In 2014, the Army Operating Concept introduced 20 Army warfighting challenges to provide an analytical framework to examine how the Army adapts to an exceedingly complex and changing global security environment.
Warfighting challenge 16 examines how the Army sets the theater, sustains operations, and maintains freedom of movement. This raises the question, how does the Army develop adaptive leaders capable of creating or conceiving solutions to this difficult challenge?
One way that the Army is developing these leaders is through the new Theater Sustainment Planners Program (TSPP). Starting with the 2017 academic year, students attending the resident Command and General Staff Officer’s Course (CGSOC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, have the opportunity to apply for the TSPP.
The Command and General Staff College designed this program to teach sustainment officers to understand the operational environment, design a theater distribution system, analyze theater sustainment requirements, determine required capabilities, and plan for reception, staging, onward movement, and integration operations.
Multifunctional logisticians who complete the TSPP receive additional skill identifier (ASI) P1, which certifies them as theater logistics planners. Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3, Commissioned Officer Professional Development and Career Management, states that multifunctional logistics majors with the ASI P1 who complete a subsequent utilization tour receive credit for being in a key developmental assignment.
Taking the course also authorizes these individuals to serve 36 months in key developmental positions versus the standard 24 months. An individual will serve 24 months as a logistics planner and 12 months in a tactical-level key developmental assignment. Utilization assignments include key planning positions, coded as P1, in units ranging from sustainment brigades to Army service component commands.
More than 500 positions in the Army require ASI P1. This number includes authorizations in the active and reserve components. About 86 percent of these positions are within theater sustainment commands, expeditionary sustainment commands, and sustainment brigades.
Over the past few years, it has been a challenge for the Army to fill these assignments with certified officers. This challenge recently prompted the replacement of the Theater Logistics Course with the Theater Sustainment Planners Course at the Army Logistics University at Fort Lee, Virginia.
The TSPP achieves the same learning objectives as the Army Logistics University’s Theater Sustainment Planners Course, a 120-hour blended online and resident course. However, the TSPP is structured to enhance the joint logistics and sustainment education provided in the CGSOC curriculum.
The TSPP is a three-phased program that provides students with a concentration in operational logistics. Students who complete all three phases of the TSPP will complete 352 hours of sustainment lessons and practical exercises, including 76 hours of common core lessons, 204 hours in the Advanced Operations Course (AOC), and 72 elective hours.
The TSPP builds upon the sustainment learning achieved during CGSOC’s common core lessons and AOC. The core lessons and exercises create a baseline of understanding and expose all students to key sustainment considerations and concepts that enable unified land operations.
During AOC, sustainers develop these sustainment concepts through practical applications. This gives them the credentials to serve as staff officers within their functional areas.
These officers enter the final phase of TSPP, which includes two CGSOC electives: A483, Set the Theater, and A484, Sustain the Force. These elective courses dive into detailed logistics planning at the theater operational level.
During these elective courses, the faculty exposes the students to new tools for estimating sustainment requirements and determining the suitability of sustainment in a selected country. Students use these tools to conduct in-depth analyses of logistics requirements and capabilities for a given task organization and in-depth sustainment preparation of the operational environment.
Students will do more individual and group work in A483 and A484 than in common core or AOC, as this final phase is intended to broaden officers’ research and critical thinking skills.
The program culminates with a formal country brief in which students present the results from their sustainment preparation of the operational environment research. They also participate in a theater rehearsal of concept drill based on their requirements and capabilities analyses.
Supporting Army and joint forces in tomorrow’s uncertain operational environments requires sustainment officers to determine how to set the theater, provide strategic agility for the joint force, and maintain freedom of movement and action during sustained and high operating tempo operations with extended lines of communication in austere environments.
The TSPP offers a practical education experience that supports this colossal task while further developing the professional expertise of tomorrow’s sustainment leaders.
Maj. Thomas E. Goyette is an assistant professor in the Department of Logistics and Resource Operations and an instructor for the TSPP at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has an associate degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in health care administration from Wayland Baptist University. He also has a master’s degree in emergency and disaster management from American Military University. He is a graduate of CGSOC and the Theater Sustainment Planners, How the Army Runs, Joint Humanitarian Operations, Mortuary Affairs Officer, and Support Operations courses.
Robert M. Bayless is an assistant professor in the Department of Logistics and Resource Operations and an instructor for the TSPP at the Command and General Staff College. He holds a master’s degree in systems management from the University of Southern California. He is a graduate of CGSOC and the Theater Sustainment Planners Course.
This article was published in the May-June 2017 issue of Army Sustainment magazine.