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Thoughts for Sustainment Brigade Commanders: An Interview With the CASCOM Commanding General

Major General Mitchell H. Stevenson, the Commanding General of the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM), was recently asked about the progress of logistics transformation and, in particular, the effect of eliminating division support commands (DISCOMs) and creating sustainment brigades that are part of a single logistics command within a theater of operations. The questions we asked and his responses follow.

Major General Stevenson, what do you think is the single most important key to success for sustainment brigade commanders?

I think the most important point to remember is that, though sustainment brigades, most often, will not be assigned to divisions, there will always be a sustainment brigade in support of a division and its BCTs [brigade combat teams] and any support brigades assigned. The sustainment brigade must be the “single face to the supported unit.” Sustainment brigades will always have assigned areas of operations—specific geographic areas for which they are assigned to provide support through their CSSBs [combat sustainment support battalions] to brigade support battalions (who are supporting their BCTs/brigades) or to directly support non-brigade-aligned units. This is true both in peacetime stationing and when deployed.

Sustainment brigade commanders need to ensure their supported units know that the sustainment brigades are the one-stop shop for echelons-above-brigade support and that the brigades will then coordinate with their parent sustainment command for what they need help with. This is especially critical for supported division commanders and their ADCs [assistant division commanders], who need to feel like their supporting sustainment brigade commander is a member of their team, but it is equally true for all supported units.

But if sustainment brigades are not normally assigned to the division, how will this work at home station?

Though our doctrine says that, most likely, when deployed, sustainment brigades will be under the command and control of a sustainment command, when not deployed, most sustainment brigades in CONUS [continental United States] will be on an installation where the senior mission commander is a division commander, and so their training, readiness, and oversight [TRO] will be administered by that division commander. That is not a violation of our modular force logistics concept in any way. However, all need to understand that, through the ARFORGEN [Army Force Generation] process, sustainment brigades are not likely to deploy in support of the division commander from whom peacetime TRO comes.

Similarly, sustainment brigades are not likely to deploy with the CSSBs they command and control at home station, nor are the CSSBs likely to deploy with all of their subordinate companies. This makes it critically important to know how to quickly build relationships with a new higher headquarters and with new customers. It’s essential for the sustainment brigade commander to recognize this and then to teach and mentor CSSB and company commanders on how to build these relationships.

Speaking of mentoring, can you tell us what the relationship of the sustainment brigade commander should be to brigade support battalion (BSB) commanders? Since the BSB commander has no colonel-level logistics commander in charge of his development, isn’t that a problem?

That’s a very good point. Though there will likely never be a command and control relationship between brigade support battalion commanders and the sustainment brigade that supports them, there is much a colonel can do to help develop lieutenant colonel BSB commanders into good sustainment brigade commanders, and so we need our sustainment brigade commanders to coach, teach, and mentor the BSB commanders they support, in a collaborative way. I believe most will be very appreciative of the effort. Regular events like a quarterly review and analysis, a forum in which all logisticians on an installation or in a geographic area can meet and have professional discussions about logistics performance, are an incredibly useful tool in this regard.

What about the new Army Sustainment Command (ASC), the so-called “CONUS TSC” [theater sustainment command]? What’s their relationship to the sustainment brigades in CONUS?

For CONUS-based Active Component [AC] units, the Army Sustainment Command (headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois) is the supporting sustainment command. ASC partners with installation DOLs [directorates of logistics] to provide support locally for things such as rations, water, bulk POL [petroleum, oils, and lubricants], and even ammunition support. Automated supply support (SARSS [Standard Army Retail Supply System] 2A functions) will come from Headquarters ASC at Rock Island and may be provided through local “materiel management teams.” OCONUS [outside CONUS] units and USAR [U.S. Army Reserve] and ARNG [Army National Guard] units all have TSCs that support them, much like ASC does for CONUS-based AC units. When the sustainment brigade is deployed, ASC will step in and fill the gap left by the sustainment brigade; when the sustainment brigade is not deployed and mission capable, they must continue to be the “single face to the supported unit” I mentioned before, just as they would for those they support when deployed, and maximize the support they provide to units on the installation.

These have been helpful thoughts. Any concluding comments for current and future sustainment brigade commanders?


I try to get out and meet all our sustainment brigade commanders, and I know many of them personally. They are all, to the man or woman, absolutely outstanding logisticians who will have no trouble with these thoughts. In fact, they are the source of most of them. They understand logistics modularity and are embracing it, while at the same time ensuring first-class support to their supported units, as all good logisticians do. I could not be more proud of them.

Major Mitchell H. Stevenson is the Commanding General of the Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee, Virginia, and the Chairman of the Army Logistician Board of Directors.

LOGISTICS BRANCH IMPLEMENTATION UPDATE

The July–August 2007 issue of Army Logistician introduced the new Logistics branch and mentioned that the establishment of the branch was slated for 1 July 2007. The implementation of the Logistics branch is pending final review from the new Chief of Staff of the Army. Currently, the implementation is expected to occur early in fiscal year 2008.

The Logistics branch will comprise commissioned officers in the grades of captain through colonel who have graduated from the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course, any logistics (Quartermaster, Ordnance, Transportation) Reserve Component Captains Career Course, or from earlier versions of logistics officer advanced courses. The Logistics branch was designed to meet the Army’s need for multifunctional logistics expertise and multiskilled logistics leaders. For more information, see the July–August 2007 issue of Army Logistician.

ARMY LOGISTICIAN ON LOGNET

Army Logistician now has a topic site on LOGNet. The purpose of this site is to provide a forum for readers to share their thoughts about articles published in Army Logistician. Through this site, readers can contradict or concur with statements and ideas written in the magazine. The LOGNet topic site provides Army logisticians with the ability to share expertise and participate in discussions. This topic supports the magazine’s goal of providing a medium for disseminating and exchanging logistics information and expressing original and innovative thoughts about logistics support.

LOGNet is one of the Army’s primary tools for facilitating the exchange of knowledge between Army logisticians. To view Army Logistician’s topic site, log into LOGNet using your Army Knowledge Online (AKO) password or your common access card and personal identification number. Under “BCKS Explorer” on the left side, click on “Sustainment Center of Excellence (SCoE)” and then “Army Logistician.” To add a comment or start a discussion, go to “Participate” and click on “Contribute.”

To directly visit Army Logistician’s topic site, go to https://forums.bcks.army.mil/secure/communitybrowser.aspx?id=397443.