by Major Ray W. McCarver, Jr.
Joint logistics planning is a difficult task for even the most talented logistics planners, regardless of service affiliation. Each service has its own unique requirements, techniques, doctrine, and capabilities, as well as its own terminology. Some of the most challenging aspects of joint logistics planning are the cultural differences and prejudices that exist among the services as they relate to one another.
At Combined Forces Command (CFC), Korea, the difficulty of logistics planning increases exponentially as you enter the world of combined logistics planning. At that level, not only do you have the same obstacles as a joint logistics planner, but you also face an entirely new set of variables that demand your attention, patience, and adaptability. Language barriers, doctrinal disparities, and cultural differences in problem solving must be surmounted. In an effort to overcome these obstacles, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) J4 (Director of Logistics) and the CFC C4 (a Republic of Korea [ROK] two-star general whose duties are similar to those of the USFK J4) decided to conduct a Combined and Joint Logistics Seminar (C/JLS). The intent of the seminar was to bring together logistics planners from each service, country, and organization that had an impact on a clearly defined planning target, which, in this case, was logistics.
The first C/JLS was conducted in February at CFC Headquarters at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, Korea. Participants included over 155 ROK officers and U.S. officers representing service components in Korea, Japan, Hawaii, and the continental United States. For 4 days, the C/JLS focused on combined and joint theater distribution and sustainment in the Korean theater of operations (KTO).
The purpose of the CFC is to deter war; however, in the event of hostilities, it must be able to transition rapidly to decisive military operations. Theater distribution and sustainment in support of operations, both defensive and offensive, in the KTO are extremely complex and arduous. The terrain poses the biggest challenge: north-south movement is limited to long, narrow valley corridors, and east-west movement is inhibited by mountains.
Further complicating operations and logistics support is an extremely limited transportation infrastructure. Although hard-surfaced roads do exist, the majority of Korean roads are unimproved. Both coasts present challenges to conducting logistics-over-the-shore (LOTS) operations, with the west coast being particularly difficult because of extended mudflats and narrow channels. Aerial resupply and delivery are restricted because of limited airfields and highway runway strips and the extremely mountainous terrain.
The CFC Logistics Policies and Procedures Manual states that logistics is a service and a national responibility. However, in a combined fight, and to overcome the multiple sustainment distribution challenges presented in the KTO, CFC logistics planners must be prepared to cross boundaries and leverage all capabilities, both joint and combined, to maintain the momentum of combat operations. This will require theater logistics planners to identify all logistics capabilities available to support ground, air, and sea operations. They must understand clearly the field armies' and corps' schemes of maneuver and concepts of support, including both ROK and U.S. logistics operations doctrine. The most difficult part is marrying up the theater's joint logistics capabilities with the support concepts of the field armies and corps in a way that will provide the maneuver forces with the logistics required to conduct decisive operations.
Over a 4-day period, the C/JLS used a "building block" approach to engage these planning issues.
Since it is critical for planners to know and understand all available logistics capabilities, each U.S. service component presented their service's unique capabilities to support combined and joint operations on the first day of the seminar. Because the ROK services are limited primarily to supporting their own operations, the briefings were conducted by the U.S. components exclusively.
The Air Force discussed establishing and using forward operating bases (FOB's) in support of ground operations. Should ground lines of communication become degraded or cut, existing airfields and highway airstrips in the KTO could provide critical logistics nodes for transferring supplies and personnel quickly. Theater planners must know and understand what is needed to establish an FOB. The primary requirements are ground security, engineering support for repairing and improving the runways, and materials-handling equipment.
The Navy briefing focused on LOTS operations and provided a detailed analysis of LOTS equipment and the available capabilities and limitations of LOTS operations due to weather and sea state. Because LOTS operations can be conducted even where there are no ports or where existing ports are austere or damaged, this capability provides tremendous flexibility for logistics planners in moving both forces and supplies. In order for the Navy to conduct LOTS operations, enemy coastal defenses must be neutralized, and mine-clearing operations must be conducted before LOTS operations begin.
The Army briefed the group on the LOTS capabilities it brings to the theater and its responsibilities to provide common-item support to other services. Army LOTS capabilities include rapid movement of equipment and supplies over coastal and inland waterways. This capability represents a robust tool for conducting logistics operations. Some common-item support that the Army provides for the other services' inland forces includes all classes of supply; medical, mortuary affairs, and real estate support; theater movement control; and interagency coordination.
The Marine Corps conducted the final briefing on day one. Although the Marines' capability to support logistics operations outside their own internal support is limited, they do bring to the table years of experience and real-time knowledge of LOTS operations. They have significant aviation support assets that could be used in combined and joint operations.
At the end of day one, the logistics planners had a clear understanding of all of the tools available to support operations in the KTO.
While planning the seminar, the C4 staff devoted significant time and effort to developing a field army and corps "concepts of support" briefing format. The G1/G4 Battle Book, an Army Command and General Staff College product, proved to be the best source of information. One of the key principles of a concept of support is synchronization with the concept of the operation. Theater logistics planners needed an intimate understanding of the commander's concept of the operation to employ effectively all of the logistics capabilities that had been discussed during day one of the seminar. The approved briefing format included the field armies' and corps' mission statements, the support units' mission statements, the operational scheme of maneuver, and a combat service support overlay depicting support unit movements to provide bulk class III (petroleum, oils, and lubricants), class V (ammunition), maintenance, and transportation. Supply and services requirements, capabilities, and shortfalls also were presented.
On the second day of the seminar, the field armies and corps briefed their concepts of support. The briefings proved to be valuable tools for all logistics planners and senior officers in attendance. There was a lot of discussion among the various staffs. With a clear understanding of the scheme of maneuver across the battlespace, logistics planners could choose the most favorable terrain for conducting logistics operations.
Days Three and Four
By the end of day two, C/JLS participants had been briefed on all of the combined and joint logistics capabilities available to support operations, and they had a clear understanding of the scheme of maneuver and concepts of support of the field armies and corps. On the third day of the seminar, participants were divided into five working groups that were chartered to develop courses of action and recommend the best way to accomplish the difficult task of marrying logistics capabilities to the concept of operations. The five working groups were LOTS, supplemental lines of communication, aerial resupply and delivery, theater main supply routes, and log base planning.
Functional experts from each service and nation comprised the working groups. The groups spent the whole day discussing and debating their issues, and there was cross talk among them when issues overlapped. By the end of day three, each working group had developed a briefing that presented issues, courses of action, and recommendations.
The fourth day of the seminar brought all participants back together, and the working groups provided an out-brief on their issues. Issues and recommendations identified by the working groups were captured by the CFC staff for further development and incorporation into future plans.
The C/JLS provided an excellent forum for U.S. and ROK logisticians to exchange information and discuss logistics planning for current operations. Participants left the seminar with a better understanding of logistics plans. They were able to identify logistics constraints and methods to overcome them and to develop a plan of action to improve logistics support. Because the seminar was so successful, the decision was made to make it an annual event with a different, clearly defined target each year. ALOG
Major Ray W. (Bill) McCarver, Jr., is assigned to the Combined Forces Command C4 as a logistics planner. He has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Jacksonville State University and has attended the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Quartermaster Officer Advanced Course, and the Army Command and General Staff College.