ASC’s support operations enables 24/7 global Army readiness

By Greg WilsonMay 1, 2024

ASC’s Support Operations enables 24/7 global Army readiness
Col. Heather Carlisle, acting Support Operations executive director, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, confers with senior support operations staff at ASC headquarters, Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. (Photo Credit: U,S. Army photo by Greg Wilson) VIEW ORIGINAL

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — Put yourself in the place of a Soldier. You’re stationed at one of the approximately 100 installations in the continental United States, or the nearly two dozen formal Army installations outside of the continental U.S. No matter where you are, the U.S. Army Sustainment Command is there with you.

ASC has the critical mission of ensuring that all Soldiers have the equipment and any other resources, whenever and wherever they’re needed around the globe. To fulfill that mission, ASC draws upon the vast resources of worldwide ASC Army field support brigades and battalions, private industry and other Army commands — all to keep the force equipped and ready to carry out any mission they are called upon to perform.

It’s an intricate dance involving a great number of partners, coordinated by ASC through its command headquarters located at Rock Island Arsenal. Delve a little deeper, and you’ll see that much of the choreography is designed and managed by ASC’s Support Operations Directorate, commonly known as SPO.

“In essence, the SPO delivers logistics capabilities in support of Army forces during joint all-domain operations,” said Col. Heather Carlisle, SPO acting executive director. “ASC SPO integrates and synchronizes strategic and operational level sustainment functions from the strategic support area to the tactical point of need through our Army field support brigades and Army field support battalions, both CONUS and OCONUS.”

It doesn’t matter where the foxhole or office is — ASC is there. If a Soldier needs it, ASC likely has a hand in getting it and SPO coordinates the hand off.

As the old axiom states, “an army marches on its stomach.” That is as true today as it was when Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius’ armies controlled vast swatches of the ancient world.

ASC understands that, and a critical part of SPO’s mission is its Services Division, responsible for feeding Soldiers at 187 Warrior Restaurants and many culinary outposts.

Today’s Soldiers, however, have many additional needs, more complicated, and lethal.

There’s a steady drumbeat in the cycle of Army materiel: acquisition, storage, distribution, maintenance, repair, modernization, and replacement. As a major subordinate command of U.S. Army Materiel Command, ASC brings together the capabilities of all other nine AMC major subordinate commands, putting whatever is needed within a Soldier’s grasp.

ASC, through SPO, is the driving force that brings all these functions together for the benefit of Soldiers, ensuring every Soldier has supplies and equipment that are right for the job, that are maintained properly, and replaced when needed.

Carlisle says SPO constitutes about 60% of ASC headquarters personnel, underscoring its importance.

“SPO integrates and delivers installation logistics support through capabilities provided by logistic readiness centers; enterprise level logistics through distribution, redistribution, and divestiture of major end items; and management of Army Prepositioned and War Reserve Stocks,” she explained.

Army Prepositioned Stocks are Department of the Army-owned equipment sets, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and much more, according to APS Division Chief Christine McCann.

ASC’s Support Operations enables 24/7 global Army readiness
Col. Heather Carlisle, acting Support Operations executive director, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, along with then-Maj. Clint Pajela, during a visit to Military Activity Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

“APS equipment is globally located at storage sites, even at sea, to be drawn upon if needed for contingency, ally support or humanitarian/disaster relief,” said McCann. “Soldiers quickly enter the theater and can draw needed equipment allowing for a quick response, providing strategic flexibility to combatant commanders.”

SPO’s Chief of Operations, Lt. Col. Hung Ly, said the work done by the directorate is critical to ASC’s mission.

“The work that we do daily in SPO,” said Ly, “whether it is delivering materiel readiness effects in support of the tactical formation, coordinating for materiel distribution or redistribution across the Army or expediting critical materiel through the DoD transportation network, has contributed greatly to the success of ASC’s mission.”

Support operations are continuous in times of war and peace.

“Units and installations require support operations before, during and after training and missions,” said Carlisle. “The Army relies on ASC to keep daily services operational and maintain a reliable state of readiness for its forces. It is the responsibility of the SPO to enable, track and supply this level of support to the larger force.”

SPO is comprised of 10 directorates, or focal areas, each with distinct functions, giving ASC its decisive edge in support of AMC’s mission to deliver, integrate and synchronize sustainment capabilities.

Among them are Transportation, Program Development and Services, Mobilization and Power Projection Operations, Materiel Readiness, Supply Chain Operations, Lead Materiel Integration, Army Petroleum Center, Army Personal Property Lead Element, Packaging Shipping and Containerization Center, and the Redstone Arsenal Detachment.

While each directorate has specific operational processes within its purview, the individual directorates are intended to interrelate and serve as a seamless whole.

“For instance, Transportation Readiness manages four divisions that integrate and synchronize AMC transportation capabilities at the operational and tactical level, provide installation baseline standards, unit deployment support, Army Second Destination Transportation program execution and Army Airlift Clearance Authority,” Carlisle said. “This in turn provides guidance to Army headquarters to inform Army transportation policy.”

It's a mouthful, but it shows how interconnected the functions are and all of them acting together is what brings ASC mission success for Soldiers, who are the ultimate and final customers.

Consider just a few of the areas under ASC’s and SPO’s belt:

  • Second Destination Transportation program management: Provides an efficient way to book, bill, and pay for freight and personal property moving throughout the Defense Transportation System.
  • Lead Materiel Integration: An overarching term which denotes the distribution, redistribution and divestiture (disposal) of enormous amounts of combat and other equipment across the Army.
  • Materiel Readiness Directorate: Integrates and synchronizes installation, APS maintenance management, and collects and analyzes material readiness for installation base operations, Army Petroleum Center and specified units.
  • Mobilization, Power Projection, Operations Directorate: Responsible for coordination, synchronization and execution of logistic efforts in support of the command’s current and future operations and campaign plan lines of effort to provide the Army strategic depth and flexibility.

While six of the 10 directorates that make up the SPO are co-located at Rock Island Arsenal, four directorates are geographically dispersed.

SPO has management and oversite for specific operations at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama; Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pennsylvania; and Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The services of the directorates and offices under the SPO umbrella touch just about every need a Soldier has while serving.

Carlisle attributes every mission success to the men and women at the heart of SPO.

“The workforce is comprised of talented military, civilian and contractor personnel,” she said.

“The talent and incredible dedication of our personnel enables us to build cohesive teams that take great pride in their work, the development of their teammates and their role in delivering readiness across the Army. SPO is known for its exceptional camaraderie and esprit de corps, which enables the team to tackle the toughest challenges and daily curveballs with great alacrity, building a reputation as the Army’s premier experts in our various functional areas, as our Army continues to modernize and evolve.”

ASC, in large part through SPO, ensures the Army has equipment needed for combat, exercises, regular training, and a host of other scenarios, keeping Soldiers always at the ready if and when urgent situations arise.

Editor’s note: In future articles, some of the individual directorates within Support Operations will be examined, to see how the unique focus and expertise of each contributes to the success of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command’s vital mission.