The Army must develop capabilities while maintaining readiness and balancing modernization priorities to compete and win across all domains. To measure the success of these initiatives at the tactical level, the Army assesses its ability to fight and prevail in large-scale combat operations (LSCO) by combat training center (CTC) rotational exercises. These exercises provide critical feedback to the Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model, the Army’s modernization framework and force generation process, ensuring units are capable and ready to execute LSCO. These exercises allow brigade combat teams (BCTs) to identify shortfalls and capability gaps in the current force structure. CTCs allow rotational training units (RTU) an opportunity to exercise both the Army’s operational concept and operating concepts and validate training progression, standard operating, and troop leading procedures under combat-like conditions.
The Regimental Support Squadron (RSS), 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2CR), is uniquely postured to test various methods, processes, and technologies to increase lethality, enhance operational reach, and demonstrate prolonged endurance within a highly contested environment at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC). The RSS commander, as the sustainment coordinator for 2CR, solves and aggressively works through the unit’s sustainment challenges. We must leverage the whole sustainment enterprise to ensure timely and precise combat service support to all forces. Sustainment commanders must be comfortable leveraging echelon above brigade and other sustainment assets versus controlling sustainment assets.
The Army’s operational concept, Unified Land Operations (ULO), as categorized under Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 3-0, Operations, is the Army’s most current doctrine. The Army’s operating concept, multi-domain operations (MDO), outlined in TRADOC Pamplet 525-3-1 provides guidelines for future force development. There is no better arena to test these concepts than in the controlled environment offered by a CTC. The chief of operations group has the unique capability to adjust training tempo to achieve our training objectives and truly test out tactical sustainment formations.
In the early fall of 2021, the 2CR executed Saber Junction 21 (SJ21), the U.S. Army Forces Europe and Africa-directed annual exercise, which assessed 2CR’s ability to execute Unified Land Operations (ULO) in a joint and combined environment. The unit deployed to JMRC under austere and expeditionary conditions, leveraged and sustained the joint and combined force, and rapidly integrated capabilities across domains. This simple task has huge implications across the sustainment enterprise. The united effort across the sustainment warfighting function must be harnessed and laser-focused toward the single goal of rapidly generating combat power.
Unlike most other BCTs, 2CR does not suffer from the same tyranny of distance when conducting a CTC rotation as continental U.S. (CONUS) based organizations. Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany, is located a short two-hour convoy, about 50 miles from the Hohenfels Training Area (HTA) at JMRC.
Instead of deploying by rail to the CTC, 2CR deploys from Rose Barracks directly into HTA into a combat environment. Despite this advantage, 2CR replicated austere, expeditionary conditions to simulate the challenges Army units can expect under MDO. To replicate expeditionary conditions, 2CR conducted expeditionary reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (eRSOI) just outside Rose Barracks in the Grafenwoehr Training Area (GTA) before executing SJ21.
To execute eRSOI, the RSS established the regimental support area (RSA) in the GTA to imitate theater opening operations and rapidly build combat power. The RSA received commodities and supplies from the existing infrastructure on Rose Barracks and, in turn, established supply points within the RSA to issue Class (CL) I rations, I (B), III (B), IV, V, and VIII. We also leveraged this opportunity to attach additional assets and enable the maneuver units. Our forward support troops (FSTs) passed through the RSA and received supplies, ensuring the supported squadrons deployed with the appropriate stockage levels and unit basic loads. The RSS also deployed a portion of its common authorized stockage listing (CASL). We were unable to deploy the entire CASL as a maneuver squadron, as they were decisively engaged in supporting Operation Allied Refuge/Welcome.
The RSS established key sustainment nodes, including the Role II, forward supply support activity, modular ammunition transfer point, mortuary affairs collection point, the personnel and equipment holding area, and the regimental maintenance collection point all within a highly defendable perimeter.
As the regiment deployed, each FST executed eRSOI. The RSS supplied each FST with their full operational and basic loads: three days of supplies of CL I, 2,800 gallons of water, 10,000 gallons of jet propellant 8(JP8), one load handling system of CL IV, replicated CL V, and echeloned forward a medical evacuation vehicle to each maneuver unit. Due to ammunition transportation restrictions within the European area of responsibility (AOR), each squadron later received force on force CL V blank rounds at HTA. During the eRSOI process, each FST integrated its field trains command post (FTCP) into the RSA.
The FTCP integration during eRSOI ensured that the correct composition of leaders and assets were present at the RSA to ensure mission success. The RSS commander provided the document to regimental and squadron leadership as a descriptive approach to ensure these requirements were communicated. With this information, they can understand the combat service support their FSTs provide to ensure their freedom of action and extended operational reach while in a deployed setting. The RSS commander did not dictate the FTCP composition to each FST, as each squadron has unique operational requirements. For example, the fires squadron and engineer squadron operating in the rear area operated smaller FTCPs as they drew commodities over shorter ground lines of communication. At the same time, the cavalry squadron’s FTCP was comparatively more robust to conduct larger one-time pushes. Early FTCP integration allowed the RSS to synchronize these unique requirements across the sustainment enterprise well before kinetic operations began.
The RSS ensured early communication of SJ21 topics, including FTCP/Combat Trains Command Post (CTCP), through weekly FSTs and support operation (SPO) meetings. These meetings became a weekly battle rhythm event that ensured synchronization and visibility of pertinent topics and logistical issues. The FST commanders talked through their FTCP plans and any concerns for the rotation. These meetings led to the regimental sustainment rehearsal of the concept drill held for regiment and squadron key leaders. At this, SPO planners, FST commanders, and s executive officers (XOs) briefed their internal sustainment plan for the deployment to the regimental commander and squadron commanders. Through this rehearsal, squadrons could vocalize their FTCP/CTCP plans. The brief enabled crosstalk and ensured synchronization across the regiment.
Additional benefits to early integration include the ability for FSTs to integrate into the RSA defensive plan and incorporate into the RSA’s battle rhythm. This action paid dividends, provided predictability to the regiment, and supported squadrons. Each FTCP officer in charge (OIC), whether a headquarters and headquarter’s troop commander or FST XO, received the same direct liaison authorized as the RSS base company commanders at battle update briefs, command update briefs, and logistics synchronization (LOGSYNC). The OICs advocated for their squadron, as they were properly postured to provide the most accurate tactical and logistical updates. They properly identified each squadron’s sustainment requirements and assisted in coordinating resupply. More importantly, we could coordinate across commodities and capabilities as needed. This was also extremely useful for the FTCPs OICs to directly access the SPO and RSS commander.
Sustaining Multinational Operations
Unlike other CTCs, JMRC is the Army’s only Outside CONUS CTC and emphasizes interoperability between multinational partners and allies—a key aspect of MDO. Integrating multi-domain formations is not a new concept in the European Command AOR. The Sabre Junction exercise series occurs biannually and historically incorporates multinational partners and allies into the RTU task organization. This also is an opportunity to exercise the sustainment team’s capability to rapidly integrate and sustain the greater coalition.
2CR routinely executes multinational operations and has a demonstrated understanding of these requirements. During SJ21, 2CR received a Romanian armored infantry company, a Ukrainian motorized infantry company, a United Kingdom light rifle platoon, Lithuanian and Romanian civil-military cooperation and psychological-operations teams into their task organization; however, each multinational formation has varying requirements. The greater demand from our multinational partners were the larger company-sized elements each infantry squadron received, as their consumptions rates were similar to our Stryker formation. We leveraged the Logistics Estimation Worksheet, Quick Logistics Estimation Tool , and historical data to plan for these requirements. Historical data is the most accurate. Properly identifying requirements is paramount. If we failed to identify all the requirements for Task Force (TF) Dragoon properly, the TF would have failed. As the fight progressed, the regimental commander reassigned forces to both maneuver squadrons, ensuring mission accomplishment. This flexibly allowed greater freedom of action and freedom of maneuver, which allowed the regimental commander to seize the initiative; this also highlights the criticality of accurate logistics status, attending daily LOGSYNC, and maintenance meetings.
While each multinational company generally had a similar composition, the sustainment requirements varied, specifically in CL III (B). Multinational units typically utilize diesel fuel #2 (DF2), as their primary fuel source versus the single fuel source JP8 U.S. forces utilize. Sustaining multinational forces requires additional logistical planning considerations. 2CR leveraged prepositioned training fleet M978 for DF2 from JMRC, converted a tank rack module to store DF2, and submitted a request for forces to 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion for a tank and pump unit. More than that, each multinational unit’s consumption rates varied. This variance occurred partly due to the way each unit conducted operations. Sustainers must understand these nuances and plan accordingly. For instance, the Romanian 812th infantry company’s fuel requirement for its Bronetransporter, an eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier, was much higher than the Ukrainian company’s mine-resistant ambush protected equivalent vehicles. Additionally, the Ukrainian’s exercised strict engine discipline by turning off vehicles and conducting mostly dismounted operations. As a rule, when calculating U.S. consumption rates, logisticians account for primary, secondary, cross country, and idle times over a 24-hour period; however, the multination forces calculate fuel burn rates by liters per 100 kilometers. This impact required a change in distribution operations. The Romanians required a dedicated fuel asset to provide fuel every other day. The Ukrainian consumption rate was much lower, which only required fuel can distribution every three days.
Our partnered forces provided their organic CL IX and maintenance support, but RSS provided recovery support and 3D printing support to rapidly return combat systems to the fight. This creative solution returned vehicles to the fight much more expeditiously than waiting for parts not located within the forward CASL .
Tactical logisticians must be prepared for these variances and coordinate appropriately to meet requirements. Similar to early integration of FTCPs, early integration of multinational partners in planning and execution is imperative to identify these requirements.
Revisited Lessons Learned
We will seek to rapidly integrate our coalition partners early in the logistical planning process for future training events. We must fully understand the requirement of our partners, and this understanding extends past equipment and must include how our partners fight. This detailed understanding will facilitate our ability to anticipate requirements. Furthermore, early coordination with each countries’ national support element ensures flexibility and responsive support to the supported multinational partners.
For future exercises, it will be advantageous for the SPO to distribute a checklist of FTCP expectations to provide guidelines for each FTCP OIC to understand their roles and responsibilities. The provided checklist will communicate the tasks required to promote interoperability and prevent miscommunication. With this checklist, FTCPs will have clear guidance and purpose. Equal distribution to regiment and squadron leadership will increase the visibility of FTCPs and emphasis on its accuracy and integration. In our next exercise, the RSS commander will leverage a more prescriptive approach to the capabilities within each of the FTCPs.
We must establish effective knowledge management systems that survive our current tenure. Historically, several units struggle with this effort, but any investment in knowledge management will have an even greater return in the future. This effort will ensure longer memories and reduce the rapid loss of critical information tied to our manning cycle.
2CR remains a credible combat force. Its hard-earned reputation exists as a product of completing numerous multinational missions and training exercises conducted in coordination with NATO allies and partnered nations. The result of SJ21 demonstrated 2CR’s ability to fight and prevail in ULO, while incorporating emerging aspects of MDO. The common denominator to ensure tactical success is the sustainment warfighting function’s ability to ensure freedom of action by extending operational reach and prolonging endurance. 2CR achieved this through the early integration of the FTCPs and multinational partners during the eRSOI process. The multinational component should have integrated sooner through multinational sustainment operational planning teams; providentially, there was no shortfall in sustainment support due to the responsiveness of the sustainment enterprise.
Lt. Col. Christopher M. Richardson serves as the commander of the Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College, Joint Professional Military Education II, and Advanced Navigation Operations.
Maj. Mark Pijanowski serves as the support operations officer for the Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College.
Command Sgt. Maj. Willie Allen serves as the senior enlisted leader for the Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. He is a graduate of the Sergeant Major Academy Class 68.
This content is published online in conjunction with the Winter 2022 issue of Army Sustainment.