Contingency Sustainment | Deployment Mindset Essential to Success in Expeditionary Sustainment Command

By Col. John (Brad) Hinson and Lt. Col. David AlvarezMay 2, 2023

Parachute riggers assigned to 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command make adjustments to their parachutes at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, June 21, 2022, ahead of an airborne operation on Holland drop zone.
Parachute riggers assigned to 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command make adjustments to their parachutes at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, June 21, 2022, ahead of an airborne operation on Holland drop zone. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Mary Katzenberger) VIEW ORIGINAL

The 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) is the only ESC in the Army aligned to the XVIII Airborne (ABN) Corps, and its mission is to be ready to support deployment operations and overseas named operations while supporting home station requirements. The geographical location of the 3rd ESC is unique because it is the only active ESC on the Atlantic coast, strategically located close to Pope Air Force Base and the Port of Charleston in South Carolina. These two strategic nodes allow the 3rd ESC to immediately support outload operations for the XVIII ABN Corps, 82nd ABN Division, and various units to support planned or emerging operations.

Having to support quick response units, the 3rd ESC leaders developed the mindset to be adaptable as they must be ready to deploy or support the deployment of large-scale combat operations (LSCO) in any theater at a moment’s notice. Having a deployed operational mindset ensures sustainment leaders are ready to deploy to support LSCO based on the 3rd ESC’s geographic location, its unique sustainment capabilities, and the ability to find materiel solutions for corps commanders.

While some ESCs are more aligned with one operation plan (OPLAN) or theater, the 3rd ESC must be ready to support and deploy anywhere in the world. In addition, to support LSCO and overseas operations, the 3rd ESC also must be ready to support the Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) and Northern Command with declared emergencies while working with agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of State, the Red Cross, and other intergovernmental and non-governmental agencies. The East Coast is directly at risk during hurricane season, and the 3rd ESC stands ready to support with troop transport and water purification capabilities. In 2017, this command established a unified effort with FEMA and DSCA leaders to support relief operations for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in Puerto Rico. In 2010, 3rd ESC deployed to Haiti to support earthquake relief packages and assumed the role of a joint logistics command while supporting over 18,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. This unique ESC capability for a joint logistics command continues to be studied at Combined Arms Support Command to determine the feasibility and shortfalls for ESC headquarters (HQs) to act as a joint logistics command in an LSCO environment. It is based on all these rapid deployment capabilities and experiences within the 3rd ESC that make the 3rd ESC the critical ESC in the Army to rapidly deploy and establish operations in any theater.

Being located in a strategic geolocation for deployment is unique, but the 3rd ESC has some unique down-trace capabilities and experiences that it also brings to a corps commander. The 127th Quartermaster Company is the only active duty bulk water distribution company in the Army. Its mission is performing bulk water issue and water distribution operations during offense, defense, stability, and DSCA. This unit actively provides bulk water support to combat training center rotations and garrison support and is prepared to support defense chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear response force missions; NATO response forces; hurricane response task forces; and emergent operations under dynamic force employment (immediate response force, crisis response force). This unit comprises reverse osmosis water purification units, a tactical water purification system, and Hippos for water distribution. Based on the unit’s total capability, it can provide up to a maximum of 450,000 gallons of bulk water per day and has a storage capacity of 219,000 gallons. As the Army continues focusing on LSCO, the necessity of setting a theater with immediate bulk water storage and distribution is a vital commodity for our Soldiers in any theater.

Another unique capability of the 3rd ESC under the XVIII ABN Corps is the alignment of the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) (TB(X)). The 7th TB(X) is the only watercraft brigade in the Army and allows the Army to operate user seaports, coastal and inland waterway main supply routes, and theater rail and line haul terminals, allowing for the reception, staging, onward movement, and integration of joint and/or combined forces into a theater. While the 7th TB(X) is directly aligned under the XVIII ABN Corps, the 3rd ESC oversees its readiness, administration requirements, and operational tempo in conjunction with the XVIII ABN Corps. Corps HQ is not authorized or assigned a vessel master warrant officer or Marine Deck Officer (880A) to advise leadership and commanders on how best to utilize Army watercraft systems (AWSs). The technical and tactical expertise for AWS falls under the 3rd ESC support operations shop, ensuring the readiness, administration, and best military advice to the ESC commanding general and the corps commanding general. The 3rd ESC is the only ESC in the active Army that assists and engages daily on AWS challenges to increase the AWS readiness within the Army. These experiences and ties with the AWS enterprise make the 3rd ESC the best command to support Indo-Pacific Command and other combatant commands with AWS.

The 953rd Theater Petroleum Center (TPC), which serves as the senior petroleum advisor to geographic and functional combatant commands, is another unique capability under the 3rd ESC. The 953rd TPC is aligned under the 3rd ESC during garrison operations and co-located in the ESC HQ at Fort Liberty, North Carolina. The purpose of this organization is to build theater bulk petroleum readiness for theaters while validating theater concept of support plans and their OPLANs. By being aligned under the 3rd ESC, this command has greater insights into the strategic petroleum problems and solutions to set theaters for LSCO. This unit also allows a direct link from the 3rd ESC to various sustainment partners for DSCA support, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)-Energy, and joint operations to allow commanders better awareness and synchronization of operational and strategic solutions across the bulk fuel enterprise.

Ensuring the readiness of all separate XVIII ABN Corps divisional and corps units during deployed and home station operations necessitated the creation of a corps materiel readiness center (CMRC) to ensure the materiel solutions for XVIII ABN Corps. In July 2022, the command established the 3rd ESC CMRC to find materiel solutions with the sustainment enterprise of all corps units located at Fort Drum, New York; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Eustis, Virginia; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Liberty, North Carolina; and various other locations. In the past, ESCs rarely supported units outside of their garrison home station. Based on the 3rd ESC commander’s philosophy, the CRMC actively communicates and finds readiness solutions for the 101st Air Assault, 10th Mountain, and 3rd Infantry Divisions, despite not being located at Fort Liberty.

The CMRC comprises maintenance and materiel subject matter experts to help identify corps-level trends and problems in order to find materiel solutions for units. While working with the Army field service brigade and DLA, the CMRC actively identifies long lead time part challenges so the sustainment enterprise can provide alternate solutions or adjust strategic priorities to support priority units for deployed operations. The CMRC supply and service teams conduct causative research across the Army at the Plant 2000 and 2001 locations to find parts for these priority units. Examples of success include medium tactical vehicle tires being shipped from Kuwait, transfer of a part from a National Guard Plant 2001 shop stock in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and working with corps staff to improve additive manufacturing capabilities for long lead time parts. In addition to finding solutions for materiel readiness, the CMRC advises and finds solutions for all other commodities to allow units to make informed sustainment decisions regarding Class I, Class IB, Class IIIB, Class V, operational contract support, human resources operations branch, and mobility support operations. The CMRC is a critical asset for ensuring the corps is ready to deploy and support combatant commands across the globe while also finding materiel solutions at home station.

The 3rd ESC is the premier operational sustainment command that is ready to deploy to support the XVIII ABN Corps commander and combatant commands with synchronized sustainment operations in a forward-deployed theater. As the only ESC aligned to the Army’s “Contingency Corps,” the 3rd ESC has unique attributes and capabilities, ensuring lethality is quickly delivered to any theater conducting reception, staging, onward, and integration operations and continued offensive operations. For our Army to be ready for these operations, ESCs must ensure they provide materiel solutions to corps commanders while linking the strategic sustainment enterprise to the forward deployed commander’s operational requirements. Further doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities changes will continue shaping how the 3rd ESC will be better prepared to support OPLANs and emerging operations for combatant commands.


Col. John B. Hinson serves as the commanding general of the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command at Fort Liberty, North Carolina. He previously served as the brigade commander for 528th Special Operations Sustainment Brigade (Airborne), 1st Special Forces Command; the chief of staff, Installation Management Command, Army Materiel Command, Fort Sam Houston, Texas; J-4, NATO Special Operations Component Command/Special Operations Joint Task Force, Afghanistan; battalion commander, 725th Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. He attended the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy Senior Service College. He holds a master’s degree from the Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, a Master of Science in national security and resource strategy from the National Defense University, and a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

Lt. Col. David Alvarez serves as the support operations officer of the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command at Fort Liberty, North Carolina. He previously served as the battalion commander of the 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion (DSSB), 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Fort Stewart, Georgia, and in staff positions on the joint staff J-4, Combined Arms Support Command, Quartermaster School and the commander of the 87th DSSB. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tulane University, a master’s degree in strategic studies from Marine Corps War College – Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia, and a certificate as a Demonstrated Master Logistician from The International Society of Logistics.


This article was published in the Summer 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.


Army Sustainment homepage

The Current issue of Army Sustainment in pdf format

Current Army Sustainment Online Articles

Connect with Army Sustainment on LinkedIn

Connect with Army Sustainment on Facebook