What is Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) doing to modernize the sustainment force to meet the challenges of multi-domain operations (MDO)? To get an answer to that question, we talked to two key sustainment leaders—Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, the CASCOM commander as he wraps up his tour at CASCOM, and Brig. Gen. Michelle K. Donahue, who is dual-hatted as CASCOM’s commanding general (DCG) for modernization and the Quartermaster General (QMG).
One of your major focus areas as the CASCOM commander has been directing the command’s activities to support large-scale combat operations (LSCO) as the Army engages in its modernization activities. How have you viewed these challenges and CASCOM’s role in helping the Army meet them?
Fogg: Force modernization is one of CASCOM’s four overarching priorities. The others are readiness, leader development, and reform and influence. These are not mutually exclusive; they work together to achieve the outcomes our Army requires of the sustainment warfighting function. In a sense, modernization has been integrated into every major CASCOM activity through these priorities.
In terms of specific force modernization initiatives, we consistently nested our sustainment activities with Army senior leader guidance and doctrinal changes. Sustainment modernization must move forward in stride with Army modernization. Therefore, as we progressed in this area, we partnered very closely with critical commands and staff to ensure our efforts are nested with theirs and achieve the required results. Those stakeholders include the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and the Combined Arms Center (CAC); Army Futures Command (AFC); Army Materiel Command; Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) G1, G4, and G8; the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology; Army Forces Command (FORSCOM); our Reserve Component partners; the Army Service Component Commands, and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
Initially, FM 3.0 development, a major doctrinal change, drove our activities to move the Army focus from counter-insurgency to LSCO. That broad doctrinal shift resulted in several operational challenges, or 17 gaps, across all warfighting functions. CASCOM published our capstone FM 4.0, Sustainment Operations, as a companion to FM 3.0 and executed an extensive analysis of the sustainment challenges within the 17 gaps, such as fuel, mobility, maintenance, materiel management, and communication.
To deal with the doctrinal changes and the capability shortfalls we found in our analyses, we engaged in a comprehensive, integrated effort across all the domains of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P) as we modernized our sustainment force. In the organization domain, since the new doctrine drove the Army from a modular brigade-based focus to division-centric operations, we were actively involved in shifting the sustainment force structure to enable division-oriented operations. Our most critical effort in this area was creating the division sustainment brigade assigned to each division and its division sustainment support battalions. Those organizations are being fielded now. The sustainment-oriented gaps also required us to develop and implement a number of specific organizational changes, such as adding 100,000-gallon fuel distribution capability with a new petroleum platoon in the organic supply company, a materiel management staff, and the maintenance surge team.
In the materiel domain, we continue to work closely with AFC and our other stakeholders on all the materiel solutions required to sustain LSCO and MDO. Of importance is the critical work we are doing with our automation and communications systems. CASCOM is the lead for Line of Effort 1—Enable the Workforce—for the new converged and modernized enterprise business system (EBS) the Army is working. We are fully engaged in the business process of re-engineering and lead user experience/user interface and training efforts. We are also modernizing the sustainment tactical network and ensuring sustainment information is integrated into the command post computing environment (CPCE) while leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence. These efforts will enable sustainers to better see and understand the battlefield by linking sensor data from our combat and support platforms in a cyber-protected environment, delivering near real-time predictive decision analytics to commanders at all echelons.
As I mentioned earlier, leader development (the L domain) has been another of our overarching priorities. We have synchronized our efforts in this area with training, education, and personnel management. We are engaged in career-long assessments, such as the Battalion and Colonel Command Assessment Programs and the Career Course Cognitive Assessment Battery. These assessments have a vital role in talent management initiatives while helping the individual leaders understand their strengths and areas in which they need improvement. At the same time, we provide “how-to-lead” information to our Soldiers and scrubbing the required knowledge, skills, and behaviors of sustainers in MDO, particularly in such areas as applying data-based decision-making.
We have also increased rigor in many of our courses, such as our sustainment basic officer leader courses, and focused training on warrior tasks and skills. We simultaneously emphasize how to meet the significant challenges of providing the substantial levels of support required in contested, highly lethal environments.
How does institutional change relate to these modernization activities you are working on to build operational readiness?
Fogg: We cannot effectively produce and sustain the operational effects we need using old processes and systems in our institutional Army. That premise underlies our Reform and Influence priority. Internally, we have reformed and reshaped how CASCOM is organized to attain two fundamental goals: adapt our solutions at the speed of change in the operating environment and make ourselves commander-centric.
We have transformed our training development organization and processes to enable our courses to keep pace with operational change, and we created the Logistics and Materiel Readiness Directorate by combining two staff sections with closely related functions. Of course, we also did some significant restructuring due to the stand-up of AFC, and we continue to work hard to ensure we do not allow a seam between the Capabilities Development Integration Directorate of AFC and our Fielded Force Integration Directorate to hinder modernization progress. We also purposefully took several training development positions to create a Training Technology Division. That group has led the way for TRADOC in innovative and responsive digitized training solutions. In addition, we are in the process of standing up a leader development cell in our Army Logistics University so that we can effectively synchronize the various initiatives in this area across all our proponents.
In addition to reforming our organization, we have sought to influence broader change by engaging with leaders and partners across government, industry, community, and academia. For instance, we have actively assisted TRADOC in building a new resourcing model for training. The existing model is a long and deliberate process that struggles to update our training on pace with the much quicker modernization efforts the Army has achieved; consequently, innovation is slowed and stunted. We are working closely with TRADOC and CAC to gain model approval that resources distributed learning (DL) while reducing overall costs to the Army could expand and sustain that DL innovation. We are getting ready to pilot digitized instruction on common core lessons of the Advanced Leader Course and Senior Leader Course to provide data on DL efficacy to supplement the results we have already achieved with some of our sustainment lessons. We are also working with CAC to speed up the process involved in tracking training development work while adding our “current and relevant” metric across the enterprise. In the area of automation, we are working with numerous strategic partners to integrate medical logistics and pre-positioned stocks into our logistics Enterprise Resource Planning (Global Combat Support System-Army) while also enabling disconnected operations. Our academic partnerships have us working with universities to help get after advanced learning in supply chain management and data analytics for selected personnel. In addition, we have carefully reviewed our Training with Industry programs and added critical programs such as one associated with enterprise business systems to help as we pursue our converged EBS.
The common objectives of our reform and influence efforts are to enable modernization by attaining faster solutions and employing innovation where it makes sense.
What DOTMLPF-P changes are on the horizon that will address the LSCO gaps and further prepare the sustainment enterprise to meet the requirements for an MDO-capable force in 2028 and ultimately lay the foundation for an MDO-ready force in 2035?
Donahue: As General Fogg has indicated, to sustain the MDO-capable force, CASCOM has been focused on updating sustainment doctrine, modernizing our sustainment formations, increasing rigor in initial entry training (IET) and professional military education, and experimenting with future operational force designs and concepts to meet the needs of an MDO-ready force.
Over the last 24 months, we have also been focused on addressing the fuel, mobility, maintenance, and communication equipment gaps General Fogg mentioned to win on the future battlefield.
In the near term, we are investing in bulk petroleum capabilities, specifically a multi-mile Early Entry Fuel Distribution System, and bulk tactical and line-haul fuel distribution systems to increase inland fuel distribution requirements for the European Command and Pacific Command areas of responsibility. Additionally, we have been focused on increasing distribution capability to enable the division-centric organizational design required for LSCO. For example, we recently fielded the Enhanced Heavy Equipment Tractor and Trailer to U.S. Army Europe and Africa for our heaviest combat platforms to increase forward momentum, flexibility, and operational reach. We’ll continue to field modular pump, fuel, and water tank racks to increase the speed of theater distribution to the tactical point of contact. We’ll also continue the operational test demonstration of the Leader-Follower autonomous distribution capability at the Joint Readiness Training Center with the 41st PLS Company and ultimately field this capability to our divisionally aligned composite truck companies.
We’ve modernized platform diagnostic capabilities in armored brigade combat teams with the fielding of the Next Generation Automotive Test Set and improvements made to ruggedized maintenance support devices. To maintain this momentum, we’ll continue to modernize maintenance systems at the point of contact over the next five years – such as the Armament Repair Shop Set and Fire Suppression Refill System.
Finally, efforts to achieve a resilient and integrated sustainment mission command architecture with the fielding of modernized enterprise business systems (EBSs) and the next generation Combat Service Support Very Small Aperture Terminals, as well as efforts to embed sustainment analytic decision tools into the CPCE, will help sustainment commanders coordinate and synchronize sustainment effects.
Focused on the future, the sustainment warfighting function continues to pursue transformational capabilities to achieve integrated, persistent, and agile connected logistics from the forward tactical edge to the strategic support area while contested in every domain. We are setting conditions for autonomous and semi-autonomous aerial, ground, and sea-based distribution capabilities, and hybrid electrification and demand reduction efforts, ensuring timely, critical modernization to enable deception and maintain the scale and tempo of future operations.
Initiatives such as the Common Tactical Truck—representing a consolidation of our current heavy truck platforms—will leverage best commercial practices, lower procurement costs, and operationalize technologies such as Prognostic and Predictive Maintenance Logistics (PPMxL), advanced driver assistance systems, and autonomous-enabled solutions to support MDO. Furthermore, investments in tactical power, food, and water sources will reduce demand and increase operational endurance across the battlefield.
Are there any anticipated DOTMLPF-P shortfalls or challenges that still need to be addressed before 2028?
Donahue: I’ll highlight a couple of the activities we are working on at CASCOM right now.
As the Army transitions to the Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model, the sustainment enterprise must continue to modernize at the same pace as our division-centric brigade combat teams. We are closely nested with HQDA G3 and FORSCOM to define the sustainment equipment modernization requirements within the model’s parameters.
Under the current fiscal environment, we cannot afford to fully field every sustainment unit with modernized equipment. Some units may only receive training sets and will be directed to divest legacy equipment. This will require changes in our readiness reporting policies to align with a reduction of equipment on a unit’s MTOE without reducing the manpower needed to perform the unit’s wartime task when they fall in on Army pre-positioned equipment in theater.
We need to maintain total force integration with our Reserve Component (RC) partners and align units with war plans to meet early entry sustainment requirements. Efforts to mobilize RC units for the Defender Series are critical to ensuring shared awareness and understanding of mission requirements and the readiness of early entry units across the total force.
Finally, we must train to sustain the warfighter in a disconnected environment. Efforts to drive the modernization of our EBSs, integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and build depth and resiliency in our sustainment tactical network are necessary to sustain the warfighter in contested domains.
How do your roles as both the 56th QMG and the CASCOM DCG for modernization align and differ?
Donahue: As the 56th QMG and commandant of the Quartermaster School (QMS), I am responsible for capability development and the integration of doctrine, force structure, training, leader development, and materiel solutions for the Quartermaster Corps. I am also focused on the personnel life cycle management and career development for all 92-series MOSs. Finally, QMS serves as the Army’s executive agent on behalf of HQDA G4 for the Army Food Program, the Culinary Arts Program, the Enlisted Aide Program, the Supply Excellence Program, Bulk Fuel Operations, and Mortuary Affairs. As the CASCOM DCG for modernization, I primarily focus on capability development and materiel solutions for the entire sustainment enterprise. In addition, we’re fully nested with the Army’s cross-functional teams and the 31+4 modernization initiatives to ensure future sustainability on the battlefield. The myriad of sustainment initiatives (PPMxL, robotics, AI, point of need production, etc.) will converge at Waypoint 2028 to catapult us into the future with unprecedented velocity and capability realization. Both roles are aligned in the capability and materiel development arena and allow us to pursue our senior sustainment leaders’ major initiatives and set budgetary and programmatic conditions now for the Aimpoint Force of 2035. As the 56th QMG, they differ in that I mainly focus on training and development while serving as a critical proponent for more than 110,000 Quartermaster Soldiers across the total force and our HQDA G4-directed missions.
The Army of 2028 and 2035 will look radically different than that of today. What advice do you have for our young Soldiers that will join the ranks over the next decade?
Donahue: Gen. Colin Powell once said, “A dream doesn’t become a reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” As we transform our Army over the next decade, hard work and dedication are absolute requirements. We’re currently working in support of the CAC to reimagine our organizational sustainment designs to support new divisional concepts. We’re placing big bets on new technology such as AI and production capabilities at the point of need to speed up decision-making and reduce our reliance on sustainment distribution. We’re changing our doctrine for MDO while updating our programs of instruction for IET to meet the demands of the future battlefield. The list goes on to ensure we’re modernizing the sustainment enterprise for competition, conflict, or crisis.
What is our sustainment modernization way ahead for 2035 and beyond?
Fogg and Donahue: First, we remain synchronized with the efforts of CAC to redesign our organizations to support Joint Forcible Entry, penetration divisions, division artillery and cavalry, and the lethal and mobility brigade combat teams. With AFC-Sustainment, the Joint Staff, and HQDA G4, we are progressing the Joint Concept of Contested Logistics (JCCL). We have spent significant time with AFC-Sustainment drafting the Army Functional Concept for Sustainment (AFC-Sustainment), which is nested with the JCCL, the Waypoint 2028 force requirements, and our science and technology (S&T) priorities. Those S&T priorities fall within six critical sustainment components of: (1) analytic decision tools/diagnostic, prognostics, and integrated data, (2) advanced power solutions/energy logistics, (3) alternative water solutions, (4) additive manufacturing, (5) autonomous resupply, and (6) ammunition. Our activities in these areas include efforts on demand reduction, such as hybrid and fully electric vehicles, Army alternate energy solutions, and application of AI, and enhanced distribution capabilities. We continue to work with our partners to gain incremental efficiencies in the near- and mid-terms while pursuing revolutionary technological advances to meet long-term requirements. Ultimately synchronized investment in, experimentation with, and developing these capabilities will revolutionize how we fight and support the future MDO battlefield.
In closing, people remain our top priority—leading Soldiers with a people-first mentality will remain central to winning. As Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, our 37th Chief of Staff of the Army and 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested, every leader needs to lead with “a warrior’s heart, an immigrant’s optimism, and a servant’s soul.” While sustainment warfighting prowess will always be critical, we must continually lean into our shared Army values—use your head, yet follow your heart; ensure diversity and inclusion; be vulnerable and “take off your armor;” take risks; and promote trust. If we commit to this, we can ensure our teams will sustain the warfighter as we modernize.
Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg completed his tour as commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command in July 2021. Fogg has served in various positions, including the commander of the 13th Expeditionary Support Command and Quartermaster General. He currently serves as deputy chief of staff for logistics and operations of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.
Brig. Gen. Michelle K. Donahue serves as the 56th Quartermaster General since May 2020, after serving the Army for 25 years in varying positions, most recently in HQDA, G-8, and as commander of the 16th Sustainment Brigade. She is responsible for the professional military education of more than 20,000 Soldiers, civilians, and members of other services and nations annually.
This article was published in the July-Sept 2021 issue of Army Sustainment.