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‘Lily-Pad’ Basing Concept Put to the Test

As the Army transforms to an expeditionary force, a new concept called “lily-pad” basing is being developed for basing troops overseas. Under this concept, the United States would not have permanent, large-scale military installations in another country. Instead of building its own bases as it has in the past, the Army would use other countries’ existing facilities. It would have only a skeletal staff and an agreement with the host country that the base could be used as a forward operating base in a time of crisis. These “lily-pad” bases would be austere training and deployment sites often in areas not previously used for U.S. bases.

Can the Army’s new method of expeditionary operations be supported using the “lily-pad” basing concept? Soldiers of the 21st Theater Support Command (TSC) in Kaiserslautern, Germany, sought to answer that question. Their task was to deploy several hundred soldiers from Illinois to an austere location in Eastern Europe; provide those soldiers with food, fuel, and supplies; and allow them to train in preparation for a notional follow-on deployment to a combat or peacekeeping theater of operations. The operation took place in the Novo Selo Training Area in central Bulgaria in July and August 2004. About 1,300 soldiers, contractors, and host nation workers participated.

The objectives of the exercise were to—
• Test expeditionary force operations by moving troops from the continental United States and U.S. bases in Europe to an austere location and enabling them to conduct quality training.
• Build international relations with Bulgaria.
• Test the Bulgarian infrastructure’s potential for supporting future operations involving U.S. forces.

Novo Selo Training Area

U.S. Army Europe’s 18th Engineer Brigade served as the higher control for the exercise. Units from the 21st TSC formed Task Force Log and served as the core for the logistics support mission under the command and control of the 37th Transportation Command from Kaiserslautern, Germany. The 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital from Miesau, Germany, and the 236th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) from Landstuhl, Germany, provided medical support. The training unit was the 2–130 Infantry Battalion, an Illinois Army National Guard unit.

Local Bulgarian contractors—coordinated by Halliburton Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) and the U.S. Joint Contracting Command (JCC)—established the life support area at Novo Selo (shown above), consisting of facility tents (chapel; Army and Air Force Exchange Service; dining; and morale, welfare and recreation), sleep tents, and containerized headquarters buildings. KBR also provided services such as operation of the dining facility and upkeep of the life support area.

The Bulgarian economy supplied many products and services for the exercise. One exercise goal was to maximize host nation support and build relations with the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense (BMOD) using a statement of requirements and a North Atlantic Treaty Organization standardization agreement. However, the BMOD had only a few existing civil contracts and could not reliably establish new ones in time, so its contractual support was limited to the provision of bulk fuel, force protection augmentation, military vehicle support, and military liaison officers. The rest of the contracts were established by JCC or KBR. JCC contracted for laundry,

buses, MILVAN (military-owned, demountable container) and equipment line haul, mobile cell phones, copier service, and hotel rooms. KBR contracted for labor to set up the life support area, maintain the life support area, run the dining facility, and clean the camp.

Bulgaria’s infrastructure adequately supported the exercise and proved capable of supporting future U.S. exercises. Sofia and Burgas airports were used without problems, and a new highway that will reduce travel time is under construction from Burgas to the Novo Selo Training Area. The railhead in Zimnitsa was adequate for this exercise, accommodating wheeled and tracked vehicles. The Bezmer air base was used as a maintenance point for repair of UH–60 Black Hawk helicopters and has potential for future use.

Exercise Operations

The 7th Army Training Command, from Grafenwoehr, Germany, brought deployable intelligence support element instrumentation capable of instant, after-action review playback and observer-controller support to the exercise. These, along with radio-
operated targetry and sufficient class V (ammunition), provided an outstanding training event for the 2–130 Infantry Battalion and other units in the task force.
The four lanes (convoy situational training exercise [STX], live fire, military operations on urbanized terrain STX, and multipurpose range) provided training opportunities the battalion needed and were effective in improving unit readiness. Novo Selo Training Area could support Abrams tank and Bradley fighting vehicle qualification and company-level combined arms live fire exercises. It could support battalion force-on-force scenarios in future exercises.

The 37th Transportation Command was at the heart of the logistics operation. Its Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) headed Task Force Log and was instrumental in providing classes II (general supplies), IIIP (packaged petroleum, oils, and lubricants), IV (construction and barrier materials), and IX (repair parts) for the exercise. Each unit attached to Task Force Log played a vital role in the overall success of the operation.

Support Operations


Class I (subsistence) and water. KBR provided food and water. The 21st TSC provided a food-service technician to oversee the dining facility operation and ensure that the standards prescribed by Government regulations were met.

All food was brought in from Kosovo, where Army veterinarians were available to inspect food before it was shipped on refrigerated trucks. Many products, including eggs and yogurt, came from Denmark because Bulgaria had only three approved subsistence sources, two for water and one for bread. The Bulgarian economy is largely agricultural, so fruits and vegetables are very affordable. Most sell for $0.40 to $0.80 per kilogram ($0.18 to $0.36 per pound). Fresh Bulgarian produce could be exported easily into Kosovo for veterinary inspection, which generated savings for the Army in buying and shipping the produce and ensured the quality of produce received.

Class II. HHC, 37th Transportation Command, provided all units participating in the exercise with 30 days’ worth of general supplies. What could not be acquired before the exercise was purchased at local office supply stores, which allowed the unit to test the local economy and local infrastructure.


Class IV. Lumber was purchased for the 7th Army Training Command to build a training facility. Hundreds of pounds of lumber and 15,000 sandbags went into creating a training facility that provided first-class training support to the 2–130 Infantry Battalion and the 634th Forward Support Battalion, another Illinois Army National Guard Unit.

Class VII (major end items). Class VII items, including M997 ambulances, M149 water trailers, and weapons racks, were borrowed from the 200th Materiel Management Center in Kaiserslautern.

Class IIIP and class IX. HHC, 37th Transportation Command, and its direct support maintenance support team from the 5th Maintenance Company, 51st Maintenance Battalion, 29th Support Group, provided all necessary class IIIP and IX to support the 86 pieces of equipment used for the exercise. Each unit brought initial quantities of its authorized stockage list and prescribed load list to maintain the fleet that it supported. To replenish items used or to acquire additional items,

derivative DODAACs (Department of Defense Activity Address Codes) were established with Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, and supplies were shipped weekly to the Novo Selo Training Area using the Red Ball Express. [“Red Ball Express” is the term used by transportation units to refer to shipping supplies to an austere location. It commemorates the Red Ball Express of World War II.]

Class V. Ammunition for the exercise was shipped from the Miesau Ammuniton Depot in Germany and maintained by a team from the 191st Ordnance Battalion under the supervision of Task Force Log. Requisitions from the 2–130 Infantry Battalion and the 7th Army Training Command were filled and reconciled daily to ensure accountability for all live and blank ammunition and pyrotechnics.

Class VIII (medical materiel). Medical supplies and support were expertly managed by the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, the 160th Forward Surgical Team from Landstuhl, and the 236th Medical Company (Air Ambulance). Together, these doctors and senior medical personnel ensured that all critical areas were covered and all necessary supplies were acquired, transported, and stored.

Transportation. A movement control team from the 14th Transportation Battalion in Vicenza, Italy, ensured that all personnel and cargo moving from the continental United States and Central Europe arrived in Bulgaria safely and efficiently. The team accounted for each item and person and worked with Bulgarian customs officials to ensure seamless movement throughout every phase of the exercise. The movement control team was critical in working with the Bulgarian rail officials to refurbish much of the railcar fleet that was used to transport the equipment back into Central Europe.

Maintenance support. One of Task Force Log’s major activities was maintenance of the equipment used during the exercise. Included were vehicles for the convoy STX lanes, maintenance support vehicles, explosive ordnance disposal support vehicles, and vehicles used to push ammunition and logistics support to the training lanes.
The lessons learned during this exercise will play a key role in conducting future exercises and planning for future basing in Eastern Europe. From its experience in Bulgaria, the 37th Transportation Command determined that it could adapt quickly to handle such missions in the future.

The Bulgarian military and civilian communities were eager to work with U.S. forces. Their flexibility helped make the operation a success in both training and international relations. Task Force Log also showed that the Army’s expeditionary force concept could be supported logistically and operationally. ALOG


Captain David C. Chandler, Jr., is the Commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 37th Transportation Command, in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from King’s College in Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course and the Combined Arms and Services Staff School.