Army Log Summit 2000: Logistics in the Army's Transformation

The Army Logistics Summit 2000 brought the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Eric K. Shinseki, to Fort Lee, Virginia, in April to present the Army Vision to the collected logistics leadership. Speaking before about 80 percent of the Army's logistics leaders at and above the colonel and GS-15 civilian levels, the Chief emphasized that the transformation of the force that is at the heart of the Army Vision is fundamentally a logistics process. This is because achieving the agility that will be required by the transformed Army will depend greatly on creating an agile logistics structure. The Chief noted that about 80 percent of what the Army must move when deploying is not soldiers but "stuff"—the weapons, equipment, and supplies that are the domain of the logistician. Therefore, "agility in our logistics structure makes force agility."

To drive home his point about the criticality of logistics agility, the Chief compared the Army to a rattlesnake. A rattlesnake is always lethal, but his ability to strike and inflict damage on his target depends on his posture. If he is coiled, he has maximum spring and thus striking power. But if he is stretched out, there is no striking power behind his still deadly fangs; he has lost his ability to project his lethality. Similarly, when the Army's support structure is stretched out, the Army remains lethal but loses striking power. But when that support structure is compact ("coiled"), the Army attains maximum ability to bring its combat power to bear on its chosen target.

The Chief reemphasized the importance of science and technology developments to transforming the Army. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has pledged to spend $406 million over 3 years to help the Army reach its technological objectives—money that will supplement the Army's own planned spending. The Chief stated that it is his goal to have the first unit of the objective force equipped by 2008.

The theme of logistics in the transformation of the Army was continued in a presentation by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, the Honorable Paul J. Hoeper. He emphasized the importance of recapitalization in transforming the force and noted that recapitalization is the focus of much congressional interest. Mr. Hoeper presented a new definition of recapitalization recently adopted by the Army—

The maintenance and systemic upgrade of currently fielded systems to ensure operational readiness and a zero time/zero mile system. Our objectives include: (1) Extend service life, (2) Reduce operating and support costs, (3) Improve system reliability, maintainability, safety, and efficiency, and (4) Enhance capability.

Mr. Hoeper observed, "The transformation drive requires an investment in the legacy force today. Without it, escalating O&S [operating and support] costs will drain future resources." Among initiatives designed to support recapitalization and logistics modernization, he announced that the Army has become the first of the armed services to include "sustainment" as one of the evaluation criteria for program and project managers.

The Logistics Summit provided the opportunity for senior logisticians from throughout the Army to brief their colleagues on developments in their commands and agencies. Presentations were made by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics; the Army Materiel Command (AMC) and its major subordinate commands; the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM); the Army Training and Doctrine Command's combat service support schools; the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA); Army Forces Command; Eighth U.S. Army; Third U.S. Army; U.S. Army, Europe; and U.S. Army, Pacific.

Important topics discussed at the summit included velocity management, DLA initiatives and reorganization, creation of AMC's Operations Support Command and field support centers, the Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army), the Wholesale Logistics Modernization Program, the Single Stock Fund, the National Maintenance Modernization Program, recapitalization, emerging logistics technology, the progress of the interim brigade combat teams, and the latest developments in Kosovo.

The Army Logistics Summit 2000 was sponsored by the AMC Commander, General John G. Coburn, and the CASCOM commander, Lieutenant General Billy K. Solomon. ALOG