Executing Sustained Logistics Support for the Defense of Ukraine

By Lt. Gen. Christopher Mohan, Maj. Gen. David Wilson, and Brig. Gen. Brad NicholsonNovember 15, 2023

(Photo Credit: Graphic by Sarah Lancia) VIEW ORIGINAL

Army Materiel Command (AMC) has been at the forefront of delivering record amounts of military aid to Ukraine as that nation defends against Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion that began in February 2022. Ukraine is a key regional strategic partner and remains an urgent security assistance priority for the United States.

Much of AMC’s heavy lifting has been done by the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC) and Army Sustainment Command (ASC), but the entire AMC and greater Army sustainment enterprise have had crucial roles, including Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, Army Contracting Command, and Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. Each command and agency has unique contributions as it supports a whole-of-government approach to Russian aggression in Ukraine.

AMC’s specific role is ensuring the safe and speedy delivery of materiel and services, enabling its partners to defend themselves and bolster regional stability and democratic values. Employing the fort-to-port-to-foxhole concept, AMC has identified needed equipment and established a steady logistics flow to deliver precision sustainment and materiel readiness from the strategic support area to the tactical point of contact. It has done so by adapting in real-time as the sustainment enterprise has operated outside the bounds of conventional doctrine and remained flexible and agile to provide quick, efficient support.

As the lead for AMC’s Security Assistance Enterprise and during the initial phase of the Presidential Drawdowns, USASAC was the primary coordinator working with the AMC major subordinate command’s Security Assistance Management directorates and the Assistant Secretary of the Army’s (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) program executive offices. These organizations collaborated in developing the draft Presidential Drawdowns, identifying equipment availability from stock, or procuring defense items directly from industry — all while assessing impacts to readiness.

USASAC continues to support the presidential drawdowns by managing the Army property book and identifying and coordinating the delivery of excess defense articles to Ukraine. This facilitates modernization efforts by replacing old materiel with newer items, as the Army sends equipment from stock and replaces the stock with modernized equipment, maintaining readiness.

Pursuant to a delegation by the President, the emergency Presidential Drawdown Authority has been used on 42 occasions since August 2021 to provide Ukraine military assistance directly from DOD stockpiles.

Meanwhile, ASC has been actively engaged with leveraging the presence of Army field support brigades (AFSBs) to play pivotal roles in swiftly delivering essential equipment to allies and partners, meeting their urgent requirements with remarkable efficiency. Thanks to the strategic placement of AFSBs worldwide, including in Europe, these brigades have bolstered the support network and strengthened collaborations, ensuring swift and efficient assistance when and where it mattered most.

From the Army’s organic industrial base (OIB) depots and facilities to the ports in the U.S. and Europe, and then overland by truck and rail to the fight, AMC has been agile and has adapted to help reinforce a sovereign nation’s capacity and readiness.

As just one example, the short-notice coordination and execution to move 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks halfway around the globe was a tremendous success as it quickly and safely provided critical warfighting resources where they were needed most. The military aid that AMC facilitates is making its way to Ukrainian battlefields at an unparalleled pace, sometimes within days instead of the months or years that foreign military sales (FMS) cases can historically take.

To date, USASAC has facilitated the delivery of more than $13 billion in weapons, training, and materiel since the beginning of last year’s invasion. The multibillion-dollar security assistance packages include items like anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems, unmanned aerial systems, artillery, rocket systems, armored personnel carriers and other wheeled and track vehicles, body armor, munitions, medical supplies, and protective equipment.

Security assistance and FMS may not, in and of itself, be built for speed, but the war in Ukraine has shown the agility and responsiveness the optimized logistics supply chain is capable of in a contested environment. This is not a new mission; AMC has successfully executed resupply and field maintenance for over half a century and continually finds ways to innovate and streamline the processes. These cumulative improvements are facilitating the delivery of multibillion-dollar military aid to Ukraine around the clock and at unprecedented speeds.

To make that happen and ensure the resources are available — from munitions to their lethal delivery methods — industrial base operations are performing at peak capacity. Even in a modernization transformation process, the 23 depots, arsenals, and ammunition plants that make up the Army’s OIB are manufacturing and resetting Army equipment to maintain readiness and operational capability throughout Army formations, as well as to allies and partners abroad. Sufficient capacity is continuously maintained and balanced with production, stockpiling, and forward positioning to meet this current strategic surge requirement. And the artisan workforce is not simply operating from within the confines of its facilities. It is deployed worldwide to provide critical maintenance support at the point of need.

AMC has not stopped with Ukraine. Ukraine’s lessons and takeaways have amplified concerns about the future. Many lessons can be applied directly to support the Army’s priority effort in the Pacific. Remote maintenance distribution centers, as employed to support Ukraine, provide a forward capability that can be translated to other theaters globally. In practice, it may not look the same each time, but the concept can be applied globally.

Unlike Europe, the realities of the size of the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility require multi-model, multi-service, and joint approaches. The sustainment enterprise works with multiple stakeholders within the Joint Staff, Army Staff, and Office of the Secretary of Defense to codify doctrine and modify sustainment planning based on what the Army and the Joint Community think the future fight may hold. This problem is challenging; services must rely on more than past experiences.

If Ukraine taught the world one thing, the U.S.’s partners and allies cannot wait for the first shots fired, which means the Army cannot wait and must set conditions in the theater before crisis or conflict. AMC, working with U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), is preparing the theater now. Predictive sustainment requires a data-driven approach. Using the observations from Ukraine, particularly Security Assistance Group Ukraine’s use of the AMC Predictive Analytic Suite (APAS), USARPAC utilizes APAS’s analytical capabilities to build partner capacity, identify bulk storage sites for common stocks, validate early entry requirements, and work cross-ACOM to enable strategic sustainment activities from foxhole to depot.

AMC continues to improve APAS capabilities and knows commanders do not need another dashboard of stuff. Instead, commanders need refined, analyzed data with options and risks assessed to make decisions. There is no other theater where this matters more than the Pacific.

Implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning through exercises such as the Unified Pacific Wargame Series and Talisman Sabre allows the sustainment enterprise to refine systems and processes. Participation in these key operations enables experiential learning opportunities on data systems to predict future requirements and provide materiel readiness at predetermined locations.

AMC also leverages Army pre-positioned stock (APS) to set areas from Australia to the first island chain in support of combatant commanders. APS capability is both a deterrent and a strategic asset for conflict. Through ASC, implementing and executing contracts prepare multiple theater locations to establish basing options. This advanced planning effort will build a programmatic approach toward refining support to theater requirements and generate data in the process, establishing a baseline that will become the building blocks for which future systems operate and provide decision-support capabilities to commanders on the ground.

No area of operation has an easy button, but AMC and the sustainment enterprise are taking deliberate steps to set and prepare theaters. One thing is sure: data will drive the next fight as it is driving the current battle now.

In addition to helping an imperiled democratic nation in Ukraine, building partner capacity, supporting combatant command engagement strategies, and strengthening U.S. global partnerships, we do this because, in the simplest terms, it’s the right thing to do. AMC delivers.


Lt. Gen. Christopher Mohan serves as the deputy commanding general of Army Materiel Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He has had command assignments in First Army and Army Sustainment Command, Rock Island, Illinois, and the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He was commissioned into the Army in 1989 from Appalachian State University, North Carolina. He holds a Master of Science in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College and a master’s degree in military strategy from the Army War College.

Maj. Gen. David Wilson serves as the commanding general of Army Sustainment Command, Rock Island, Illinois. He served as the commanding general of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. He was commissioned as a field artillery officer upon graduation from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in 1991. He holds a Master of Science in general administration from Central Michigan University and a Master of Science in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Brig. Gen. Brad Nicholson serves as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He served as the Deputy G-5, U.S. Army Europe and Africa in Wiesbaden, Germany. He was commissioned in 1998 as a field artillery officer through ROTC at North Carolina State University. He is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Utah.


This article is published in the Fall 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.