Innovation drives Army sustainment enterprise forward

By Stefan AlfordApril 9, 2024

Lt. Gen. Chris Mohan, AMC deputy commanding general and Redstone Arsenal senior commander delivers keynote address during day three of the Association of the U.S. Army Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., March 28, 2024. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Eben Boothby) VIEW ORIGINAL

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Modernization and transformation were the key takeaways Lt. Gen. Chris Mohan emphasized to military and industry leaders at the close of the annual Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium, held in Huntsville from March 26-28, 2024.

Mohan, Army Materiel Command’s deputy commanding general and acting commander, tied those overarching tasks to drive change into the theme of this year’s event of “Continuous Transformation to Deliver Ready Combat Formations.”

“Without a doubt, this week demonstrated that the Army sustainment community is focused on delivering ready combat formations,” he said, referring to one of the chief of staff of the Army’s four focus areas. “And we are doing that through multiple lines of effort.”

Mohan outlined the efforts to prepare theaters, advance equipment modernization and readiness, and rapidly redistribute excess equipment and divest obsolete equipment.

“I recently had the opportunity to visit both Europe and the Pacific, and I can say unequivocally that the sustainment community is engaged and employing the might of the industrial base to accomplish what our COCOM commanders are asking us to do around the globe,” he said.

Army Prepositioned Stocks are a critical piece of posturing theaters, but it's not a one-size-fits-all approach, Mohan noted. APS sets must be sized appropriately, modernized and strategically located to serve as a deterrent and support theater requirement.

Noting the war in Ukraine as “a national wake-up call” to the importance of sustainment and logistics forces, Mohan lauded the success of expanded remote maintenance capabilities. The command has since made improvements from lessons learned by solving “complex problems for our partners who are learning basically in combat how to operate some of our systems.”

“We've reformed and changed the way we think about the front end of it,” Mohan said, “but the back end of it is where we could use some help from industry because at the end of the day, we still go to a warehouse, we still pull a part off a wire shelf, put it in a cardboard box and put it on the back of a truck. We've got to reform distribution, as well.”

As examples of initiatives being looked at for the delivery of parts and equipment to match the speed and scale of conflict across vast distances, as well as safeguard personnel, Mohan cited continued development of unmanned aerial systems and autonomous watercraft. Leveraging data analytics will also lead to more precise sustainment operations through the efforts the command has forged with its AMC Predictive Analytics Suite.

“Early in the conflict in Ukraine, we deployed that system to help them better see themselves and help them better understand how materiel was going to flow,” he explained. APAS provides a holistic picture of readiness and ways to mitigate risk through a comprehensive look at equipment usage and forecasted needs that allows commanders in the field to make decisions based on real-time data.

“It is an absolute game changer,” said Mohan, emphasizing that the human element is still vital to the process. “The key is, it's a decision support tool so that a leader can make the necessary decision.”

Also helping leaders to deliver ready combat formations is the recently piloted Rapid Removal of Excess, or R2E program, said Mohan.

“Our units have become heavy with 20 years of equipment and supplies that we have left over from multiple wars and multiple conflicts,” he said. “The R2E effort that we're doing has yielded incredible results”

From only four initial sites, more than 65,000 pieces of equipment have been turned in in as-is condition, which is the biggest difference from standard processes. This change unburdens units from spending money on maintenance and time on doing inventories and frees up space in motor pools and storage locations so the unit is prepared to receive modernized equipment.

Mohan explained that while the equipment turned in could either go back to a depot or be disposed of in place, it could also provide “huge opportunities for foreign military sales and building partner capacity as we continue to work through this process.”

Efforts are also underway now, with the 15-year, $18 billion plan to modernize the Army’s organic industrial base to transform from the old vision of “Rosie the Riveter and people with hammers beating on things to a modernized facility with robotics, advanced manufacturing and cutting-edge capabilities with a highly skilled artisan workforce,” Mohan said.

“We've got the best sustainers and logisticians in the world, and they are all laser focused on doing what is right for our Army. We've got to help them because that's our responsibility,” he concluded.