Throughout her nearly four-decade career, retired Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody transformed Army sustainment at every step of the way. Hailing from a family who has served the nation continuously since 1862, Dunwoody’s oversight of sustainment operations from force deployment through equipment retrograde—among the largest in history—was instrumental to operations in the Middle East.A career logistician, Dunwoody served as both commanding general of Combined Arms Support Command and the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, before breaking the military’s brass ceiling as Army Materiel Command’s 17th commanding general. Here are her perspectives on the evolution of strategic readiness across the Army.What is ‘strategic readiness’ and how did we improve across the Army during your time in uniform?To me, strategic readiness is the ability of the Army’s senior leadership to influence readiness. That means having the tools to give real-time, actionable situational awareness; and thus the ability to redirect supplies, equipment, and people based on changes in operational demand. We have come a long way from trying to manage an over $400 billion dollar enterprise on spreadsheets and property books. With today’s systems that give us real-time asset visibility and readiness status, senior leaders can make distribution decisions to get the right stuff to the right place at the right time.From the time I was a property book officer as a second lieutenant, my goal was to modernize the way we accounted for property. As a major in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, I witnessed thousands of containers shipped into the area of operations without radio frequency identification (RFID). I watched supply sergeants work like junkyard dogs trying to find their equipment in the ports. Over 20,000 containers were shipped back to the U.S., unopened, because no one knew what was in them. While we were very successful, operationally, it was a very expensive way of doing business.Technology has precluded the old way of reordering supplies “just in case.” In the old days, information was power; today, shared information is power. Throughout the entire supply chain, leaders now have the power to make prudent, strategic decisions because they have confidence that real-time systems provide reliable information.You put a lot of energy into advancing logistics automation. Can you discuss how these efforts improved strategic readiness?My passion for logistics automation and modernization only strengthened after my experiences in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. At that time, everyone said we needed total asset visibility (TAV), that in-transit visibility (ITV) was a must—but the Army never funded it. When deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom as the commander of 1st Corps Support Command, we weren’t any better.As I became the Army G-4, I made it my number one priority to get the automation for TAV and ITV. We started a campaign within the Pentagon and throughout the sustainment community, but it was hard. Parochialism and bureaucracy were constantly the enemy. However, our case became so compelling that we had the opportunity to brief then Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker and his “three kings”—the Army G-3/5/7, G-8, and budget officer. Schoomaker decided to make funding logistics automation a top priority for the Army; and that was the real beginning of our journey to fix an antiquated, manual system in favor of an enterprise approach to managing materiel.Take Global Combat Support System-Army today, for example, and look how far we’ve come. We were able to adapt a commercial off-the-shelf product into an integrated tactical logistics system to manage materiel across the Army. The result? Commanders now have unprecedented, near-real-time TAV to verify readiness and better inform decisions. The system is truly a game-changer in logistics; and as we look to the future, I hope Army Futures Command continues to build upon this progress and delivers on being the leading edge for modernization.From your experience, are there any deployment lessons learned that apply to today’s force?From 2002 to 2004, I had the privilege of commanding Military Traffic Management Command—later Surface Deployment and Distribution Command—during the largest deployment of forces since World War II. We had the mandated mission to support the surge and redeployment by moving eight of our 10 divisions and a Marine Expeditionary Force, all within a 90-day window. I discovered early on we were very stove-piped as an organization and heavily dependent upon the mobilization of our Reserve capability. As a result, we needed a new holistic strategic approach to the operation.In a way, it was like conducting an orchestra: making sure every unit and organization across the entire global distribution network— whether Army, Air Force, Navy, or commercial—knew the challenge and understood their role in delivering mission success. The most helpful exercise in doing so was the development of a complete sync matrix that identified every node of the deployment and redeployment distribution process and the requirements to make this feat possible. We had visibility of every ship available, timelines of deploying and redeploying units, and the number of berths available for on-load and off-load.Who would’ve thought we’d need to negotiate more berths with the Saudis, or believed the long pole in the tent for redeployment would be a shortage of wash racks? Construction of the matrix brought light to these gaps and allowed us to then communicate shortfalls to the commander of U.S. Transportation Command. This ensured we pushed to fix them in the distribution system and was critical to making the operation possible.One of the biggest lessons we were able to fix was to start loading cargo by brigade combat teams (BCTs). In the old days, we tried to maximize efficiency by putting all like items on a particular ship to optimize space. When we started loading vessels by BCTs, we caught a lot of grief at first because our stow factors were not as efficient.However, doing so made the life of the brigade commander a lot easier: they no longer had to search for various equipment off of multiple ships. This significantly reduced the integration time in theater. And as every ship delivered equipment, we also had to be prepared to fill it with a redeploying unit—no deadheading.How do other Services come into play as we think about strategic readiness?I’m a big believer in joint, and in collaboration, communication, and cooperation. Relationships are incredibly important, and each service has to understand what the others bring to the table: what capabilities they have to offer, and what they can provide in a theater. Building trust in these relationships helps eliminate fears that these are power moves, or that someone is more important than someone else.While the Army, fortunately, has an incredible arsenal of logistics, at the end of the day, it’s all about being able to leverage joint capabilities. And not just in the time of need; every day. That means planning together, training together, executing together, and making it the way we all do business.The idea of a Joint Logistics Command (JLC) has come up frequently, but throughout my career was met with a lot of resistance. There is a perception this concept equates to loss of control and power to one service or another. But in my mind, I always believed the idea of a Joint Task Force could only mean goodness. Depending on whoever was leading a particular operation being conducted, shouldn’t that service serve as the JLC with support from the other services?Despite great resistance, in 2002 we were actually able to stand up a JLC in Uzbekistan. Because of the tremendous capability it brought to everyone at the table—all Services—it became the go-to place to get stuff accomplished for everyone. As we look towards a more complex, multi-domain battlefield in the future, our ability to think joint, plan joint, and sustain joint will only become more important.How important are exercises like Defender Europe 2020 for stressing the agility and responsiveness of the joint logistics enterprise?My experiences in sustainment simulations and exercises, to include the old Battle Command Training Program, was less than complimentary. In those days, we spent a lot of time preparing and training, but the simulations wished away logistics. We never ran out of anything.In the real-world calculations, there were often shortfalls in fuel, medical capability, or ammunition, all of which would have precluded mission accomplishment. They were simply wished away. As our training and exercises evolve, we have to ensure they are as accurate and realistic as possible when it comes to the area of logistics. Deep dives should be conducted into how joint logistics will be played out and executed so people can’t try to game the system. These exercises should expose real-world strengths and weaknesses so teams can learn and, ultimately, be better.What were some of the key attributes to your success that young sustainment leaders today can emulate?I was blessed to serve with many talented Soldiers—both noncommissioned officers and officers—and civilians across the Army and the joint community. They made the unimaginable happen. Because of them, the logistics capability of our entire military today is unmatched and cannot be replicated anywhere in the world. With the right collaboration, communication, and cooperation, sustainment leaders bring full-spectrum logistics—everything from tactical support to the power of the entire industrial base—to the battlefield and to the warfighter.Every day, think about what you can do to make a difference in the lives of our deployed men and women and their families, and for those under your leadership. We ask an awful lot of our Soldiers and families. They deserve your best effort. Take care of your teammates, if you are a leader, do what is best for your Soldiers to help them be successful. If they know you really care, they will do anything for you. If you aren’t yet a leader, be a good follower and you will soon have that opportunity to lead.Most importantly, live and lead by a higher standard.--------------------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 bachelor's and master's degrees from Georgetown University.--------------------This article was published in the April-June 2020 issue of Army Sustainment.RELATED LINKSArmy Sustainment homepageThe Current issue of Army Sustainment in pdf formatCurrent Army Sustainment Online ArticlesConnect with Army Sustainment on LinkedInConnect with Army Sustainment on Facebook