WASHINGTON — When Lt. Gen. Robert T. Dail retired seven years ago, he was one of the most senior military logisticians in the Department of Defense. In his last assignment, he served as the director of the Defense Logistics Agency, where his team provided 95 percent of the materiel used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
FORT LEE, Va. (May 26, 2016) — Sustainment is a big challenge for the Army, according to the top general at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
“In sustainment, we like to have predictions,” said Gen. David G. Perkins, TRADOC commanding general. “The problem with that is the world we’re talking about is anything but predictable and it’s going to be very dispersed, which makes sustainment very difficult.”
The Combined Arms Support Command’s Sustainment Battle Lab hosted a Freedom of Movement Rehearsal of Concept Drill at Fort Lee’s Simulation Training Center May 16-20. The event focused on answering 39 study questions within the analytical framework of three Army Warfighting Challenges that address how to conduct wide-area security, combined arms maneuver, and set the theater, sustain operations and maintain freedom of movement. More than 160 subject matter experts from TRADOC and across the Army gathered to identify complex problems and holistic solutions to shape our future force.
“Once you have a common understanding of the problem, you start developing a common visualization of how everyone contributes to the solution,” Perkins said.
The Sustainment Battle Lab developed vignettes within a fictional scenario to facilitate discussion to address four primary objectives within the AWC frame work: the implications of simultaneously executing wide area security and combined arms maneuver, sustainment for Special Forces units, sustainment for Aviation and how to sustain widely dispersed forces over long distances.
“With these kinds of war games, we’re getting an intellectual foundation on what some of the problems are and how we can go about solving them,” Perkins said. “Then, we take some of the ideas we came up with and start testing them.”
Outputs from the ROC Drill will inform other Army experimentation venues to help validate suitability for implementation. Other outputs may have an immediate impact on how the Army fights.
“Ultimately, these conceptual ideas may have evolutionary or revolutionary impact on the Army,” said Maj. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general.
Williams explained revolutionary changes are game-changing – like introducing new technology that completely changes how the Army fights, the standard for revolutionary change is very high – while evolutionary changes are those that enhance how Soldiers currently fight on the battlefield. According to Williams, The Army specifically gathered participants for the FOM ROC Drill to identify opportunities for evolutionary and revolutionary change.
Perkins thought the event spoke to the “think” and “learn” portions of the TRADOC “think, learn, assess, implement” model.
“We have to teach our Soldiers to learn how to learn,” Perkins said.
The enemies throughout the world, adapt very quickly, he said. To counter this, the Army must be a self-learning, multi-capable organization that can find multiple solutions to problems and increase the rate of innovation employing those solutions, he explained.
The diverse audience of the FOM ROC Drill highlighted the need to reduce sustainment demands from military forces, refine future concepts to employ them on the battlefield and sustain unique mission requirements from Special Forces. Inclusion of NATO allies created a common understanding of potential interoperability challenges that may exist with joint, interagency multi-national partners.
“Senior leaders across the Army are engaged in answering the question of how the Army will sustain the future fight in accordance with the Army Operating Concept and our understanding of potential adversaries,” said Col. Mark Simerly, director of CASCOM’s Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate.
“Our ROC Drill this week represented an important opportunity to advance senior leader understanding and guidance on the future of Army Sustainment in our campaign of learning.”