The Modern Supply Officer of the Pacific

     Supply Corps Officers in the Pacific Theater face challenges unlike any others in today’s Navy.  The vastness of the Pacific Ocean, nearly 64

Rear Adm. Lee Singleton

Rear Adm. Lee Singleton

million square miles, results in unique demands and unequaled learning opportunities for our Supply Corps Officers.  Whether stationed on a ship, an operational staff, or part of the vital supply support effort in the Pacific, today’s Supply Corps Officers quickly understand the importance of integrated efforts within the complex supply chain system.

     While much of our Navy in recent years has focused efforts in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Sailors and officers in the Pacific theater haven been asked to perform a different role.  Nowhere in the Navy do phrases like ‘tyranny of distance’ and ‘logistics tail’ have greater meaning than they do in the Pacific, where sustaining a true blue water force in the largest ocean in the world is unparalleled in its complexity.

Supply and operational activities — at all levels — must work closely together and communicate continuously to ensure that support to the warfighter never waivers.  If coordinated correctly, the result is a synchronized endeavor that seems simple from the view of an outsider.  The many complexities of the supply chain are magnified when dealing with an area so large and unconventional.

     When a new Supply Corps Officer arrives in the Pacific Area of Responsibility (AOR) that is exactly what he or she is … a Supply Corps Officer.  However, the Supply Officer afloat in the Pacific will pull into multiple ports in a number of foreign countries.  They will encounter a wide variety of port visit and customs requirements which require a great deal of focus and energy to ensure proper support to the warfighter.

     These logistical strains are seen daily at commands such as Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (CTF-73), where a Supply Corps Officer must be able to logistically support the constant transit of ships within the 7th Fleet AOR.  Repair parts, ordnance, food, and fuel requirements are routinely delivered flawless by our Combat Logistics Force (CLF) in the Pacific.  While CTF-73 makes it seem easy, those requirements could not be satisfied without the support of the regional Fleet Logistics Centers (FLCs).  FLC Yokosuka and the numerous detachments, sites, and fuel terminals utilize proven and standardized processes to ensure a consistent and efficient response to Navy, Marine Corps, and Department of Defense entities throughout the AOR.  Meanwhile, to be an effective member of a staff like CPF, C7F or C3F, it is absolutely critical that a Supply Corps Officer understands the command and control structure and how all subordinate activities in the AOR are related.  That thorough understanding is essential to support the warfighter at the fleet level.

     The accompanying articles in this issue of the Supply Corps Newsletter will cover in greater detail the requirements and efforts various activities have in supporting our blue water capabilities.  But blue water ops are not where the role of a Supply Corps Officer ends.  You will also read about Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Expeditionary Support Unit (ESU) One, whose role is critical to providing logistical support to EOD units worldwide.  You will also be made aware of how logisticians in the AOR are continuously thinking outside the box while attempting to utilize alternative capabilities, such as MV-22 Osprey, to provide enhanced logistics support to amphibious ships at sea.

     In summary, it is an exciting time to be part of the Pacific AOR.  The ‘Rebalance to the Pacific’ has put a great deal of focus on the region, and has provided challenges and opportunities for our Supply Corps Officers on all levels.  It has also led to one undeniable truth … While one may arrive in the Pacific AOR as a Supply Corps Officer, he or she leaves it as a supremely qualified and valuable operational, warfighting logistician.

By Rear Adm. Lee Singleton, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Fleet Supply and Ordnance, U.S. Pacific Fleet