Within a highly competitive environment, we must leverage the whole sustainment enterprise to ensure timely and precise combat service to support all forces. The Regimental Support Squadron (RSS), 2D Cavalry Regiment (2CR) is uniquely postured to test various methods to increase operational reach and prolong endurance within a highly contested environment at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. As the sustainment coordinator for 2CR, I am responsible for solving and aggressively working through our sustainment challenges. We frame the problem as a volume issue, meaning the RSS needs more ample assets and must leverage the entire sustainment enterprise to ensure the right resources are at the right location at the right time. We developed the following problem statement: “How does the RSS deploy and establish the regimental support area (RSA) while defending critical sustainment assets and providing precise, time-sensitive critical combat service support to 2CR?” One such method is the rapid and effective integration of the field trains command post (FTCP) within the RSA.
In March 2021, 2CR deployed to Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, for operation DRAGOON READY 21 (DR21), a shortened combat training center (CTC) rotation that prepped 2CR for our CTC rotation later this year. The RSS deployed with the following mission and commander’s intent:
- Mission. 2CR RSS provides direct and focused logistical support and force health protection for 2CR throughout all phases of the operation to facilitate successful tactical operations and synchronize battlefield circulation within the regiment’s area of operations.
- Commander’s Intent. My intent is to aggressively support and sustain combat operations while preparing the RSA’s logistical assets to support the transition to the following operations. From the onset, the RSA must provide responsive and continuous combat service support to sustain combat power as the regiment executes deliberate and decisive operations. The RSA will provide mutual support to our joint and coalition units on area basics. The support operations (SPO) officer will coordinate directly with the 16th Sustainment Brigade’s SPO officer to synchronize sustainment operations. To support the operation, we will establish an ample supply and medical network. Proper coordination, planning, and preparations will allow the battalion to posture operational and logistics assets for future phases of this operation.
Per Army Techniques Publication 4-90, Brigade Support Battalion, squadrons (SQDNs) supply FTCPs to the RSA to support their combat trains command posts (CTCPs). During the planning process for their deployment, the 2CR SPO section leveraged RSS commander’s guidance and provided a descriptive sustainment geometry that outlined the battle space with the roles and responsibilities required of each command post. It was a holistic picture of a Stryker brigade combat team’s (SBCT’s) sustainment picture used by the SPO to advise forward support troop (FST) commanders and SQDN S-4s on the needs of the FTCP. The descriptive document allowed them the flexibility to model the FTCPs on their tactical mission set and requirements. At a minimum, the FTCP provides a direct link with their SQDN through the CTCP to synchronize sustainment operations for the current and future fight, offers a direct link for RSS commodities and services, and facilitates movement of critical supplies to forward elements. To ensure communication of these requirements, the RSS commander provided the document to regimental and SQDN leadership as a descriptive approach. With this information, they understood the combat service support their FSTs provided to ensure their freedom of action and extended operational reach while in a deployed setting.
The RSS ensured early communication of DR21 topics, including FTCP/CTCP, through weekly meetings between FSTs and the SPO shop. These meetings became a weekly battle rhythm event that ensured synchronization and visibility of pertinent topics and logistical issues. The FST commanders discussed their FTCP plans and any concerns about the rotation. These meetings led to the regimental sustainment rehearsal of concept drill held for regiment and SQDN key leaders. At this, SPO planners, FST commanders, and SQDN executive officers (XOs) briefed their internal sustainment plan for the deployment to the regimental commander and SQDN commanders. Through this rehearsal, SQDNs could vocalize their FTCP/CTCP plans. The brief enabled cross talk and ensured synchronization across the regiment.
Before deployment, the RSS commander also conducted a tactical exercise without troops at the initial site of the RSA with internal staff, SPO section, and FST commanders in attendance. At this event, the team walked through the site where the RSA would be located and discussed the RSS commander’s intent and vision of establishing the RSA with the troops and FTCPs. Organic RSS troop commanders briefed their troop support plans. The distribution troop briefed lift assets on the ground, SSA capabilities, and the fuel and water support plan. The maintenance troop briefed recovery assets, deploying shop stock listing, and the general maintenance plan for items evacuated from the unit maintenance collection points. Charlie troop briefed the ambulance shuttle system, deploying Class VIII (medical supplies), and the patient movement plan. These briefs and the exercise allowed FSTs to understand the task and purpose of the FTCPs.
Upon deployment, FTCPs are integrated into the RSA. The RSS saw a varied response regarding what assets and competencies each SQDN FTCP provided. The two line SQDNs, 3/2CR and 4/2CR, supplied larger FTCPs to allow their CTCPs more freedom of maneuver. Locating more assets with the RSA allowed the SQDNs to move with a lighter load, support extended lines of communication, and increase their operational reach. Each line SQDN supplied their FST XO with a tactical and logistical expert who communicated directly with their respective troops and could anticipate needs quickly. These line SQDNs left fuel systems and internal Class IV packages with their FTCPs with the intention that these assets participate in their logistics packages (LOGPACs) from the RSA. These packages also served as the reserve stock in case the enemy attacked their internal CTCP assets and rendered their systems unusable.
The 2CR Regimental Engineer Squadron (RES) and Field Artillery Squadron (FAS) decided on smaller packages due to their SQDN missions not requiring excessive CTCP movement and requiring heavier movements of Class IV and Class V, respectively. RES needed lift assets forward for the emplacement of obstacles and forward movement of Class IV. They also had a more significant requirement for fuel when conducting defensive operations, as their engineer systems were used for digging and building barriers. For FAS, their batteries required a significant number of lift assets to move their Class V across the battlefield. Due to their high rate of fire and the size of the rounds, FAS’s biggest struggle centered on the need to transport Class V and maintain a unit base load with their FST. FAS attached their munition NCO, an 89B Ammunition Specialist, to their FTCP to ensure Class V accountability and resourcing. This was imperative to the success of FAS Class V resupply.
In addition to their individual and unique carrying requirements, RES and FAS were located in the rear area, closer to the RSA. With less distance to travel, RES and FAS received resupply quicker and did not have to rely on internal assets prepositioned to exchange supplies. They could execute more turns with their CTCPs and be more flexible with LOGPAC schedules.
The FTCPs were significant in the integrity of the RSA. They participated in base defense, with triple strand concertina wire emplacement and support guard duty contributing to the overall defense and participated in SQDN planning meetings. However, the most important job they had was integrating into the SPO. The key role of the FTCP coordinating of logistical operations in support of their CTCP. The most successful FTCPs were the ones who could establish and maintain communication networks with their SQDN S-4s and FST commanders. They attended LOGSYNCs and maintenance meetings, ready to articulate requests with an understanding of their SQDN logistical statuses and operational picture. They followed movements of their SQDN over battle space and time to anticipate needs. Their assets were incorporated into LOGPACs and supplemented RSS internal assets. This was key to ensuring the timely delivery of critical supplies to CTCPs and combat platforms. This gave the RSS commander greater flexibility to support other SQDNs while increasing bulk-holding capabilities. The increase of assets at the RSA also increased survivability for the CTCP, thereby making the CTCP more agile. With a small footprint, the CTCP moved more freely, could increase cover and concealment, and, if attacked, had reserve stocks at the RSA.
The less successful FTCPs were those that did not have well-established communications plans and failed to provide accurate logistics status reports (LOGSTATs) to reflect their CTCP statuses. Unsuccessful FTCPs were unprepared to confirm their resupply requests at LOGSYNCs and did not have the support of their SQDN leadership. This highlighted the SQDN’s need for senior leadership and commander buy-in to ensure synchronization of movement and maneuvering with logistical needs.
For future exercises, it will be advantageous for SPO to distribute a checklist of FTCP expectations to provide guidelines for each FTCP officer in charge to understand their roles and responsibilities. The checklist below clearly communicates the tasks required to promote interoperability and prevent miscommunication. With this checklist, FTCPs will have clear guidance and purpose. Equal distribution to regiment and SQDN leadership will increase 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 of each FTCP. The FTCP general task checklist will include the following:
- Attend daily LOGSYNCH and maintenance meetings with an understanding of their SQDN LOGSTST and SQDN operations.
- Exercise LOGPAC operations with organic FTCP assets; be prepared to integrate organic assets into external LOGPAC.
- Track LOGPAC quantities sent and received, departure times, logistical release point locations, and routes, and validate CTCP receipt quantities.
- Track FTCP assets and movement of internal supplies, including Class I, Class I(B), Class III(B), Class IV, Class V, Class VIII, and Class IX.
- Assist with and ensure the combat configured load and mission configured loads are built properly prior to LOGPAC departure.
- Support and integrate into RSA base defense.
- Support the sustainment planning effort with the SPO.
In conclusion, DR21 demonstrated the importance and need of integrating the FTCPs into the RSA for 2CR. Using the initial guidance provided by the RSS commander in coordination with SPO, FST commanders could determine for themselves and their units the size and capabilities of their FTCP. This exercise allowed the FST commanders to exercise mission command and enabled them to develop their own ideas of what capabilities they would need to provide push and pull logistics for their SQDNs. As 2CR transitions into its upcoming CTC rotation, FTCPs will grow, the RSS commander will increase guidance to FTCP leadership, and logisticians will get successive repetitions in the sustainment enterprise. The planning factor for future FTCPs will increase to 40 to 60 percent of lift assets, maintenance teams, and fuel support located at the RSA to be incorporated in LOCPACs. The RSS commander with SPO will ensure SQDN leadership can provide feedback and input into the future sustainment geometry development and guidance for the purpose of buy-in. This buy-in from all levels of leadership will ultimately help make the regimental sustainment enterprise successful when called upon to sustain the Army’s only forward-stationed SBCT.
Lt. Col. Christopher M. Richardson is currently 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. Phillip Hetteburg is currently the support operations officer for Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College.
Capt. Rebecca Jeffrey is currently the deputy support operations officer for Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. She is a graduate of the Medical Service Officer Basic Course.
Command Sgt. Maj. Willie Allen is currently the command sergeant major for 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 Summer 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.