In the first of two articles on joint theater
concepts for the U.S. European Command area of
the author reviews the need for
centralized logistics command and control.
This article expresses the views of the author, not the Department
of Defense or any of its agencies.
Department of Defense (DOD) logistics transformation efforts
and evolving joint and combined operational concepts have increased
expectations for dramatically improved logistics operations
through more effective, efficient, and responsive use of available
theater resources. The planned force drawdown in Europe will
cause the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) service components
to depend increasingly on one another for logistics support.
The service components can no longer afford to retain redundant
force structure where joint efficiencies can be gained. However,
providing joint logistics presents problems that must be addressed
to ensure that joint logistics operations are effective and
of the 173d Airborne Brigade inspect Container Delivery
System bundles before loading them onto a C–130J
Joint Logistics Problems
Findings from a variety of joint and service-sponsored assessments cite shortcomings
to operational effectiveness because there is no joint theater logistics command
or management capability. Relevant observations from the Office of the Secretary
of Defense, the Joint Staff, the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the U.S. Central
Command (CENTCOM) Deployment and Distribution Operations Center, the Defense Science Board, and the Army Science Board can
be summarized in the following five categories—
• Lack of a joint logistics organization to ensure that joint logistics
functions are executed in support of the theater. Joint Publication (JP) 4.0,
Doctrine for Logistic Support of Joint Operations, outlines joint theater-level
logistics functions, including supply; maintenance; transportation; civil engineering;
health services; and other services, such as life support, postal, and finance.
However, execution of these functions is typically characterized by “ad
hocery” and discovery learning.
• Lack of a theater-level logistics commander. The combatant commander
(COCOM) is responsible for theater-level logistics functions, but no subordinate
commander is charged with executing that mission. A joint theater logistics commander
is needed to provide theater logistics command and control, thereby freeing the
COCOM and his J–4 to plan and coordinate long-range effects. Without an
empowered logistics commander, the COCOM has no assurance that logistics operations
are effectively monitored, executed, and managed and optimizing joint logistics
capabilities in the theater is difficult, if not impossible.
• Inability to execute directive authority for logistics (DAFL). DAFL is
a unique component of COCOM authority. Effective joint logistics cannot be achieved
based on an expectation of cooperation among the services; it must be based on
the COCOM’s exercising directive authority through subordinate commanders.
• Lack of logistics command and control. A logistics command and control
organization is essential to making COCOM DAFL a reality. To be effective, DAFL
must be a command function, not a staff function.
• The COCOM’s inability to see requirements and respond with the
Each of these observations highlights the fact that the rate of change in logistics
has failed to keep pace with the rate of change in the nature of warfare. In
a 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization Research Fellowship Paper, “Coalitions
of the Willing: NATO and Post-Cold War Military Intervention,” Robert P.
Grant predicted, “Military operations will become even more joint or interservice
in nature, and continued movement towards increasingly joint military structures
will take place as well.” Although the first part of this prediction has
proven true, the second has not. Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom
have attested to the new nature of joint warfare, but the services continue to
provide logistics support in a Cold War-era, service-stovepiped manner.
EUCOM service component logistics operations have evolved over the years to meet
their own service-unique missions and statutory responsibilities. For single-service
operations, an organic logistics arrangement is generally sufficient to achieve
mission success. However, in joint operations, stovepiped component logistics
systems are often incompatible, redundant, and ineffective for rapidly responding
to the ever-changing priorities of the EUCOM commander.
The Joint Staff J–4 has concluded that, since the inception of joint military
operations, joint theater logistics management often has been ineffective and
inefficient. Logisticians are slow to gain visibility of requirements, and the
means to quickly fill them are frustrated. It is difficult, if not impossible,
to monitor joint operational logistics capabilities as they move from their source
through strategic lines of communication and tactical levels to meet joint force
objectives. This problem is exacerbated by the operational tempo of the Global
War on Terrorism.
Real-Life Iraqi Freedom Problems
EUCOM support to Operation Iraqi Freedom provided a classic example of the problems
that can arise when the COCOM does not have a single organization designated
to manage joint theater logistics. In late 2002, EUCOM began deploying personnel
to Ankara, Turkey, as part of EUCOM (Forward). Each EUCOM directorate sent personnel
to plan and coordinate troop movement through Turkey into Iraq. The arrangement
was ad hoc, with personnel rotating in and out daily. Each service, such as U.S.
Army Europe (USAREUR) and U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), also sent a team
to Turkey to coordinate directly with the Turkish General Staff and to collaborate
with the EUCOM J–4 (Forward). These missions were disjointed, had no clear
objectives or continuity, and failed to provide a single face to the Turkish
In March 2003, CENTCOM tasked EUCOM, as a supporting COCOM, to provide operational-level
logistics support to the 173d Airborne Brigade from Vicenza, Italy, and Joint
Special Operations Task Force-North forces operating in northern Iraq. EUCOM,
in turn, tasked USAREUR and USAFE separately to execute the deployment and sustainment.
However, without a single logistics commander overseeing the effort, confusion
abounded. For example, when the Air Mobility Command pulled the tanker airlift
control element out of Oguzeli, Turkey, it was unclear whether USAREUR or USAFE
would provide a backfill capability.
Sustainment flow from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to northern Iraq switched from
common-user channel support to contingency support and then back to channel support.
The procedures for documenting the cargo and prioritizing and tracking the flow
switched accordingly. The sustainment flights from Ramstein to northern Iraq
supported both the 173d Airborne Brigade and Joint Special Operations Task Force-North.
However, no one on the EUCOM staff was setting priorities of flow for the two
customers. As a result, the 18 available pallet positions on the daily air transport
were filled on a first-in-first-out basis rather than giving priority to supporting
the customer that was more engaged in the fight. Using the first-in-first-out
process often resulted in critical air capacity being wasted on nonessential
Joint Logistics Management
Some logistics business processes lend themselves to joint efficiencies; others
do not. Logistics capabilities fall into three categories: service independent,
service interdependent, and service interoperable. Service independent processes,
such as naval replenishment at sea, are unique to a single service and are not
candidates for joint logistics. Service interdependent processes are those in
which multiple services depend on one another to accomplish a task. A good example
is aerial port throughput, in which the Air Force lands the planes and discharges
the cargo and the Army stages the cargo and clears the port. Service interdependent
processes lend themselves to joint management and control. Service interoperable
processes are those in which multiple services share a redundant capability,
such as contingency contracting. With interoperable processes, common servicing
or cross-servicing improves the efficiency of the operation. This also requires
joint management and control.
Many logisticians agree that joint management and control increase synchronization
and reduce redundancy in interdependent and interoperable processes. The Joint
Theater Logistics Management Implementation Plan published by the Joint Staff
concluded that common-user, cross-functional, and joint-functional assets and
capabilities may be appropriately managed and controlled centrally at the COCOM
J–4 level or by a joint theater logistics command (JTLC) rather than delegated
to individual component commands.
EUCOM J–4 briefings state that efforts to improve theater logistics rely
on several self-evident truths. First, a joint organizational construct must
possess and execute DAFL. Second, this organization must use the reachback capabilities
of the national logistics partners and the inherent capabilities of the service
components. Finally, this organization must synchronize joint efforts to execute
inherently joint tasks. Joint management and control does not require execution
of inherently joint tasks associated with these processes, but rather synchronization
of the execution. Synchronization requires visibility over each component’s
role in the process and the authority to direct service components to cross-level
capabilities and assets as necessary to support the COCOM’s priorities.
Managing logistics processes at the joint level is a daunting task for the COCOM.
However, failure to do so will result in redundancies and a lack of synchronization
of processes eligible for joint management. The COCOM needs a control mechanism
empowered with the legal authority to exercise DAFL on his behalf.
Logistics authorities have their legal basis in U.S. Code (USC) and their prescribed
application in joint doctrine. Title 10, USC, chapter 6, section 165(b), describes
the statutory requirement for the individual military departments to provide
logistics support to forces assigned to the COCOMs. Section 164 of the same chapter
describes the COCOM’s combatant command authority (also called COCOM).
Title 10 describes COCOM authority as the basic authority to perform those functions
of command that involve organizing and employing commands and forces, assigning
tasks, designating objectives, and “giving authoritative direction to subordinate
commands and forces necessary to carry out missions assigned to the command,
including authoritative direction over all aspects of military operations, joint
training, and logistics” (emphasis added). Thus, DAFL is derived from the
COCOM authority of section 164. The purpose of DAFL, according to Joint Publication
0–2, Unified Action Armed Forces, is to ensure the “effective execution
of approved operation plans; effectiveness and economy of operation; and prevention
or elimination of unnecessary duplication of facilities and overlapping of functions
among the Service component commands.”
Although COCOM authority (and by extension DAFL) cannot be delegated or transferred
without Presidential or Secretary of Defense approval, it can be exercised through
subordinate joint force commanders and service or functional component commanders.
Since DAFL is an element of command authority, its exercise also should be restricted
to commanders rather than to staff
elements such as the J–4.
JP 0–2 gives a unified commander the authority to establish functional
component commands in order to “integrate planning; reduce . . . span of
control; and/or significantly improve combat efficiency, information flow, unity
of effort, weapon systems management, (or) component interaction.” If a
COCOM determines that logistics processes within his theater can be better synchronized
and more efficient, he can establish a JTLC in accordance with JP 0–2 and
specifically authorize the JTLC to exercise DAFL on his behalf for as many common
support capabilities as required to accomplish the JTLC’s mission. Common
support capabilities and the corresponding logistics authority may be defined
as broadly or as narrowly as the COCOM desires.
Therefore, while overall responsibility for logistics support remains with the
individual service components, the COCOM may exercise DAFL to promote synchronization
of logistics support. Furthermore, the COCOM has the requisite legal authority
to establish a JTLC to exercise DAFL on his behalf. However, this is only one
of the logistics support options available to the COCOM.
example of an interdependent operation, an Airman
from the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and
Soldiers from the 173d Airborne Brigade load Container
System bundles onto a
C–130J transport for
an equipment drop.
Logistics Support Options
COCOMs may choose from a variety of logistics support options
to fulfill the needs of their areas of responsibility (AORs).
The logistics support system
operate in harmony with the structure and employment of the combat forces it
supports. Whenever feasible, chains of command and staffs in a non-contingency
environment should be organized as they would be in wartime to avoid reorganization
in the midst of a contingency. Options for support include—
Each service component provides its own logistics.
Title 10, USC, chapter 6,
section 165(b), requires the individual military departments to provide logistics
support to their forces assigned to the COCOMs.
Having each service provide its own logistics yields clear command and control
arrangements, alleviates Title 10 concerns, and gives the component commander
the greatest logistics flexibility. However, this method results in redundancy
and wasted resources while limiting the flexibility of the COCOM. This is the
current method of choice in the EUCOM AOR, except for common-user functions
identified in EUCOM Directive 60–11, Common User Logistics in the USEUCOM
AOR, and the functional logistics boards, centers, and offices at the EUCOM
A lead service oversees common-user logistics functions.
is defined in JP 1–02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and
Associated Terms, as “Materiel or service support shared with or provided
by two or more Services, Department of Defense (DOD) agencies, or multinational
partners to another Service, DOD agency, non-DOD agency, and/or multinational
partner in an operation. Common-user logistics is usually restricted to a particular
type of supply and/or service and may be further restricted to specific unit(s)
or types of units, specific times, missions, and/or geographic areas.” EUCOM
Directive 60–11 assigns lead service and agency responsibilities for
seven functions (aerial ports, ocean cargo terminals, organic military highways,
traffic management, mortuary services, and base operations support) in 33 countries
(resulting in 231 total assignments), which still does not cover the entire
AOR. With the potential for short-notice expeditionary operations to new countries,
sorting out lead service and agency responsibilities can waste precious time.
The COCOM would not have a single organization responsible for logistics, but
rather various services or agencies to which a laundry list of functions are
parceled out in unequal measures.
CENTCOM tried to use a lead-service arrangement for contracting but found this
method less desirable than a joint contracting command. CENTCOM stated during
a joint theater logistics meeting hosted by the Joint Staff that the lead-service
arrangement had no mechanism for tracking contingency contracting purchases.
Contracting officers were empowered by their services to spend operations and
maintenance funds. These expenditures often were not in line with COCOM priorities,
and there was virtually no visibility on this spending.
An appointed executive agent provides logistics support to all services.
Executive agency is similar in nature to a lead service for common-user logistics but
differs in level of appointment. “Executive agent” is a term used to indicate
a delegation of authority by the Secretary of Defense to a subordinate, such
as a military department or Defense agency, to act on the Secretary’s behalf.
Designation as an executive agent, in and of itself, confers no authority. The
exact nature and scope of the authority delegated must be stated in the document
designating the executive agent. An executive agent may only provide administration
and support or coordinate common functions, or it may be delegated authority,
direction, and control over specified resources for specified purposes. Executive
agency, like a lead-service arrangement, reduces redundancy but results in fragmented
responsibility. Since executive agency is designated by the Secretary of Defense
to the services themselves, it may not be in line with a COCOM’s needs
or desires for logistics organization.
An expanded J–4 staff coordinates joint logistics effects.
The COCOM may
choose to coordinate joint logistics effects through his J–4 staff. EUCOM
has had several operational-level centers and offices, including the Intratheater
Commercial Transportation Branch, the Joint Movements Center, the Joint Petroleum
Office, and the Joint Blood Program Office. In May 2005, EUCOM established the
EUCOM Deployment and Distribution Operations Center (EDDOC) by combining the
Intratheater Commercial Transportation Branch and the Joint Movements Center.
The EDDOC enhances the J–4’s ability to link strategic deployment
and distribution processes to operational requirements.
In a contingency, the EDDOC’s scope expands to include the Joint Logistics
Operations Center, which oversees engineering, materiel readiness, contracting,
fuel, and ammunition functions. Unfortunately, to exercise any semblance of DAFL,
the EDDOC must prepare a tasking message for the J–3 to issue to the component
commands. Although expanding the J–4 staff to achieve joint effects should
result in a clear understanding of J–3 guidance and priorities, placing
the operational burden on the J–4 staff results in a cumbersome application
of DAFL and diminishes the staff’s ability to concentrate on long-range
A JTLC coordinates joint logistics effects.
The COCOM’s fifth option is
to create a single logistics command responsible for coordinating and executing
joint theater logistics. This reduces the redundancies that exist when each
service component provides its own logistics, gives the COCOM a single organization
integrate, prioritize, and synchronize joint theater logistics, improves coordination
with coalition partners, and provides a command and control architecture that
can rapidly expand and deploy during a large-scale contingency. Potential disadvantages
include a loss of flexibility and control by service components, increased
service manpower costs if the JTLC fails to eliminate duplication of effort,
and a perceived
layering of logistics authority.
U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) is currently experimenting with the concept of a joint
logistics command for the Korean peninsula. In partnership with the U.S. Joint
Forces Command, the U.S. Pacific Command, and the U.S. Transportation Command,
USFK is conducting a series of war games to determine the most effective method
for the USFK commander to exercise command and control over operational-level
Although all of these methods, except the one in which services provide their
own support exclusively, may achieve some joint effects, the efficiency and
effectiveness of each varies. The problems EUCOM has encountered while supporting
Iraqi Freedom overwhelmingly support a single entity responsible for theater
logistics. Furthermore, the Defense Science Board’s conclusion that “to
be effective, logistics must be a function of command rather than staff” and
the legal discussion that COCOM authority (and thus DAFL) can be exercised only
through commanders eliminate using an expanded J–4 staff to coordinate
joint logistics effects as an effective solution. Thus, a command and control
arrangement such as a JTLC is the only option that fully addresses the observations
and shortcomings experienced during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Perhaps it is time for EUCOM to try this novel approach so that it will not
have to scramble to establish an ad hoc joint logistics structure after joining
the battle. COCOMs must train as they fight and posture themselves for success
before the next battle begins.
A follow-on article on emerging Joint Theater Logistics Command/Joint Force Support
Component Command concepts, their relationships to other theater commands, and
their role in a contingency will be published in the next issue of Army Logistician.
Randy S. Kendrick is a joint logistics planner with the U.S. Army Europe
Logistics Transformation Planning Task Force. He has a bachelor’s degree
in business management from Grove City College in Pennsylvania and a master’s
degree in business administration from Cameron University in Oklahoma. He is
a graduate of the Army Logistics Management College’s Logistics Executive