I have been in command of a wartime host nation support ammunition company for 5 months now. I have noticed several problems and am proposing a possible solution.
The Army is fooling itself regarding ammunition in the Korean theater. The United States is relying on a poorly designed wartime host nation support concept that stores wartime ammunition for U.S. units and wartime ammunition that the U.S. Government will hand over to the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA). Under this concept during wartime, six units with 15 soldiers and varying number of Korean National (KN) and Korean Service Corps (KSC) members are supposed to provide the ammunition support for the theater until real direct support (DS) ammunition companies arrive in country. These 15-soldier units are not authorized the materials handling equipment (MHE) needed to move and handle the ammunition. With only 15 personnel weapons, these units rely on the Koreans for base defense as well as to provide personnel and the MHE to move the ammunition. This system is not effectivethese units cannot perform their wartime mission.
If the U.S. units are designed only to provide accountability and surveillance of the ammunition, that is all we equip them forthe U. S. Government could contract this job to the Koreans. We are doing this at continental U.S. (CONUS) posts. During peacetime, the mission of the wartime host nation support units is to act as liaisons between U.S. units needing ammunition and the Korean units who store the ammunition. Do we really need the extra bureaucracy in the ammunition community? No, we do not. U.S. units needing ammunition could go to the ROKA ammunition supply points and deal directly with the Koreans to get their training ammunition.
Or we could maintain control of ammunition operations on the peninsula by bringing two ammunition ordnance companies to the Korean theater; there is enough mission for two DS ammunition companies. The first company should be a DS ammunition company with a platoon in the Camp Red Cloud area, a platoon at Camp Page or Camp Long, and a platoon with company headquarters at Camp Humphreys. This company would provide direct support to the warfighting units in the north and should be assigned to the 501st Corps Support Group. The platoon at Camp Humphreys would be given the follow-on mission of beginning to develop the corps storage area for the western corridor, while the two forward platoons would operate ASP's in the 2d Infantry Division rear.
The second ammunition company should be divided between Taegu and Pusan. This company would provide direct support to the units in their area and operate the port facility as needed during peacetime. The company would rotate into the wartime missions of sustainment operations at the port, support the reception, staging, onward movement, and integration mission, and develop and then hand over the theater storage area mission to a CONUS reserve ammunition unit. This unit should be assigned to a multifunctional support battalion in one of the rear area support groups.
This two-company concept would allow the ammunition companies to support the ground component command until the theater has fully matured. As the theater develops, the 6th Ordnance Battalion should be a reserve unit brought into the theater as the need for a functional ammunition battalion develops in the theater.
With this concept, the Army would realize an increased level of support and a reduction of senior grade personnel strength. This change would eliminate four billets (one lieutenant colonel, one command sergeant major, and two majors), reduce the captain billets from nine to two, and reduce the first sergeant and chief warrant officer(W-3) billets from 6 to 2. Although there would be an increase in the number of E1 to E4 billets, the units currently employ a large number of Koreans, both KN and KSC. The number of KN and KSC employees would decrease with the increase of enlisted billets, thus decreasing the multimillion-dollar KN employment budget that the battalion currently uses to accomplish its mission.
CPT Michael R. Molino, Camp Page, Korea
Revisiting Ammunition Management
I am an ordnance officer stationed in Korea rather than at Redstone Arsenal and therefore, according to Dr. Robert M. Ford, not one of the best or brightest ordnance officers in the force. It is perhaps because of my lesser intelligence that I don't understand several of the points that Dr. Ford made in his commentary on page 41 of the September-October 1998 issue.
Dr. Ford's commentary was a response to an article in the May-June 1998 Army Logistician suggesting that we change two related facets of the munitions branch of the Ordnance Corps. In the May piece, Mr. Rayburn recommended that we transfer the responsibility for ammunition-related issues to the Quartermaster Corps and, concurrently, that ammunition training move from Redstone Arsenal to Fort Lee. The end state of this consolidation would be a properly aligned supply system and a more cost-effective training base.
Dr. Ford suggested that conducting ammunition training at Fort Lee would: one, cost the same as at Redstone because we would be teaching the same subjects to the same students; and two, be impractical since one needs a demolition range for explosive ordnance training.
Simple logic suggests that this is only half of the story. Consolidating supply training at Fort Lee would not directly save training dollars, but would save administrative funds. Indeed, this concept is the driving force behind base realignment and closure (BRAC). By moving ammunition management training to Fort Lee, we can leverage the benefits of the facilities and resources at Fort Lee to offer our soldiers a superior training environment, eliminate an entire training brigade staff, and reduce the support structure at Redstone by several hundred positions.
As to the issue of explosive ordnance training, I recommend that we expand on what is already well established joint training and move the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) phase I to Eglin Air Force Base. Our EOD experts already do part of their training at Eglin; why not more? Were we to make these two moves, we could, as Mr. Rayburn suggested, save millions of dollars.
Dr. Ford also made an impassioned plea not to put ammunition under the auspices of the Quartermaster Corps. He cited an example of the challenges he faced as a supply and services battalion S3 NCOIC as a reason why not to make this move. I found his vignette to be less than insightful. There is no doubt that each class of supply offers its own unique challenges. However, what Mr. Rayburn recommended was merely changing the proponent branch for ammunition, a far cry from making 55B's into 76W's or 92A's.
Dr. Ford continues to argue that, since the Ordnance Corps has managed ammunition for over 200 years, we should continue this practice. I am not sure that this is wise. Instead of keeping with tradition for the sake of that tradition, I believe that we should align our class V managers with the class I, II, III, IV, VI, VII, IX, and X managers. Too often ammunition management in the field is slighted because it is out of the purview of those who manage the rest of the Army's supplies. It is time to correct this oversight. Mr. Rayburn's recommendations are on target. His ideas deserve support from the schoolhouse, not ridicule.
CPT Charles B. King III, Camp Kwangsari, Korea
I am the commander of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, in Panama. My company is the CH-47D company in theater, which supports USARSO and SOUTHCOM.
In your ALOG News article (March-April 1999, page 1), "Relief Operations in Honduras Rely on Hub-and-Spoke Logistics," you misidentified the aviation units responsible for the disaster relief in Honduras. My company--aviators, flight engineers, and crew chiefs--along with the battalion's UH-60 companies (Alpha and Delta) and 214th MEDEVAC, all participated in the Hurricane Mitch disaster relief operation. Alpha Company, Charlie Company, and half of 214th MEDEVAC are stationed in Panama (Fort Kobbe). Delta Company and 214th MEDEVAC (forward) are stationed in Honduras (Soto Cano Airbase).
Your article states, "The supplies are moved by CH-47 Chinook helicopters from Company C, 159th Aviation Regiment, and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Company D, 228th Aviation regiment (both units from Fort Bragg, North Carolina)." While it is true that C Company, 159th, is from Fort Bragg and did participate in the exercise, D Company is not from Fort Bragg, but is part of the 228th "Winged Warrior" battalion. Also, what should have been noted is that CH-47's from C Company, 1-228th, and UH-60's from A Company, 1-228th Aviation Regiment, participated in the operation. The Winged Warrior battalion has the first U.S. aviation assets to react and participate in disaster relief missions in Honduras and Nicaragua. Our soldiers deserve the same recognition that the soldiers from Fort Bragg received.
CPT Gregory Polizzi, Fort Kobbe, Panama
Editor's Note: The Army Logistician staff sent a note to Captain Polizzi apologizing for the misinformation we published about his unit. We do recognize the 1-228th Aviation Regiment's important role in the Hurricane Mitch relief effort. Our apologies to the soldiers of the battalion.
The Purchasing Revolution
I read, with considerable interest, all of the articles in the January-February 1999 issue of ALOG magazine. I feel a need to comment on two of them.
The first article was titled "Government Purchase Cards: Putting the `U' Back Into Purchasing" by Bruce Sullivan. The article was excellent, however, some of Mr. Sullivan's statements should be clarified.
The first statement is, "At the same time, the supply manager captured demand statistics for the item, which would be used to determine whether or not it should be added to local inventories to meet future needs." The word "captured" used in past tense may imply to some Government purchase card users that demands need not be captured for items so purchased. This is not entirely accurate. While the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics has lifted the requirement to capture demands for nonstandard, nonstocked, commercial off-the-shelf items, they have not done so for national stock number (NSN) items listed in the Army Master Data File.
The second statement that needs clarifying is, "This means that a cardholder can buy a centrally managed item by ordering directly from the supplier if it is less expensive or can be obtained faster than through the supply system." Again, this statement is not entirely accurate. A cardholder can buy an asset directly from the supplier (I interpret this as commercial vendor) only after he submits a valid requisition to the appropriate national inventory control point (NICP), receives a supply status code that authorizes local purchase or shows the estimated delivery date will not meet the required delivery date, and the commander determines that readiness will be adversely impacted. Further, while Mr. Sullivan did not touch on this, in order to avoid a funds violation, extreme care must be exercised to ensure that all purchases of NSN items are processed through the Army Working Capital Fund or that credit is not granted at time of turn-in of the item for disposal or repair.
The second article, titled "A-Mart: Army Shopping On Line" by Jodi Santamaria, again was excellent. Both the Army A-Mart and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) EMall have great potential to enable direct vendor delivery, thus reducing depot stockage levels. I do have a couple of concerns. First, any order placed against these purchase mechanisms should be password protected in order to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. (DLA is working toward that end. Hopefully, AMC will also.) Second, there must be an automatic feedback from the NICP to the respective supply support activity to capture demands in SARSS and ULLS, and to process the appropriate financial transactions.
I don't want to be misunderstood; both A-Mart and EMall have tremendous potential. I think we all should throw our full support behind their development. However, caution would dictate that neither of these systems be used to order supplies until the shortcomings are resolved. In fact, that is Forces Command's published position.
Thomas R. Welch, Fort McPherson, Georgia
New Ways to Shop
I enjoyed the article on the IMPAC card in your 30th Anniversary Issue (January-February 1999, page 28) . This is one of the best methods of purchasing items I have seen in a long time. I have been a loggie in USAREC-Great Lakes for 23 years, running the battalion S4 as a civilian. I've done more DA 3953's and SF 44's than I care to think about. Now I don't have to talk to the contracting folks as often. This saves them much time and makes my log life so much easier. We can get the things we need now with less hassle and less paperwork. This keeps the troops happy knowing that I can support them with what they need in a timely manner, provided the money is available.
I'll try the A-Mart as soon as I have access to the Internet.
Les Bentley, Lansing, Michigan
Support Versus Sustain
I can't tell you how refreshing it was to pick up your November-December issue at the British Army School of Logistics and read Mike Sparks' letter, "Sustainment, not Support Units." It seems ironic that our two armies are so diverse in some respects and yet so similar in others.
The Royal Logistic Corps has only been formed just over 5 years, but since its inception the motto has been, "We Sustain." While we too have followed the idea of service "support" units, with our sustainment motto (which we inherited from the Army Catering Corps), we hopefully maintain our focus on the vital lifeblood, which is army logistics.
Mr. Sparks is accurate in his assertion that "support" appears to be very much a second-fiddle concept, implying that logisticians rely in some way on the combat arms, whereas "sustainment" implies an indivisible umbilical cord between the two. Because we have learned to embrace "mission command" as an essential tenet of the maneuverist approach to warfighting, army logisticians can feel comfortable at all levels in using in the mission statement "in order to sustain X Brigade or Division."
The stated aim of the Royal Logistic Corps is "to sustain the soldier in peace and war," and it is a sound concept which we should endorse on both sides of the Atlantic.
CPT Matthew Dietz, RLC, North Yorkshire, England
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