Soldiers prepare a vehicle for turn-in at the Modernization, Displacement, and Repair Site (MDRS) at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The MDRS is a single location dedicated to receive excess equipment from units. It is the one-stop-shop that receives, accounts for, repairs (if necessary), and conducts necessary onward transfers to gaining units, Army depots, or transfer to the Defense Logistics Agency for equipment disposition.
Soldiers prepare a vehicle for turn-in at the Modernization, Displacement, and Repair Site (MDRS) at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The MDRS is a single location dedicated to receive excess equipment from units. It is the one-stop-shop that receives, accounts for, repairs (if necessary), and conducts necessary onward transfers to gaining units, Army depots, or transfer to the Defense Logistics Agency for equipment disposition. (Photo Credit: Katie Nelson) VIEW ORIGINAL

Over the past century, our Army has made transformative leaps about every 40 years that have required changes in both doctrine and modernized equipment. During World War II, the Army greatly expanded the use of tank warfare and mounted maneuvers. During the Cold War, to off-set the numerical advantages of Soviet forces, the Army developed air-land battle, made possible by modernization in the “Big Five,” consisting of the AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk, M1 Abrams, M2/M3 Bradley, and the Patriot Air and Missile Defense systems. These five systems remain the core of the Army’s decisive operational capability today.

Now, 40 years later, the most recent Army modernization strategy aims to field a force capable of conducting multi-domain operations during each of the three phases of competition, crisis, and conflict, as part of an integrated joint force in a single theater by 2028 and multiple by 2035. Achieving an “Army of 2035” will require major investments in six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, network modernization, air and missile defense, and Soldier lethality.

The Army is poised at the starting line of a much-needed modernization effort, but this must be executed while maintaining its current force posture readiness to meet combatant command (CCMD) requirements. To address this challenge, the Army developed a new force management model that focuses on both modernization and readiness through regional alignments with CCMDs. Gen James C. McConville wrote in an information paper “Army Multi-Domain Transformation” March 16, “The Army cannot transform in a vacuum; we must continue to meet the operational requirements of joint force commanders. The Army’s Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model (ReARMM) is our unit life-cycle model to balance the production of modernized, highly trained, and ready forces for employment.”

In short, ReARMM provides the unit life-cycle management model that balances current demand with modernization. Through this life-cycle model, a unit transitions through three phases: modernization, training, and mission, with each phase structured to last eight months. In the modernization phase, units focus on tasks to receive and integrate new capabilities. During the training phase, units operate these new capabilities as they execute their mission-tailored training at echelon. In the mission phase, units execute various missions ranging from deployments for operations and/or exercises to placement as part of a contingency ready force.

Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model unit life cycle.
Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model unit life cycle. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Graphic) VIEW ORIGINAL

Operationalizing ReARMM from a Sustainment Perspective

Given the level of transformational change required for the Army of 2035, it’s crucial that the Army sustainment community sets the right conditions to ensure continuity of support for ReARMM and Army modernization. The Sustainment Warfighting Function (WfF), executed from the tactical to the strategic level, must support the three principles of ReARMM. Support must be predictable, stable, and synchronized across all enterprises, and sustainment leaders at echelon must focus on three key enabling capabilities: 1) reduce the burden of displacing excess equipment; 2) increase supply chain velocity and accuracy; and 3) establish a strong and enduring culture of maintenance excellence.

Sustainment Enabling Capabilities in ReARMM

Enabling Capability #1: Reduce the burden for displacing excess equipment so units have time to field, train, and integrate new capabilities. To accomplish this, three objectives are crucial during the mission and modernization phases of the ReARMM unit life cycle model:

  • Objective #1: Turn in selected legacy systems outside the continental U.S.(OCONUS) before redeployment
  • Objective #2: Maximize velocity of turn-in at the modernization displacement and repair site (MDRS)
  • Objective #3: Displace legacy systems and associated spares, tools, and test equipment
Enabling Capability #1: Reducing the burden for displacing excess.
Enabling Capability #1: Reducing the burden for displacing excess. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Graphic) VIEW ORIGINAL

Enabling Capability #2: Increase supply chain velocity and accuracy in order to ensure that units are well supported during the training phase of ReARMM. To set conditions for this, the following three objectives will greatly help a unit transition from the modernization to training phase:

  • Objective #4: Common authorized stockage list (CASL) review and change implementation
  • Objective #5: Optimize shop stock to the CASL
  • Objective #6: Initial shop stock fielded as part of new equipment fielding (NEF)
Enabling Capability #2: Increase velocity and accuracy of the supply chain.
Enabling Capability #2: Increase velocity and accuracy of the supply chain. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Graphic) VIEW ORIGINAL

Enabling Capability #3: We must establish a strong and enduring culture of maintenance excellence to ensure that our systems are ready for units navigating through ReARMM:

  • Objective #7: Ensure Soldiers are properly certified to perform preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) and operate the systems
  • Objective #8: Establish robust command oversight
  • Objective #9: Provide reliable and ready access to interactive electronic technical manuals (IETMs) with “How-To” videos
Enabling Capability #3: Establish a strong enduring maintenance culture.
Enabling Capability #3: Establish a strong enduring maintenance culture. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Graphic) VIEW ORIGINAL

Reduce Burden for Displacing Excess Equipment

Excess equipment is a drain on readiness. Like death by a thousand cuts, every piece of excess or obsolete equipment in our formation causes us to bleed out valuable human and fiscal capital needed for the Army’s modernization effort. Our units are struggling under the heavy burden of excess property that has accumulated over decades of conflict. It is absolutely essential to shed this burden in order to clear our motor pools; arms rooms; nuclear, biological, and chemical rooms; and other unit areas of excess and obsolete equipment. Given the relatively narrow eight-month modernization windows in the ReARMM model, we must displace the existing excess faster with a streamlined and hassle-free process that builds velocity and momentum while preserving resources. Forces Command’s (FORSCOM) modernization model requires units to displace excess equipment before total package fielding. Displacement must occur before new equipment training and NEF to unclutter commands so they can focus on integrating new capabilities.

For fiscal 2021 alone, FORSCOM units face an excess displacement requirement of more than 187,000 pieces, equaling a rate of 15,000 pieces or more per month required for turn-in. To address this backlog, our Soldiers and leaders need to take full advantage of the newly established MDRS developed by Army Materiel Command (AMC) in partnership with FORSCOM.

In just six months, AMC established MDRS sites in 14 different installations across the continental U.S. and Hawaii. Each site simplifies equipment turn-in for units by serving as a one-stop-shop regardless of whether the item is destined for an Army depot, a Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) activity, to fill a foreign military sales requirement, or laterally transferred to other units to fill shortages. These sites provide immediate property relief from the losing unit upon turn-in at the site, and the MDRS site can then assume responsibility for executing the final disposition of the excess item, including second-destination transportation. The sites also have the capability to conduct repairs for items that are required to meet 10/20 disposition instructions on a reimbursable basis.

To further increase the maximum velocity of turn-in at MDRS sites, FORSCOM partnered with AMC to coordinate with units' turning in equipment overseas as part of redeployment. For selected legacy systems, the redeploying unit transfers property accountability to AMC before uploading onto redeployment vessels. The equipment then transits it straight to depot bypassing delivery to home station. This reduces the amount of excess to displace at a home station, sets conditions for completing turn-in requirements during the modernization phase, and provides depots with weapon systems that are ear-marked for upgrades.

Additionally, finalizing disposition instructions of all identified excess as early as possible sets the conditions necessary to expedite the entire process. It is essential that units request the disposition of excess equipment during the mission phase so that they can execute turn-in to their supporting MDRS before and during the modernization phase.

Improve Supply Chain Velocity and Accuracy

In 2017, the Army began transforming and standardizing authorized stockage lists (ASLs) into CASLs to ensure that combat units are stocked with the correct maintenance parts to improve supply availability and readiness while ensuring field expedience and mobility. These CASLs undergo an annual re-view process, managed by AMC, to ensure that ASL requirements satisfy unit demand.

Hand in hand with CASL review is unit shop stock optimization, now referred to as—optimized shop stock lists (OSSL). Units must take steps to shape and influence their own readiness by stocking those spares that are critical, in high demand, and reduce non-mission-capable time. For ReARMM, the units should conduct the necessary inventory, demand analysis, and replenishment activities of both CASL and OSSL before the modernization phase to ensure they are fully optimized as new equipment is fielded to the unit.

Lastly, a key component of setting the right supply chain during the modernization phase is the fielding of initial stockage items to a unit’s CASL and OSSL by the program executive office to ensure these stocks have the parts needed to sustain newly fielded systems. They should be fielded as part of each NEF during a unit’s modernization phase in sufficient quantity to meet sustainment requirements for both the training and mission phase of the unit’s life-cycle. Over time, as units rotate through the life-cycle model, initial shop stock requirements would more accurately reflect demand and potentially save cost, as subsequent units field new equipment based on their designated modernization level.

Establish a Strong and Enduring Culture of Maintenance Excellence

In September 2020, FORSCOM created a Ground Readiness, Evaluation, and Assessment Training (GREAT) team to provide oversight and an external review of the maintenance, supply, and deployment programs of brigade combat teams (BCTs). The GREAT team has already conducted five BCT evaluations: two Armored, three Infantry, and one Stryker. The program was further codified in the most recent Army resourcing and synchronization conference where the team evaluations were scheduled for fiscal 2022. To operationalize the GREAT team within ReARMM, these evaluations are targeted to occur during a unit’s modernization phase.

Observed trends from these evaluations are that our operators and crews struggle with identifying deadline faults during PMCS. This is due to an ineffectively-executed PMCS certification program, a lack of operator/crew attention to detail, minimal updated technical manuals on hand, and inconsistent supervisor maintenance and materiel management expertise. Command Maintenance Discipline Programs (CMDP) and Command Supply Discipline Programs (CSDP) are currently lacking and will require focused oversight at every echelon.

Lastly, our Soldiers need better access to IETMs containing more multimedia material, especially “How-To” videos. As the Army executes the most extensive modernization in decades, the complexity of tasks associated with maintaining and operating newly fielded systems will increase significantly for Soldiers. Consequently, Soldiers require better ways to receive and use technical instructions that fully leverage today’s digital information technology. There are some systems-specific tablet solutions (e.g., Stryker Tablet and the M1A2 SEPv3 tablet), but no common device that a Soldier can use to access technical instructions for all systems.

A common operator and crew support device, managed by a designated program manager that supports all Army equipment, will help protect our investment in modernization. This device should be network-enabled to operate in both tactical and garrison environments, and it must interface with the Army’s next converged enterprise business system to wirelessly transmit PMCS data.

For ReARMM, the three objectives of establishing robust CMDP and CSDP programs; certifying Soldiers to PMCS and operate the systems; and ensuring reliable access to IETMs should occur before transition to the training phase.

Conclusion

The Army is poised at the starting line of a truly transformational pace of modernization. How well our units incorporate these new technologies will depend in large part on whether key conditions are set from a sustainment perspective. The sustainment enabling capabilities outlined in this article are conceptual in nature, however, their practical objectives, overlaid across ReARMM phases, will help units successfully navigate across their unit life-cycle phases.

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Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Ryan most recently served as the deputy chief of staff, G-4, at U.S. Army FORSCOM. Ryan has received master’s degrees from the Florida Institute of Technology and the U.S. Army's War College, and is a 1987 graduate of York College, PA.

Col. Jin H. Pak is currently serving as the assistant deputy chief of staff, G-4, for FORSCOM. Pak holds a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government and Joint Advanced Warfighting School, and a bachelor's degree from the United States Military Academy.

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

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