Proposed changes in how future force structures (Force XXI, interim brigade combat teams [IBCTs], and the Objective Force) will be supported could mean that the Army will need to include equipment armed with serious defensive weaponry and soldiers trained to use it in its combat service support (CSS) units.
Results of the Army Transformation war game point to a future battlefield twice as lethal as the current one across the full spectrum of operations. According to observations from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, "The skills and equipment necessary to fight in the BSA [brigade support area] and defend resupply convoys are inadequate even for today's conditions, let alone future operations." Considering the lethality of future combat operations, CSS units will require a quantum leap in tactical competence to survive and fulfill their wartime missions. In the future, will current CSS tactical doctrine and modification tables of organization and equipment suffice, or will it be necessary to develop true "CSS warriors"?
CSS units have always walked a fine line between mission and survival. Many doctrinal publications refer to the risks a CSS commander must take to provide support to a combat element. CSS units are primary targets for attacks ranging from terrorist actions to all-out exploitation by enemy forces. Typically, attacking forces try to disrupt supply distribution systems, destroy command posts, and degrade the capability of CSS units to support tactical operations.
In the future combat scenario, support must be flexible, mobile, and agile to keep pace with maneuver elements. Logistics units will be everywhere on an ever-changing battlefield to support the combat soldier. Logisticians cannot count on staying in the rear because there will be no "rear," only temporary staging areas operating within the increasingly fast-paced and lethal combat zone. With the expansion of areas of responsibility into huge geographical areas (estimated to be 200 by 150 kilometers) in both Force XXI and the IBCT or interim division, those units with doctrinal security missions, such as military police, could be overburdened trying to provide route and security support. Logisticians simply cannot count on this support. This is particularly important now that we consistently are operating convoys from the corps area through the brigade rear boundary. If lethality is doubled, a unit or convoy will have a difficult time surviving the first 10 minutes of contact, let alone the 30 or more minutes it could take for help to arrive. It is easy to envision entire convoys becoming smoldering hulks while awaiting help from a military police or combat unit performing route or area security operations.
Threats come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations. This will not change in the future. Current doctrine prescribes principles for self-protection, such as base defense and base cluster defense. This doctrine was written mainly for a linear, contiguous battlefield, which is no longer typical in most current operations.
The enemy's mission in a rear or support area is to delay the delivery of supplies or destroy them altogether. Any level of threat can disrupt support operations if the enemy has a target and a belief that his action will further his cause. Such threats could be deterred or repulsed quicker, easier, and at much less risk to the troops involved by the presence of armor or other combat vehicles in or very near the logistics units. If CSS units could defend themselves better, combat and combat support troops would be free to concentrate on their original missionto win the war or keep the peace. With optimal equipment, CSS units would need very little assistance, if any, to combat threats.
The bottom line is that nearly all enemy operations in the rear area take place because CSS units and convoys are high-value targets and are essential for maintaining combat power to the maneuver units.
Throughput and distribution-based logistics are terms that come up in most discussions of Force XXI, IBCT, or Objective Force logistics. In the future, logistics functions will depend on these concepts in one way or another. Distribution-based logistics replaces the supply-based system of Army of Excellence doctrine. Key changes include
These changes mean a very different CSS concept of support than we have today. This new CSS concept will cause a significant change in the doctrine, training, leader development, organization, materiel, and soldier systems (DTLOMS) associated with the CSS units involved in the Army's transformation.
Implications for EAD in support of the redesigned division are numerous and far reaching. Terrain restrictions, length of lines of communication, and the expanded battlespace of Force XXI and interim division units all will place greater demands on logistics planners and operators to accomplish support missions. Concepts of support using mobile corps forward logistics assets most likely will be necessary to ensure continuity of support. These same battlespace and logistics realities will increase security requirements for Force XXI and interim division CSS units. The CSS community must have the organic capability to provide force protection for assets moving around the battlefield, especially direct support units. Without the "correct" vehicles and weapons to defend themselves, CSS units will not assist in the fightthey will be a detriment to the fight instead.
The extended battlespace of Force XXI and the interim division will lengthen lines of communication, which will make it more difficult to keep them secure. This will only compound the problems faced by distribution- based logistics. To help overcome the distance factors, CSS convoys must gain and maintain the same situational awareness that the combat forces have by using enablers. This is especially critical forward of the division rear boundary.
While operating in a Force XXI or interim division environment, security of CSS elements will depend heavily on situational awareness computer and communication systems such as the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below System, the Combat Service Support Control System, and the Movement Tracking System (MTS). With such situational awareness assets, it is possible to "see" the enemy and friendly forces alike and make adjustments as required. Situational awareness will give the CSS commander the ability to influence the movement of his troops and equipment and to use them efficiently, effectively, and safely.
A force-protection screen also must be maintained in split-based operations if combat and CSS units are to conduct their operations successfully. Forward-deployed and forward-employed units, forces at seaports and airports of debarkation, and units in the BSA must have the ability to provide force protection in split-based operations. For CSS units, this operational reality adds to the dilemma of having security forces spread too thinly across a huge area of responsibility. It also further stretches the organic defensive capabilities of units that already are stretched to the breaking point.
Imagine a logistics element made up of slices from several units traveling 50 or even 100 kilometers from their current positions and setting up a logistics base in the middle of nowhere. (The chart on page 14, taken from Field Manual 3-0, Operations, is an example of this situation.) The logistics element alone must defend the base because the maneuver unit, which has its own mission to accomplish, is nowhere near the base. Without adequate defensive equipment, the base could become a wasteland in minutes. Also, applying the concept of "just right" logistics while operating in an austere CSS environment could mean that a single lost convoy or shipment of supplies literally could stop an entire maneuver operation in its tracks. The criticality of CSS cannot be overstated. If operations are conducted as envisioned in Force XXI and interim division briefings, there will be very little room for error. Simply stated, if CSS units fail to show up, the maneuver units will not get what they need.
Within the battlespace, asymmetric factors also affect operations. Asymmetric warfare seeks to avoid the opponent's strengths and to pit comparative advantages against relative weaknesses. This, coupled with the issue of contiguous and noncontiguous areas of responsibility, especially in small and mid-size contingencies, can be significant.
Because asymmetric attacks pose problems to all combatants, the disadvantaged side must consider asymmetry from the start so it can adjust its course of action, doctrine, methods, and equipment requirements. Since the U.S. Army historically has been the superior force, enemy forces will have to change their methods if they expect to gain any real advantages over it. This has been demonstrated in every Army deployment since Operation Desert Storm. The enemy has used asymmetrical, unconventional warfare to negate technological and personnel advantages. When direct combat is not an option, bombings, sniper attacks, and assassinations become the disadvantaged side's course of action. Putting a combat vehicle in every convoy and at every logistics base would deter or lessen the effects of these tactics with firepower and protected maneuver.
|Example combinations of contiguous and noncontiguous areas of operations and linear and nonlinear operations.|
In its 2000 White Paper for Force XXI, the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) declared, "Transportation units must have enhanced survivability and communications with each other, customers, and distribution managers." This statement expresses very clearly the need for CSS units to have an assured communications capability that includes radios, the Combat Service Support Control System, and the MTS. With the MTS, headquarters units can redirect supplies, avoid problem areas, and improve the effectiveness of the supply and distribution systems. According to the CASCOM White Paper, "Truck companies need to be more heavily armed with MK-19s to provide convoy security . . ., so the basis of allocation for weapons must increase." Indeed, more firepower is required in CSS units. However, arming alone is not enough. If a vehicle is not designed to accommodate a heavy weapon or to shoot, move, and communicate, it cannot do its job in a firefight. For example, petroleum tankers should not have weapons firing from them, nor should other CSS vehicles serve as platforms for ring-mounted heavy weapons firing. Even hardening existing vehicles is not practical because of the nature of those vehicles and their intended purpose.
The answer could be as simple as equipping and manning CSS units to succeed in the future battlefield environment. This could be accomplished by placing a vehicle such as the interim armored vehicle or its equivalent in CSS units. That may be controversial, but it has merit because "no supplies means no shooting, moving, or communicating" for the maneuver elements. Without pushed supplies, combat and combat support troops will run out of fuel and ammunition and will surely "wither on the vine."
Future CSS concepts include more direct support to a division by EAD than ever before. They also call for the divisional CSS units to do more, with less, and in more locations than ever before. For the Army to be successful, it is essential that CSS units keep pace with force structure enablers. Future Army forces must be properly manned, equipped, and trained if they are expected to fulfill our Nation's needs while bringing back alive as many troops as possible. ALOG
Major Timothy Norton is the commandant of the Regional Training Site-Maintenance at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. He has a master's degree in management from Silver Lake College in Wisconsin and is a graduate of the Ordnance Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, and the Army Logistics Management College's Logistics Executive Development Course, for which he completed this article.