Tactical munitions management requires a fundamental change as the Army moves into the future with acute and pacing challenges from other nations. Tactical, operational, and strategic munitions managers must be able to assist commanders in visualizing, describing, and directing the Class V commodity in large-scale combat operations. The amount of munitions that moves through the logistical supply system and gets expended is only one data point that must be captured to drive decisions. The amount of data available for munitions from the vast number of sources outpaces the munitions staff’s ability to process information for decisive actions in combat.
Army Doctrine Publication 5-0, The Operations Process, states the Army’s framework for organizing and putting command and control into action is the operations process, the major command and control activities performed during operations: planning, preparing, executing, and continuously assessing the operation.
Planning is the art and science of understanding a situation and helps create a shared vision between commanders and staff at each echelon. With support from the munitions material managers on their staff, commanders use the operations process to develop conceptual and detailed munitions planning to understand an operational environment, which is a composite of the conditions, circumstances, and influences that affect the employment of capabilities. This planning results in an operations plan and order synchronizing munitions support to meet military objectives. Munitions logistics planners at each echelon should be involved in operations with all the available munitions data to maintain situational awareness, understand targeting priorities, identify and mitigate explosives safety risks, and enhance shared understanding among the noncommissioned officers, warrant officers, and branch commissioned officers that sustain munitions.
The ability to organize, describe, and visualize munitions data from an array of systems to solve complex sustainment problems with data-informed decisions is required for achieving the Army of 2030, ensuring it can sustain the fight across contested terrain and over time. There must be a fundamental reform of translating munitions data to inform commanders’ decisions. There are many sources of munitions data points, including the following:
Conventional Ammunition Packaging and Unit Load Data Index, provided by the Defense Ammunition Center (DAC), is an unofficial guide for informational purposes for military and civilian DOD personnel responsible for conventional ammunition unitization, storage, and shipment planning.
The Yellow Book provides hazard classification, physical security, marking, transportation and storage data, and criteria for selected ammunition and explosive items. The publication is a field consolidated reference of basic data and regulatory criteria.
The Substitutability/Interchangeability List indicates substitute and interchangeable items for ammunition managers at all levels and is a ready reference for commanders and their staffs and ammunition personnel at all echelons.
The Army Materiel Command (AMC) Drawing 19-48 series indexes all DAC unitization, storage, and outloading drawings applicable to Army Class V munitions items. The index provides a reference for acquiring procedural drawings to ensure the safe, economical, and standardized unitization, storage, handling, and outloading of ammunition commodities and related ground support equipment.
The Army Enterprise Systems Integration Program Hub provides a centralized method for authoritative Army enterprise master data management. That enables near real-time field readiness intelligence through a single-entry platform.
The Joint Program Executive Office Armaments & Ammunition Portfolio Book provides Class V system description, capabilities/system characteristics, weapon systems, and prime contractor data.
The munitions data gathered from all these sources are just facts with a particular meaning, but not yet information. Information is a set of data relevant to staff in a specific time frame but may not be considered knowledge. Information becomes knowledge when an understanding of the significance to operations can be communicated for decision-making. What enables decision-making is the ability to pull data and information from munitions’ logistical information systems to create knowledge for a shared understanding for commanders assisted by their staff.
Army munitions systems include many logistical systems used by various echelons. The critical functions of tactical units are the ability to forecast and approve munitions requirements, process and validate operational and training munitions requests, and report expenditure metrics. Reporting munitions status through manual logistical status reports is as essential as automated means. One crucial system is the Total Ammunition Management Information System (TAMIS), the munitions requirements generator, prioritization tool, and reporting system for Army organizations. The system calculates, validates, approves, and distributes munitions authorizations and collects expenditures. Additionally, the system is a web-based enterprise information system that processes unclassified data.
Munitions requests from TAMIS go to the Standard Army Ammunition System. The Army ammunition management system is designed for Class V conventional ammunition and related component and packaging materials. The system is the accountable property system of record for ammunition stored at the retail level and operates in near real-time at all functional levels in the theater of operations.
The system provides commanders at each level with automated asset visibility supported by online communications supporting com-bat operations. It integrates ammunition management functions between the material management branches (centers) and storage sites (ammunition support activities), including:
- Theater and corps materiel management branches or Army service component command equivalent.
- Ammunition support activities include theater and corps ammunition supply points, ammunition transfer and holding points, and modular ammunition transfer points.
- Installation ammunition supply support activity.
Additional munitions systems include the Munitions History Program, which collects and stores inspection and test data and tracks ammunition technical history quality assurance data. The Logistics Modernization Program supports the AMC industrial base, an enterprise resource planning solution that manages and tracks the order and delivery of equipment ranging from ammunition asset management through manufacturing. The Ammunition Enterprise Portal meSpace is an enterprise environment that integrates business processes within the Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command community to support developing, procuring, and supplying ammunition. While all the legacy munitions systems have been updated since their inception, modernization efforts have ensured munitions planning creates better value to sustain warfighting function.
Munitions System Modernization
No improvement is needed more than the tactical level Ammunition and Explosives Safety Munitions Risk Management, the overarching NATO policy that defines roles and responsibilities concerning risk management on NATO missions and describes the risk management process to be followed if specific safety criteria in explosives cannot be met. Two efforts underway using U.S. defense explosive safety criteria are Expeditionary Ammunition Site Planning – Software (EASP-S) and Blast Radius. EASP-S is used to develop the capability to help military ammunition inspectors rapidly plan and lay out theater ammunition storage areas in an expeditionary environment, reduce encroachment, and increase munitions survivability. The Blast Radius application, developed by the Army Software Factory, is a quick and easy way to assess hazards while storing ammunition and explosives in field environments.
One of the most fundamental reforms to munitions data comes from Enterprise Business System - Convergence (EBS-C). EBS-C will enable the munitions modernization and transformation effort to collect, streamline, standardize, and unify military operations regarding munitions planning from national strategic to the tactical, including munitions sustainment operations from national stockpiles to the forward line of troops at the tactical edge of the battlefield.
Munitions system modernization is making great developments and significant reorganization with technical innovation for the future battlefield of Army 2030. Munitions will always play a vital role in achieving military objectives. The Army, particularly sustainment organizations, must leverage commercial innovation and munitions data-driven sustainment, which comes to fruition from key leaders with the vision to see what can be done. In the not-so-distant future, munitions planners could be able to create a Class V common operating picture with virtual and augmented reality, navigating the battlefield, homing in on the locations of all ammunition support activities, and scrolling through window displays to see the percentage of available munitions, their capabilities, service condition, and exact location within the storage area. Munitions’ data-driven sustainment allows for quickly taking a vast amount of data and creating knowledge for key decision-makers to ensure victory on the battlefield.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael K. Lima currently serves as the training developer with the Ordnance Training Development Division. He is assigned to the Ordnance Corps and Ordnance School under Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia. He has conducted Training Within Industry with a prime missile defense contractor and was an accountable officer for the Army ammunition supply point at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. He holds a doctorate in business administration from Baker College Center for Graduate Studies, Michigan.
This article is published in the Fall 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.