For most of the last 20 years, the U.S. Army has been consistently engaged in conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. The resulting tempo significantly changed how tactical units executed maintenance and supply operations. Sustained conflict in the Middle East required units to leave equipment at their home station in the left-behind equipment program while using theater-provided equipment upon arrival in the theater. This structure forced units to employ contracted solutions to maintain equipment readiness. The end of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with the Department of Defense budget cuts, has led to the elimination of contract maintenance solutions for tactical units. However, the over-reliance on contract maintenance for more than twenty years atrophied fundamental maintenance and supply skills and processes at the tactical level of sustainment. Tactical units must reestablish fundamental maintenance operations to regenerate the garrison and field maintenance skills that directly impact readiness before the next global conflict. To combat this atrophy and get back to the basics regarding maintenance and supply operations fundamentals across the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command (8th TSC) has implemented the theater sustainment review and analysis (TSR&A).
Theater Sustainment Review & Analysis
The 8th TSC TSR&A was established in fiscal 2020 by Maj. Gen. David Wilson, commander of the 8th TSC, to gain greater visibility of materiel management and operational readiness across the Indo-Pacific theater. A review and analysis is not a new concept. This function was a key activity performed by the corps and division material management centers—corps support commands (COSCOM) and division support commands (DISCOM)—originating from the Army of Excellence circa the 1980s. When the Army moved to a modular structure with the brigade combat team becoming the unit of action, the material management centers of COSCOM and DISCOM were changed. Leaning on this history, the 8th TSC Distribution Management Center established the TSR&A and identified a myriad of issues across the theater with materiel management and operational readiness. After close examination, all issues could be traced back to the atrophy of basic materiel and maintenance operations at the tactical level by maintenance and supply managers.
The 8th TSC hosts a quarterly TSR&A to assess the theater’s sustainment unit readiness and materiel management. Each unit is measured against Department of the Army (DA) standards using metrics that assess readiness and materiel management performance. The TSR&A leverages the Global Command and Control System-Army data analytics to enable strategic sustainment leaders and organizations to “see themselves.” The data analysis of materiel management and readiness trends across the theater enables the sustainment community to track performance and modify behaviors while simultaneously improving readiness across the Indo-Pacific area of operations (AOR). The TSR&A also is used to identify areas where the material enterprise can be leveraged to address trends negatively impacting readiness. Highlighting problem areas and opportunities for improvement during this forum offer insight into how the sustainment enterprise can proceed with future investments, initiatives, and decision-making at the strategic level. Lastly, the TSR&A serves as a platform to educate the sustainment community through a unified community of practice approach. Since the establishment of the TSR&A, there has been a continuous improvement in materiel management and readiness within the Indo-Pacific theater.
Theater Sustainment Review & Analysis Structure
The TSR&A is a deliberate approach to improve materiel management and readiness across the theater. It is executed quarterly to allow time to measure the effects of changes to processes after implementation. The audience for the forum includes senior leaders from strategic enabling commands, along with unit warrant officers who provide expertise in maintenance and supply operations. The data analysis provides a comprehensive view of materiel management and readiness by analyzing maintenance and supply data trends across several key areas, including fleet readiness, equipment divestment, supply support activity performance metrics, and special topics.
Fleet Readiness Review
During the TSR&A, fleet readiness is reviewed to identify the operational readiness of critical fleets. The Enterprise Materiel Status Reporting (EMSR) and Daily Status Report examine ground and aviation fleet readiness using data analytics tools. The data is compiled monthly by regional maintenance managers and enables sustainment leaders to quickly assess operational readiness rates based on fleet trends and equipment availability. The EMSRs are displayed during the TSR&A, providing sustainment leaders fully mission capable (FMC) line items number (LINs) and non-mission capable (NMC) LINs, in a commonly understood color status of green, amber, red, and black. FMC ground and aviation fleets are depicted in green, while NMC fleets are reflected in amber, red, or black. Aviation fleets are considered “broken” when the equipment readiness rate falls below the DA readiness goal of 75%, and ground fleets are considered “broken” when the equipment readiness rate falls below the DA goal of 90%. The TSR&A is designed to highlight LINs that do not meet DA readiness standards and identify the causality of faults among “broken” LINs and reoccurring trends.
During the fleet readiness review, LINs are analyzed, focusing on maintenance drivers, work orders, and common trends. Maintenance drivers fall into two categories: scheduled or unscheduled maintenance. Maintenance managers can analyze work orders and distinguish between those requiring high priority and non-priority repair parts. This data aggregation enables maintenance managers to identify fleet trends and recommended solutions to improve readiness. The TSR&A identified common trends negatively impacting readiness within the Pacific theater—long-lead-time parts, equipment availability constraints, the effects of inclement weather, and coastal duty locations in Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam.
Fleet readiness improvement requires units to dedicate time to execute basic maintenance and materiel functions and aggressive management of maintenance operations. The examination of fleet readiness through the TSR&A identified that long lead-time parts consistently impact ground engineer equipment readiness, which is being addressed at the enterprise level. Additionally, the review identified opportunities to improve readiness rates through proper preventive maintenance checks and services, reporting, and deliberate installation of parts on hand. Since implementation, the 8th TSC has seen an overall decline in failed LINs by 22 from the previous quarters due to the implementation of practices discussed during the TSR&A.
The TSR&A also examines equipment divestiture and re-distribution across the Pacific. The equipment divestiture status in the Pacific is measured against the DA equipment divestiture goal to ensure alignment with the Total Equipment Management Strategy (TEMS) program established by Army Materiel Command (AMC) in fiscal 2020. The TEMS was introduced to accelerate the removal of excess and obsolete equipment as the Army prepares to modernize through the Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model (ReARMM). During the TSR&A, maintenance managers and sustainment leaders analyze divestiture of excess metrics, property management, and future fielding requirements. The Army currently has more than 700,000 pieces of excess equipment, negatively impacting the ReARMM mission and making equipment divestment a key focus during the TSR&A.
The TEMS tracker is reviewed during the TSR&A. It provides sustainment leaders a snapshot of projected and completed divestments for each unit assigned to the U.S. Army Pacific. Unit divestment activity requires continuous monitoring, and including this topic in the TSR&A has increased divestment activity quarter over quarter across all regional units. The special emphasis placed on achieving 100% divestment of excess and obsolete equipment is critical to successful new equipment fielding. It enables commanders to focus manpower and funding on maintaining 100% of the authorized modified table of equipment to maintain combat readiness. Additionally, the TEMS review provides visibility of excess equipment on a valid proposed sourcing decision. It enables units to increase readiness through equipment redistribution within their commands and the Army.
The TSR&A also examines Modernization and Displacement Repair Site (MDRS) operations within the Indo-Pacific using the Divestiture Fusion Chart. MDRS facilitates the divestment of excess and obsolete equipment across the Army. In fiscal 2021, the Army Material Command established 14 MDRS sites throughout the U.S. to reduce excess equipment at major Army installations. The use of MDRS sites increases readiness by relieving units from the responsibility of preparing and shipping excess and obsolete equipment to Army depots. The review of MDRS activity has generated an increased turn-in of excess equipment across the Indo-Pacific theater since fiscal 2021, especially for “as-is” obsolete items.
Supply Support Activity Performance Metrics and Class IX Material Management
The TSR&A thoroughly examines Supply Support Activity (SSA) performance metrics to ensure maintenance managers and commanders understand the factors impacting readiness rates. During the review, the focus is given to Class IX high priority requests that directly impact readiness metrics, customer wait time (CWT), maintenance significant parts fill rates (MSPFR), and authorized stockage list (ASL) performance are critical metrics that measure readiness through maintenance and supply operations. The figure above identifies the business rules used to evaluate SSA metrics. There are five critical SSA metrics: ZPARK, release strategy, outbound delivery (OBD), post goods issue (PGI), and post goods receipt (PGR). These metrics provide resource managers (commonly S-8, G-8), execution managers (commonly support operations, S-4s), SSA managers, and requesters a mechanism to measure their performance against DA standards. Once educated about the various data points at their disposal, commanders are empowered to actively manage and analyze the metrics generated from their respective areas of responsibility.
The initial 8th TSC TSR&A highlighted the need for a “back-to-basics” approach to improve CWT metrics. It enabled materiel managers and commanders to affect change at the operational level. Commanders were educated on how they can directly influence CWT through education, emphasis, and process establishment. Item managers at AMC can impact OBD through direct responsibility for assigned Army-managed repair parts, management of sources of supply, and maintaining adequate on-hand inventory via distribution to storage sites worldwide. Commanders were informed that OBD is affected by multiple suppliers, distributors, and transportation constraints within the supply chain. Although commanders could not directly affect OBD, they were educated on the process. The review results have been positive, as demonstrated by the theater meeting the Class IX high-priority CWT DA goal (15 days) when it decreased from 21 to 13 days during the 30 days between January and February of 2022. Additionally, we saw improvements across all segments of CWT improved in direct response to commanders’ emphasis on making daily parts pickup, monthly reconciliations of document control registers, and ZPARK management across their formations into battle rhythm events during the same period.
The Theater SSA common operating picture is another data point examined during the TSR&A. It illustrates MSPFR at SSAs across the theater. ASL fill rates are critical to unit readiness and are monitored to ensure the appropriate Class IX is stocked in tactical SSAs to maintain readiness. The DA goal is currently 60%. However, after examining this performance metric during the TSR&A the 8th TSC identified that the Indo-Pacific theater was 2% below the Army goal in fiscal year 2021. After a continuous review of this metric, several units in the Indo-Pacific theater converted to a common authorized stockage list to improve MSPFR.
The analysis of SSA performance metrics during the TSR&A has improved customer requisition accuracy by implementing supply management procedures including, validating requests through monthly reconciliations, revising internal/external standard operating procedures (SOP), maintaining processing velocity, and maximizing available funds execution to improve readiness. The TSR&A is a driving force to promote actionable outputs, education, and visibility to empower materiel managers and commanders to solve supply issues within their organization.
Special topics are discussed during the TSR&A with commands participating in working groups and the council of colonels leading up to the 2-star general officer steering committee. Special topics include the MDRS policies and procedures, End-of-Year ZPARK execution strategy impacts, low-density equipment readiness rates, and theater authorized stockage list review initiatives. Special topics enable commanders to discuss sustainment issues and concerns impacting unit readiness.
The 8th TSCR&A is a forum that provides a deliberate and proactive approach to assist maintenance and materiel managers and commanders in seeing their unit from a materiel management and readiness perspective. The TSR&A can be used in any theater to examine and improve materiel management and operational readiness. Since its implementation, the forum has reinforced the fundamental principles and processes of maintenance and supply operations that have atrophied over the last two decades. The TSR&A has proven to be instrumental in increasing readiness across the Indo-Pacific AOR writ large by leveraging data analytics to inform decisions at the operational and strategic levels. With Wilson’s “get back to the basics” approach, sustainers across the Indo-Pacific theater have changed their mindset by focusing on developing and refining systems, processes, and procedures. As a result, units established processes and procedures through the publication of internal and external SOPs; streamlined reporting timelines for maintenance and supply processes; expedited excess turn-in; decreased CWT and requisition wait time; and enhanced the ZPARK performance, PGI, and PGR, resulting in increased equipment readiness rate across the region. The combined and synchronized effort and command emphasis facilitate regulatory compliance and ensure a readiness posture, enabling units to respond in a crisis and win in conflict.
Maj. Gen. David Wilson is commanding general of the U.S. Army 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii. Previously, he served as Director of Logistics, U.S. Forces Korea/U.N. Command, and Deputy Director of Logistics, Combined Forces Command, in the Republic of Korea. He was the Army's 40th Chief of Ordnance. He is a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, and holds a master’s degree in general administration from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the National Defense University.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Navarro-Morales is the officer in charge for General Supply Office, Support Operations, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii. Previously, he served as senior logistics planner, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickman, Hawaii. Before that, he was the Supply and Services Chief, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. He is a graduate of The American Military University, West Virginia, where he holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
This article was published in the Summer 2022 issue of Army Sustainment.