FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Project Convergence 22 provided leaders an opportunity to test new technologies including sustainment capabilities that empower a Sensor to Shooter to Sustainer loop and back again, creating a data loop that enables informed decision making at echelon.
“Speed, range and convergence will give us the advantage we need as the characters of war changes,” said the Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville at the PC22’s demonstration day for scenario B at the Fort Irwin, California, Nov. 9. “Before we talked about interoperability and how will we interoperate but now we want to be integrated from force to force at the speed of relevance at the time. That’s what will give us the capabilities that we need.”
To meet future readiness requirements, sustainment leaders used PC22 as an opportunity to experiment with technologies designed to extend and sustain operational reach in a contested environment, including decision advantage through predictive logistics, autonomous resupply, production at the point of need, joint maritime operations, advanced power and energy solutions and medical technologies. These experiments took place over two primary scenarios — A: which simulated a maritime threat in the Indo-Pacific region, and B: which simulated a land-based threat in the European region.
“When you employ all these together you really understand that they are linked in terms of the effects that they deliver,” said Gen. Ed Daly, commanding general for the Army Materiel Command and the Army’s senior sustainer. “Production at the point of need, juxtaposed with distribution capabilities in unmanned air and ground systems as well as watercraft, while adding in an understanding of predictive logistics with data management and it really demonstrates the ability to sustain readiness and extend operational reach, freedom of action and prolonged endurance in the battlespace.”
One of the many technologies experimented on was the Army’s Sustainment Planning Tool, or SPT, which was able to generate optimized distribution plans 120 to 160 times faster than staff personnel.
“In addition to the speed it offers, the tool is able to dynamically reprioritize units and commodities in stride, an important attribute given the fast-paced and lethal environment,” said Col. March Callis, director of the Sustainment Capabilities Development Integration Directorate. “When we consider that data flowed from the sensor to the shooter to the sustainer and back, we can begin to realize the promise this technology holds in turning data into actionable information that significantly shortens the commander’s decision cycle.”
The decision dominance provided by predictive logistics is about supporting the warfighter with sustainment ahead of need, ensuring situational understanding that enables precise, accurate and timely decision making by leaders at echelon, said Lt. Gen. Charles Hamilton, Army G-4.
“Sustainment is a warfighting function in the Army, and we cannot have a 21st century Army maneuver force without a 21st century sustainment tail to support it,” said Hamilton. “We are talking precision and predictive logistics because we have to get it right at the point of need and it has to be anticipated because we have limited distribution capabilities.”
In addition, sustainers exercised technology to enable production at the point of need to reduce demand on the distribution chain and increase our ability to generate combat power and maintain operational momentum.
“For the first time ever, the U.S. Army successfully printed a repair part for the U.K. which was then installed on U.K. equipment to maintain readiness,” said Callis, remarking that this built on 3D printing successes from scenario A.
This integration with partner and allied forces is a key piece to PC22, a U.S.-hosted all-service and multinational experiment designed to improve future force interoperability and readiness, where members of the British and Australian militaries both participated in the experiment.
“I believe that the Army has a huge role to play in the future fight whether it’s in the European or Indo-Pacific theater,” said Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth. “We obviously have a tremendous role in terms of providing sustainment.”
Wormuth has called the Army the foundational logistics provider to the joint force and said it will serve as the backbone to distribute supplies, munitions and fuel, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.
Throughout scenario B, sustainers focused on the ability to extend and sustain operational reach in a contested environment, ensuring decision dominance and putting the Army on a sustainable strategic path, said Hamilton.
“In the last 20 plus years, in many cases we’ve gone uncontested in Iraq and Afghanistan but we know that will not be the case with large scale combat operations,” said Hamilton. “We have to think through all the different ways the adversary can contest our logistics, because not only do we support the Army, we support all the joint force as well and if the adversary can eventually stop us they will slow down our whole force’s momentum.”