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FUNDING ISSUES SLOW GCSS-ARMY RELEASE
Preliminary release of the Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army) Maintenance and Supply/Property modules has been delayed because of a lack of funding for the test and evaluation (T&E) phases of the acquisition process. Current funding and development projections now indicate a second quarter 2001 release date. It is possible that T&E activities may begin this fiscal year as funding becomes available.
FIELDING THE GCSS-ARMY: ONE ARMY, ONE DEPLOYMENT STRATEGY
Fielding new equipment in the Army is, of course, more than issuing major end items to units. Fielding involves numerous tasks to integrate the equipment into the units, including training soldiers and units to work in new ways and to develop new procedures or infrastructures as necessary.
New equipment fielding essentially represents the realization of a materiel solution to a problem on the battlefield. For instance, the need for greater maneuverability and firepower brought about the development of the M1 Abrams tank and its associated combat vehicles and support systems. The development and fielding of GCSS-Army will assist in enabling the emerging Revolution in Military Logistics and distribution-based logistics concepts.
Fielding new hardware and software for GCSS-Army is, in itself, revolutionary, because the strategy is to deliver equipment to, and conduct systems training for, the Total Army based on the Army's articulated priorities rather than by component (active Army, Army National Guard, or Army Reserve).
This concept initially caused raised eyebrows since the prevalent notion was that, in warfighting or contingency operations, the Army employed the active component first and then the reserve components as needed. This notion, however, is inaccurate, given the Army's growing reliance on the reserve components over the last 25 years. Today, the formation of forces under the Digitized Division, Digitized Corps, and Force XXI concepts calls for an even greater integration of the active and reserve components. To support these modernization initiatives, the GCSS-Army fielding strategy required modifications to the Army equipping policy. The Department of the Army (DA) approved an Order of Precedence directive that allows the fielding strategy to deviate from the DA Master Priority List and to field regionally. In essence, the GCSS-Army fielding strategy brings the process more in line with real life, in which active and reserve units work together and often deploy together, as they did in the Middle East, Haiti, and Bosnia.
The traditional fielding model, which normally involves sending mobile training teams from installation to installation to deliver training, is replaced by a strategy to establish longer term training and support activities on a regional basis. GCSS-Army regional support centers (RSC's) (not to be confused with AR regional support commands) coordinate and distribute equipment, schedule and conduct training, and provide sustainment support for systems operating in their respective region. Planners envision the creation of 21 RSC's17 in the continental United States and 4 overseas, anchored on active or reserve component installations to serve multistate regions.
Key to fielding success is each RSC's ability to exercise flexibility while adhering to hard schedules, targets, and milestones. To accomplish this, each RSC will have to establish and maintain coordinating relationships within its region for all components.
In Texas, for example, Fort Hood, with its high concentration of troops, could serve as the focal point for fielding to the larger geographic area around it. Fielding to all of Texas from Fort Hood, however, would be physically and logistically impractical, given the density and geographic dispersion of reserve component units in Texas. The flexibility of the RSC's would allow them to establish additional or supplementary training sites in San Antonio, Camp Mabry, Red River, Corpus Christi, or even at armories in Dallas or Houston as necessary. The advantage of the regional strategy is the establishment of long-term training and support relationships with area units, thereby maximizing decentralized execution and customer orientation.
Fielding of GCSS-Army, like the system itself, will change how the Army does business. The success of this fielding strategy depends very much on the level of active participation by each component, the level of detailed planning and preparation, and the ability of soldiers and units to cope with change.