Leaping Ahead in Projecting Combat Power: The View From the 267th Theater Movement Control Element

By Lt. Col. Scott GumApril 23, 2024

The Rhine River barge crew loads equipment for the 82nd Airborne Division deployment to Europe in Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 23, 2023. (Photo by Capt. Jake Palmer)
The Rhine River barge crew loads equipment for the 82nd Airborne Division deployment to Europe in Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 23, 2023. (Photo by Capt. Jake Palmer) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

On Feb. 24, 2022, the forces of the Russian Federation crossed the Ukraine border, initiating a special military operation that resulted in the first major ground combat operation in Europe in 70 years. In swift response, NATO nations, including the U.S., mobilized to support Ukraine with military materiel and supplies. Since the conflict’s onset, the U.S. has assured its allies by projecting combat power across Europe, dedicating over $44.2 billion in military aid under the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), granted in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. To coordinate these complex deployments and logistics movements across nations, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) has operationalized theater sustainment to meet the challenge.

U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) faces the daunting task of accurately tracking the movement of Army division-sized forces in addition to the military sustainment materiel entering and traveling through European NATO countries. A critical aspect of this support falls under the 21st TSC’s responsibility. Within the 21st TSC, the 267th Theater Movement Control Element (TMCE) developed, tested, and implemented an unprecedented method to further enable movement control: the Joint Enterprise Data Interoperability (JEDI) Movement Center – Europe (JMCE). Developed in collaboration with industry partner Nexus Life Cycle Management, the JMCE serves as a crucial interface between the 21st TSC, allied and partner nations, and NATO, which relies on the Logistics Functional Area Services (LOGFAS) suite of tools.

Exceeding limitations of stove-piped legacy systems, the JMCE accomplishes what has never before been possible. First and foremost, it rapidly enables integration between European allies/partners and DOD assigned/allocated forces during the planning and execution of operations, rotations, and exercises in support of military mobility across the European theater. In addition to achieving this extraordinary new standard of joint operations, it also leverages digital persistence, enabling consolidation and analysis of DOD and commercial information systems capabilities with LOGFAS, enhancing the functionality of LOGFAS across NATO nations. Since 2022, the 21st TSC rapidly deployed and tracked 14 brigade combat teams, five division headquarters, two corps headquarters, and countless enablers with near-flawless transparency in addition to partner aid missions, including 32 Surface Deployment and Distribution Command vessels of sustainment and combat power.

For the 21st TSC, the PDA mission is clear—transport and track resources that are critical for Ukrainian victory. Success in this mission relies on meticulous preparation of materiel for shipment, coordination with allies and partners, and appropriation of funding for the ongoing support by the American people backing this crucial endeavor.

The safe and secure movement of resources through a multinational environment is imperative, and this is where the 21st TSC, specifically the TMCE, comes into play. The importance of solidarity with sovereign nations and transit nations cannot be overstated.

The TMCE, operating under the umbrella of the 21st TSC, plays a pivotal role in accounting for a significant portion of the support when in the European theater. Established as part of the TMCE, the JMCE is vital in identifying frustrated cargo, reducing errors and delays from diplomatic clearances, and responding to requests for information from commanders and higher headquarters at the tactical level. This innovative element ensures the hand-off points, critical to the success of the mission, are efficiently managed and executed.

The military-commercial hybrid nature of the JMCE, developed out of necessity, facilitated the rapid adoption of next-generation transponders (NGTs), JEDI, and LOGFAS capabilities in a scope never before attempted. Beyond tracking, the JMCE has been at the forefront of advancing in-transit visibility (ITV) capabilities, particularly with LOGFAS. The implementation of this ITV capability, including the integration of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) NGTs, was a groundbreaking step forward. The use of NGTs presented several challenges and lessons learned during the development and operational employment phases.

Implementing the new systems and methodology was not without its challenges. In late July 2023, spectrum management concerns arose, highlighting the complexity faced when employing COTS technologies such as NGTs with LOGFAS. By early August 2023, the JMCE, working in collaboration with industry experts, validated the commercial approval of NGTs throughout the European Union (EU), leading to the permanent authorization of NGTs. A dedicated team member was added in Germany to provide direct ITV support to the JMCE, resolving operational demands and advancing processes and policies to reduce the risk of additional concerns related to the new ITV capabilities.

The JMCE’s commitment to continuous improvement is evident in its response to these spectrum management concerns. Recognizing the challenges posed by employing COTS technologies, the JMCE actively addressed these concerns and collaborated with relevant authorities, including the EU, to secure commercial approval for NGTs. Since the integration of NGTs in the theater, the JMCE has accurately tracked and reported on 869 missions between May and December of 2023. The industry team’s dedication to resolving concerns and providing direct support reflects the adaptability and commitment of the JMCE to meet operational demands effectively.

The JMCE’s work within the 21st TSC is not limited to tracking assets and ensuring timely deliveries. It extends to updating policies, executing new processes, and managing new technologies. Ongoing efforts include testing the use of mission data available in the Transportation Coordinator’s Automated Information for Movement System (TC-AIMS), the Army’s transportation coordination tool, with plans to bridge TC-AIMS to LOGFAS to streamline data entry requirements for movement control battalions and movement control teams.

This mission, rooted in on-the-ground, evolving processes, serves as a proving ground for advancing the Army’s logistics and technological capabilities in Europe. The JMCE’s integration of NGTs, JEDI, and LOGFAS capabilities into PDA missions not only advances ITV capability but also contributes to the development of policies, technology, and process advancements being assessed by the Army and NATO partners. At present, the 21st TSC is a catalyst for positive change, pushing forward advancements benefitting both Ukraine support and the entire Army ecosystem operating in Europe.

Due to the increased need for the U.S.’s support for Ukraine under the PDA, the use of NGTs and the implementation of greater ITV through the JEDI multinational (MN) logistics (LOG) common operational picture (COP) enhance the ability for successful USEUCOM theater deployment and sustainment of U.S. forces in a coordinated and collaborative joint and multinational environment. Furthermore, they strengthen the multinational force readiness capability and posture as the conflict continues.

This mission, beyond its operational successes, has yielded a wealth of lessons learned for logistics operations in the multinational and NATO environment. Acknowledging the importance of sharing these insights, the JMCE has actively contributed to NATO’s Asset Tracking Working Group and plans to participate in NATO’s Coalition Warrior Interoperability exercise and Asset Tracking Capability Integration Campaign exercise.

Beyond the direct support for Ukraine, the JMCE’s use of LOGFAS enables rapid data sharing not only with NATO and NATO partners but also globally with non-NATO partners. This global application was demonstrated in North Africa during exercise African Lion 23, which showcased the versatility and interoperability of the JMCE’s capabilities. The data collected can be shared with other DOD or partner dashboards or systems using the MN LOG COP application programming interfaces, providing commands across DOD the flexibility to use their preferred tools for viewing or analyzing the data. The natural next step for the DOD is to extend the proof of concept to other theaters of operation.

NATO and the U.S. military face extraordinary challenges in responding to the Russian Federation’s incursion into Ukraine. Amidst these tumultuous times, the U.S. commitment to support Ukraine, under the PDA, necessitates a meticulous and synchronized logistics effort. The establishment of the JMCE within the 21st TSC emerges as a pivotal element, facilitating an agile approach to coordination, tracking, and transportation of critical resources. The benefits provided by cutting-edge technologies, including NGTs, JEDI, and LOGFAS, are seen every day across Europe. Notably, the JMCE’s role extends beyond immediate support for Ukraine, showcasing its impact on global data sharing, technological advancements, and lessons learned for logistics operations. The new technologies, methods, and capabilities all add velocity, visibility, and flexibility to the Army’s decision-making, increasing its advantage in future contested logistics environments. The continuous improvement ethos of the combined TMCE and JMCE, its adaptability to overcome challenges, and innovative contributions to NATO’s working groups are groundbreaking with every movement, demonstrating its significance as a catalyst for positive change in advancing Army logistics and logistics convergence across Europe.


Lt. Col. Scott Gum serves as the chief of the 267th Theater Movement Control Element at 21st Theater Sustainment Command on Panzer Kaserne in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He previously served as the joint operational logistics planner for U.S. European Command J-4. He has a Master of Science degree in homeland security from Colorado Technical University.


This article was published in the Spring 2024 issue of Army Sustainment.


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