Sustaining the warfighter across the Indo-Pacific region

By Maj. Matthew Diaz , I Corps Public AffairsFebruary 7, 2023

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — America's First Corps is the Army's operational headquarters in the Indo-Pacific region. The corps' area of responsibility is vast. The region contains 65 percent of the world's ocean surface and 25 percent of its land mass. Time and distance are crucial planning considerations for the corps’ sustainment warfighting function as it maintains its readiness to conduct Unified Land Operations West of the International Date Line.

A Joint Logistics Environment

The Indo-Pacific theater requires planning at the strategic and operational levels of the Joint Force. U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General, Gen. Charles Flynn, emphasizes the Indo-Pacific as a "joint theater" and the need for “joint interdependence.” In order to sustain Unified Land Operations as part of joint operations, Joint Logistics must be conducted with multiple services being involved in the process.

Joint Logistics requires complex and integrated logistics operations that involve the "total force" commitment of the Department of Defense and interagency partners. Any major operations or campaigns will involve the deployment and sustainment of large combat forces into austere and contested environments across the Indo-Pacific.

Joint Publication 4-0, Joint Logistics outlines essential elements for Joint Logistics such as expeditionary capabilities and technology and communications. I Corps and its sustainment enablers continue to experiment and refine systems across their formations to project synchronized sustainment capabilities and align with these essential elements.

I Corps commanding general, Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson speaks to unit commanders and staff during the Annual Stryker Leaders Summit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Jan. 10 2022.
I Corps commanding general, Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson speaks to unit commanders and staff during the Annual Stryker Leaders Summit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Jan. 10 2022. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Joshua Oh) VIEW ORIGINAL
I Corps C2

Over the past two years, I Corps developed a framework for providing command and control, or C2, through rapidly deployable, scalable and highly integrated headquarters elements called Distributed Command and Control Nodes, known as DC2N.

The I Corps Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson said, "As we apply the capabilities from our headquarters to the problem set of contested multidomain operations, our command and control capability must be distributed agile and resilient."

The ability to provide sustainment C2 as part of DC2N operations, starts with the G4 staff section. This section maintains visibility of logistics operations, assets and planning in accordance with their warfighting function.

“The G4 provides corps-level planning and sustainment priorities in support of the [Joint Task Force],” said Col. Daniel Duncan, I Corps assistant chief of staff, G4. The section is essential for maintaining that real time visibility and planning of logistics in order to inform the commander's decision-making process.

“Due to the distance and non-contiguous geographical nature of the region, the corps is concentrating on a concept called ‘long-range precision sustainment,’” Col. Duncan said. This includes maintaining lines of communication that involve air, maritime, and land distribution operations connecting strategic sustainment assets in the continental United States to the warfighter accomplishing the mission on the front line.

Long-range precision sustainment requires sustainment planning factors called “estimates” that program the materiel and assets the corps needs to fight and win. Through the DC2N concept, the I Corps G4 maintains the survivability and flexibility for the corps and its enablers to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the corps’ sustainment warfighting function during large-scale combat operations.

U.S. Army Pacific commanding general, Gen. Charles Flynn, and 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command commanding general, Brig. Gen. Martine Kidd discuss best practices in sustainment warfighting functions during Warfighter 23-01 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Oct. 2, 2022.
U.S. Army Pacific commanding general, Gen. Charles Flynn, and 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command commanding general, Brig. Gen. Martine Kidd discuss best practices in sustainment warfighting functions during Warfighter 23-01 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Oct. 2, 2022. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Joshua Oh) VIEW ORIGINAL
Sustainment C2

The 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command serves as the primary sustainment enabler that extends the operational reach of I Corps and provides C2 for joint forces, coalition forces and civil authorities in any given theater. The command serves as the main sustainment asset to I Corps on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the only force projection hub on the U.S. West Coast. Through synchronized efforts with the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and the 404th Army Field Support Brigade, 593rd ESC uses air, rail and seaports in the Seattle-Tacoma area to deploy units to all corners of the Indo-Pacific.

The command’s key tasks include integrating "total force" partners into the command's support operations in support of I Corps efforts in "setting the theater," supporting the theater opening and executing joint reception, staging, onward movement and integration operations.

As the corps prioritizes a forward presence west of the International Date Line, the command focuses on ensuring the corps’ endurance in those efforts and synchronizing sustainment efforts for future contingency operations.

“We [challenge] the staff through exercises and the ability to plan and integrate with maneuver and protection warfighting functions as it relates to the Joint Force,” said Col. Jason Affolder, 593rd ESC deputy commanding officer. The command emphasizes integrating its headquarters elements into multinational and bi-lateral exercises such as Operation PATHWAYS in order to further experiment and apply their C2 systems in support of the corps’ DC2N concept.

"Expanding knowledge of joint and multinational forces will enable us to operate in a multi-domain environment," said Col. Affolder.