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FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- The 8th Theater Sustainment Command’s Army Watercraft Systems integrated with a joint maritime force to increase interoperability within the Indo-Pacific maritime domain during last month’s Valiant Shield exercise.

In an era of increased operations, the 8th TSC is postured to integrate AWS with the Joint Force to deliver operational advantages and capabilities by enabling increased freedom of action and providing options for the U.S. Pacific Command, Theater Joint Force Land Component Command, or as with Valiant Shield, the Theater Joint Force Maritime Component Command commander.

Additionally, integrating AWS assets with the Joint Force increases sustainment capacity while providing a security umbrella that enables the execution of 8th TSC theater opening, theater distribution and theater sustainment tasks.

This partnership is a win-win for both the 8th TSC and the Joint Force. The AWS get the added protection to conduct operations and the Joint Force gets an added layer of options to accomplish its mission.

To demonstrate this, the 8th TSC deployed Logistical Support Vessel 4, Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, to integrate with the U.S. Navy maritime operations to exhibit joint theater distribution capacity and maritime maneuver capability.

Providing Options and Preserves Freedom of Action

During Valiant Shield, LSV 4 provided the TJFMCC commander with options to operate through fixed, degraded and austere ports while conducting theater sustainment missions in support of the exercise.

LSV 4 offered a responsive, cross-domain capability to move forces, equipment and sustainment supplies close to the point of need throughout a theater of operations creating multiple, complex operational dilemmas for competitors throughout all phases of operations.

Specifically, LSV 4 served as a landing craft for theater distribution of personnel and materiel. This increased the formation’s ability to deliver cargo from advanced bases and strategic sealifts to harbors, inland waterway, remote and unimproved beaches, and denied or degraded ports.


The establishment and use of the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) systems was a key element to LSV 4’s successful joint maritime integration during Valiant Shield.

This system allows the vessel’s crew to send and receive timely and accurate information across all service components allowing commanders to plan and make decisions from a more complete common operating picture resulting in greater mission command. An instrumental capability when sailing in joint movement formations that can span miles between vessels.

Future Conflict

As competition becomes more complex, future conflicts will require reliable, agile, and responsive sustainment capabilities necessary to support the Joint Force. This drives the need to continue to experiment with new joint concepts to increase the use of AWS.

AWS support concepts like bridging the last tactical mile, where the LSV moves personnel and materiel from ships to the beach in a contested area or providing a unique launching platform for air defense assets.

As AWS crews continue to learn and exercise integrating into the Joint Force, they can provide a more general purpose small vessels to assist the larger force in providing capabilities their fleet cannot currently provide.

Operations in a Degraded Environment

Valiant Shield was conducted in a degraded environment due to COVID-19. As with any degraded environment, the resulting plans and orders reflected the cumulative considerations and assessments to mitigate the threat and conduct operations.

Valiant Shield is a U.S.-only, biennial training exercise that focuses on the integration of joint training in a blue-water, real-world environment. More than 11,000 Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen synchronized operations to demonstrate their readiness to respond to any contingency at a moment’s notice.

To protect the force, all participants were only authorized to travel to work and their hotels to mitigate the spread of the virus. Furthermore, all participants followed Centers for Disease Control guidance by wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing, daily temperature checks, and single points of entry, identifying all close contacts, and sanitizing workspaces.

The 8th Theater Sustainment Command is the Indo-Pacific Theater’s senior Army logistics unit. The TSC is responsible for theater opening, theater distribution and theater sustainment throughout the vast region, and the unit's troops represent 167 different skill sets, with 35 unique capabilities, to include military police, explosive ordnance disposal, Army Watercraft Systems, dive, engineer, transportation, and sustainment operations.