away port three ships' worth of capacity to then be received, staged, and moved to a tactical assembly area where Army sustainment brigades reassemble and put them at the point of contact … this we are good at now with 50-plus of these deployments/redeployments a year. Our commercial partners provide a tremendous backbone upon which we can rely, and the same is true of our allies on the receiving end pushing to the forward edge of battle. DEFENDER-Europe 20 will be a great opportunity to see all this play out on an even bigger scale.
Can you elaborate on DEFENDER-Europe 20, specifically the role our allies and partners will play?
What makes this exercise amazing is the opportunity to work with other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. Exercising interoperability and burden-sharing, we'll be able to test logistical warfighting concepts at the division level versus a single, rotating brigade. Army Prepositioned Stocks will play a role as we unpack and deploy/sustain/redeploy equipment stored in theater at the time and place of our choosing. We'll certainly test velocity, military mobility between NATO countries and our operational contracting support with organizations like the NATO Support Procurement Agency.
DEFENDER-Europe 20 is also shaping the work we do at the NATO Logistics Committee (29 member nations) to enable the Supreme Allied Commander Europe's (SACEUR) area of responsibility which dovetails nicely with the National Defense Strategy. These senior civil and military representatives from all 29 countries come together to talk about these concepts and how we're going to work together in execution.
A new concept underway is the Joint Support and Enabling Command, located in Ulm, Germany. This command will be responsible for synchronizing the rapid movement of logistics. Think about our expeditionary sustainment commands (ESCs), like the 19th ESC in Korea; from rear areas, they are responsible for supporting the forward areas closest to the battle lines. With this new command, we're looking at how to do this on a NATO scale, rather than only bilateral or multilateral partnerships. DEFENDER-Europe 20 will help us work through how that might look.
How else is the NATO Logistics Committee enabling sustainment operations?
It's important to look at how we enable 29 countries that are together only twice a year to drive decisions. Often, NATO military representatives will have their folks address an International Committee SACEUR enablement tasker without the benefit of 29 logistics general and flag officers who will be tasked to deliver in execution. We are changing the system to be more logistics informed by our logistics committee.
So we put forth a concept on how we receive information flowing from the alliance and better insert it into the military committee. This way, from a logistics perspective, these flag officers can take a good, hard look at the issues and provide our advice as one voice going back up the chain. Then as the military committee reviews it, they know it has the position and endorsement of our full community. I'll address three topics next.
Military mobility is a topic we frequently discuss in committee. Short of NATO Article V, how do you swiftly move in exercises or contingencies between NATO countries? It's challenging because Defense Ministries in most NATO countries do not have the authority for access, basing, and overflight which may rest with Ministries of Foreign Affairs or Interior, whose view differs from the military. So we're working through the process to be able to quickly resolve diplomatic clearances and border access to meet the framework.
Contracting support is another big focus. The NATO Support and Procurement Agency in Luxembourg is a wonderful organization. In addition to contract capacity, they can provide contracting vehicles and manage the limited commercial support to operations in order to deconflict/synchronize/prioritize contributing force movements across NATO. If every country has responsibility to have battalion- or squadron-sized elements on the hook to respond in crisis, having an integrated way to look at contracting is absolutely critical.
The other big piece is acquisition cross-service agreements. Take fuel, for example. How do we transport fuel to the north when we talk about a Baltic engagement? How do you help in the Mediterranean if you're going to support United States African Command (AFRICOM) and United States Central Command (CENTCOM) through United States European Command (EUCOM)? The Central European Pipeline System only services six NATO countries and is not connected to the other various European networks. You can deliver fuel with trucks and rail, but it will depend on arrangements we have with other countries. We have an office that tracks over 110 cross-service agreements just internally within the Department of Defense. We can get there, but must continue exploring how other countries interconnect through these agreements so we can take advantage of swaps and exchanges--particularly with things as fungible as fuel--to get the product where we need at the
As our armed forces modernize, how are you ensuring the JLEnt remains integrated?
Regular touch points with each of the Service 4s to support CCMD J-4s. As respective service programming efforts evolve, it's important we're brought into the conversation early and often. We have the advantage of being able to articulate CCMD requirements, not only for the next three to five years, but also looking more broadly at areas which will have contested logistics to operate within.
Our goal is to run these efforts through our capstone concept for Joint Operations. As eluded to earlier in this article and within this framework, we can experiment, war game, study, and exercise concepts to determine whether or not these can inform service programming processes based on what we think would close CCMDs' logistics gaps and seams.
There's also an opportunity for us to have a whole-of-government approach. We host a Worldwide Logistics Symposium, which includes a quarterly Whole-of-Government Logistics Council meeting to cross talk and information share across the interagency.
Can you discuss the importance of work-life balance for all of our young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines?
I'm always hopeful someone asks me about this because it's really an important topic, particularly for our younger force as they strive to lead organizations and ultimately command. For the last two decades, I could survive on five hours of sleep. I drank a lot of soda, ate for my country and hardly had a fitness regimen. I felt I needed to change, even though I wasn't facing any serious medical concerns.
Part of that push came after attending a course for senior leaders where they implored us to focus on four things: myself, family, work and community, all umbrella'd under this thing called faith--not necessarily in the religious sense, but in the idea that, as humans, we believe in something.
First: myself, which was mainly a focus on diet and fitness. I got rid of all things diet soda and switched to plant-based dairy substitutes. I also started to watch closely what I ate, staying away from high salts, fats, cholesterols and sugars shown on nutritional values on packaging labels. So I started minimizing several food groups. I like pizza. Where a normal slice might be 300 calories, I started asking places to make mine with half the tomato sauce, half the mozzarella, and half the protein. And instead of eating the whole pizza, I'd have a couple slices and take the rest home. Just from the food change I made, I started to feel healthier.
I started a fitness regimen which burned 400-700 calories a day; it wasn't so much about losing weight, but more about being active. In five weeks, I went from 195 lbs on this 5'8" frame, down to 168 lbs. I still have this as a target.
Second: family. There's a phrase I really believe in and wish I could properly give credit: virtually present is actually absence. I recall coming home after working a 10- or 12-hour day and sitting down with my family. My daughter would say, "Hey Dad, check this out," and I would look up briefly from whatever work I had brought home and then dive back in. I did this from squadron command all the way to wing command and beyond. So I decided when a family member walks into the room, the laptop closes, everything gets put away, and I am present. After a recent visit, my daughter gave me the biggest hug when she left and said, "Dad, I had the best time." Whether it was watching "The Bachelor" on television or some other activity she loved, I was present and could converse about whatever we did. Be present with the people you care about.
Third: the job. I cut down on temporary duties and decided I would no longer come to work at five or six in the morning and leave at six or seven at night. Today, I arrive at 7 a.m., try to shut it down to go home by five. I no longer do email past nine o'clock every night. I make sure I eat a healthy lunch every day, and I make time for the fitness center. Though it's harder in my current job, when it's on the calendar, it's mine to give up versus not even being scheduled in the past. I have fundamentally shifted from what I was doing the last 20-plus years.
Last: community. As I scaled back all of those travel requirements, the team did ask, "What about this upcoming event on your calendar called the Tuskegee Airmen Legacy Flight Academy?" My response: "That is community, we're going to do that." How cool was it to go to an airfield and talk to 150 inner-city kids who might not otherwise get the chance to fly airplanes? Talk about capturing the heart of a five year old and opening the eyes of a 19 year old. You're able to do that because you're giving back to the community in which you grew up.
I went through this process about a year-and-a-half ago, and I've made it a priority in my life. My point is if you don't make these changes, something's going to catch up to you. The next thing you know, you're not going to be present for your family or friends, or around to do the things you'd like with the people who like you back.
Any final thoughts?
Thank you for taking the time to visit with me and our team. We have a solemn obligation to take care of America's sons and daughters. We do this by advising our Chairman, advocating on behalf of the CCMDs and working through our services informed by our Office of Secretary of Defense staff. Our responsibility is to set the globe, make the warfighter successful and carry forward the risk each assumes. Every one of you do tremendous work every day to make this a reality. When some youngster on the field needs something, you make sure they have it, and they should never have to wonder when it's coming. So thank you to all logisticians across the force for what you do for our nation. You are making the headlines now.
Arpi Dilanian is a strategic analyst in the Army G-4's Logistics Initiatives Group. She holds a bachelor's degree from American University and a master's degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Matthew Howard is a strategic analyst in the Army G-4's Logistics Initiative Group. He holds a bachelor's and master's degree from Georgetown University.
This article was published in the January-March 2020 issue of Army Sustainment.