In January 2021, Israel transferred from U.S. European Command to U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM). This strategic shift creates a unique opportunity for the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (1st TSC) that supports the USCENTCOM area of responsibility (AOR). Israel provides a professional sustainment force and critical operational access that offers USCENTCOM sustainment options and another willing partner within the region. Israeli seaports and border crossings contribute to a contiguous AOR from the Mediterranean Sea to the Middle East peninsula, connecting Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. USCENTCOM exercises provide Israeli and U.S. forces with opportunities to build relationships within the theater. Juniper Falcon is a joint, biannual U.S.-Israel rapid deployment and contingency response exercise designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and Israeli militaries. This year, 2023, is USCENTCOM’s inaugural execution of the event, and 1st TSC participated as the operational-level sustainment command. The 1st TSC utilized Juniper Falcon 23 (JF23) to cultivate relationships, partner with Israel’s primary sustainment unit, Megiddo Brigade (MB), and establish a mutual logistics and sustainment support concept.
The MB is an Israeli Air Force Reserve unit that primarily focuses on air defense sustainment but is also the premier sustainment element of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), consisting of force protection, transportation, maintenance, and supply units. In contrast to the U.S. military, MB soldiers remain in the same unit and position for decades. Due to the 1st TSC unit rotation, both organizations had to develop relationships and revalidate plans from previous Juniper Falcon exercises. To develop relationships and common ground with our partners, 1st TSC entered JF23 with a focused plan on combining training and developing a shared understanding with MB. This training covered three key events: combined academics, security cooperation, and a bilateral training convoy.
Learning through Shared Understanding
The 1st TSC provides a robust and integrated sustainment capability that supports force projection, while MB partners share their sustainment force’s capability to support the defense of Israel. These different approaches allowed both organizations to use academics and bilateral training events to develop a shared understanding, leading to combined courses of action.
Combined academics developed relationships between sustainment units as sustainers from the 1st TSC and MB rehearsed tactics, techniques, and procedures to extend operational reach during a tabletop exercise. The 1st TSC demonstrated how their sustainment enterprise focuses on joint, reception, staging, and onward movement per Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 4-0, Sustainment, providing power projection options to geographical commanders. Conversely, MB sustainers provided insight into their sustainment options and how 1st TSC can integrate into sustainment planning. As a result, the sustainment partners achieved better relationships and a shared understanding while setting the theater to meet USCENTCOM’s mission requirements.
Utilizing Security Cooperation to Enhance Sustainment Planning
Building relationships with partners through training and cooperation establishes the ability to project power throughout the AOR. Field Manual 3-0, Operations, establishes security cooperation as a theater requirement to build trust and capabilities. The 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade (3rd SFAB) is USCENTCOM’s security cooperation expert and assisted the 1st TSC with this task. The 3rd SFAB trained alongside the 1st TSC, conducting theater security cooperation with the IDF, concentrating on tactical logistics. The 3rd SFAB provided instruction on movement operations and medical logistics, resulting in rehearsed plans for tactical medical support. The 3rd SFAB’s growing relationship with the IDF enabled access to medical facility tours and in-person meetings with IDF providers. These events enabled USCENTCOM to build on existing relationships, developing long-term security cooperation objectives and milestones.
Building Theater Continuity
With Israel firmly emplaced under the USCENTCOM umbrella, 1st TSC has modified support plans to include ground, air, and sea movement options. JF23 sustainment operations culminated with a bilateral training convoy of U.S. military vehicles and IDF force protection. The seven-vehicle convoy, consisting of IDF MB force protection and 369 Sustainment Brigade palletized loading systems, practiced transferring security responsibility between partners across ground borders. The training convoy resupplied two separate sites within Israel, demonstrating ground support throughout the country. Supporting the principles of sustainment in ADP 4-0, ground resupply options established the simplicity of sustainment and integration of all regional logistics forces.
Partnership and shared understanding create responsive support and options for higher commands to sustain forces within the USCENTCOM AOR. JF23 provided opportunities for 1st TSC and IDF sustainers to develop relationships further while learning the capabilities of both nations. Setting the theater includes academic exchanges and bilateral exercises. Solid relationships and understanding between U.S. and Israeli sustainers provide the basis for a successful alliance in the future.
Maj. Mitchell T. Hunt currently serves as transportation branch chief, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky. He has served as the commander of the 67th Forward Support Company, support operations officer, 1-393 Brigade Support Battalion (BSB), and as battalion executive officer, 2-395 BSB, at Fort Cavazos, Texas. He attended ROTC at Jacksonville State University, Alabama, commissioning as a quartermaster officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in general administration from Central Michigan University.
This article was published in the Summer 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.