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Soldiers and Marines embark a U.S. Marine Fire Direction Center with Battery R, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, onto Logistics Support Vessel-4 Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, 8th Theater Sustainment, at Kin Red Beach Training Area Oct. 31, 2020. Orient Shield 21-1 is the largest U.S. Army field training exercise in Japan that tests and refines multi-domain operations.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers and Marines embark a U.S. Marine Fire Direction Center with Battery R, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, onto Logistics Support Vessel-4 Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, 8th Theater Sustainment, at Kin Red Beach Training Area Oct. 31, 2020. Orient Shield 21-1 is the largest U.S. Army field training exercise in Japan that tests and refines multi-domain operations. (Photo Credit: Maj. Elias M. Chelala) VIEW ORIGINAL

A geographic combatant command (CCMD) has many responsibilities and authorities that must be exercised to address joint gaps to solve the complex battlefield geometry CCMD’s will inevitably face during large-scale conflict. Each CCMD has unique challenges that require joint solutions and resources to ultimately support our governmental leadership’s guidance derived from the National Defense Strategy (NDS). Logisticians at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) face several unique challenges to the theater, including the tyranny of distance. Using authoritative documents such as the USINDOPACOM Theater Campaign Plan and Theater Posture Plan, the J4 team is driven to anticipate joint requirements with sustainers from the CCMDs and Joint Logistics Enterprise (JLENT) to identify solutions and advocate for resources. Defining the logistics problem in the USINDOPACOM theater and providing solutions through the commander’s decision cycle is difficult and requires a deliberate approach that includes perspectives from every branch of service. To ensure joint equities are considered, and unity of effort is achieved in sustainment operations, the J4 must coordinate with CCMDs, Sub-unified commands, and directorates internal to the USINDOPACOM staff, and leverage reserve augments, maintain a dynamic logistics common operating picture (LOGCOP), and build and sustain partnerships in the Indo-Pacific.

Coordinating Responsibility

The J4’s coordinating responsibilities enable the J4 staff to work with CCMDs and sub-unified commands to identify requirements and, if necessary, prioritize resourcing from the JLENT. This prioritization occurs most frequently in a time of crisis. In steady-state operations, the Pacific sustainment team works together to support the theater posture plan to ensure requirements will be met at the time of need. During a staff academics session at USINDOPACOM, the J4, Brig. Gen. Jered P. Helwig was asked, “when does setting the theater begin?” He responded, “We are setting the theater now.” His point has resonated with the staff and logistics experts across the Pacific. Logisticians understand, given the tyranny of distances and limited organic movement assets, that resourcing requirements must happen now to mitigate the risk of culmination or mission failure. Furthermore, the J4’s coordinating responsibilities enable the elimination of redundancy to achieve economy and unity of effort when setting the theater.

Boards, Bureaus, Centers, Cells, and Working Groups

As mentioned above, identifying and advocating for resources requires a deliberate approach. The process used in joint commands is formerly known as Bureaus, Boards, Centers, Cells, and Working Groups (B2C2WGs), not to be confused with a Star Wars droid. The B2C2WGs have specific inputs, outputs, and participants that are defined and approved by the USINDOPACOM chief of staff. Most recently, USINDOPACOM had more than 40 approved B2C2WGs to ensure the outputs and frequency support the commander’s decision cycle. The J4’s major boards are the logistics coordination board and the joint movement board. Multiple staff directorates and JLENT experts participate in the B2C2WGs and provide the critical inputs required for the J4 to prioritize efforts and mitigate joint gaps. The B2C2WG’s, or cross-functional events, enable the J4 to synchronize sustainment at the CCMD level and identify shortfalls to communicate to the joint staff for resource consideration.

Total Force Policy

The Army’s Total Force Policy describes the integration and use of the Reserve and National Guard forces into the operational force. The Army understands it takes the efforts of the entire force to fight in full-spectrum operations with a near-peer enemy. Following the Army’s lead, Helwig charged his staff to integrate our reserve augments—which includes Navy detachments, Army, and Air Force individual mobilization augmentees—during steady state. The integration through multiple training events on drill weekends, video conferencing, and informal touchpoints mitigates the learning curve when mobilized. In the past, integration was focused on exercise preparation. Although still an important element of the integration plan, the focus has expanded to ensure our reserve partners are a part of everyday operations and understand the ongoing logistical efforts in the theater. The time and resources required to maintain a “one team” policy far outweighs the cost of mobilizing and integrating an untrained and unaware force during a crisis. Additionally, many members of the reserve detachments have served in USINDOPACOM longer than most of the active force and bring valuable experience that bridges the knowledge gap during the active component transition. In a recent exercise at USINDOPACOM, Detachment 401—one of USINDOPACOMs assigned Navy detachments—provided insights to new leadership that proved valuable in shaping the desired outputs of the exercise. The J4 team understands that logistics synchronization is vital to any operation and in the largest theater of operations it will take all hands on deck to win.

LOGCOP

In any theater of operations, a LOGCOP informs commanders and staff of capabilities in time and space to inform decisions. However, what is often overlooked is what capabilities are lacking or nonexistent. Knowing the former informs the latter, and logistics experts at USINDOPACOM are focused on identifying the gaps for future requirements. What is in place and moving in real-time is important to know, however without forward-thinking on agreements, access, host nation support capabilities, etc., it may be too late to contract or build requirements rapidly as conditions change during a conflict. The LOGCOP provides information on all service capabilities that enables the J4 staff to think joint to dynamically solve sustainment challenges and leverage our partnerships when required.

Partnerships

USINDOPACOM, similar to other geographic CCMDs, strives to build and maintain strong partnerships with nations across the theater. From disaster relief to combat operations, multinational cooperation has been a cornerstone to success in U.S. military operations. The J4 uses key leader engagements (KLE) to build relationships focused on mutual logistics support. In addition to KLEs, the J4 represents USINDOPACOM as a member of the Pacific Area Senior Officer Logistics Seminar (PASOLS). Since the inaugural seminar in 1971, PASOLS has grown from nine to 30 participating countries in 2020. Amidst a pandemic, PASOLS organizers in the J4 Multinational section utilized the Microsoft Teams platform to ensure valuable logistics discussion continued to enhance relationships across the Pacific. Rather than canceling the seminar, logistics leaders seized the opportunity to discuss the regional, national, and worldwide impact on logistics due to COVID-19.

Conclusion

Serving as the Joint Logistics Operations Center Chief at USINDOPACOM has been a humbling and learning experience. Thinking joint and working outside of my comfort zone of Army logistics is not an intuitive process. Understanding the nuances and traditions of each military service has enabled streamlined and effective communication. As a senior mentor instructed, do not be the “Army” guy. Appreciating what each service brings to the fight during large-scale conflict leads to leaders thinking joint. To fully understand the sustainment challenges in the Indo-Pacific and provide solutions or mitigations, all services challenges and capabilities must be considered. Logisticians across the components are laser-focused on supporting their respective commands' mission, and it is incumbent upon the J4 team to look forward and synchronize the joint requirement to ensure the overall mission is successful.

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Maj. Mark A. Yore is currently serving as the Joint Logistics Operations Center chief in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. He has earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a master’s degree in global and international studies from the University of Kansas. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College.

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This article was published in the July-Sept 2021 issue of Army Sustainment.

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