NAVSUP: How We Fight

BY CMDR. JAY HAMILTON, SC, USN, AND LT. CMDR. CHRIS O’CONNOR, SC, USN, NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEMS COMMAND

On the first day of the Navy Supply Corps Senior Leadership Symposium, flag officers, Senior Executive Service members, captains, and captain selects focused their attention on multiple briefs aimed at “Setting the Strategic Stage.” As a capstone to those briefs, Capt. Kevin Jones, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) N3/4, presented “NAVSUP – How We Fight,” an in-depth view of how the NAVSUP Enterprise supports Navy and joint warfighters around the globe.

The NAVSUP Enterprise plays a key role in a global logistics network comprised of multiple Department of Defense organizations, federal agencies, commercial partners, and international partners to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to Navy customers. Looking across the NAVSUP Enterprise, NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support manages the six billion dollar Navy Working Capital Fund to provide program and supply support for aviation, surface, and sub-surface weapons systems; NAVSUP Global Logistics Support (GLS) and its eight Fleet Logistics Centers (FLCs) provide integrated logistics support, contracting services, and products and services worldwide; NAVSUP Business Systems Center delivers information technology/information management solutions in support of logistics, supply chain management, transportation, finance, and accounting; and Navy Exchange Service Command provides quality goods and services, and supports quality-of-life programs for active duty military, retirees, reservists, and their families. Despite this broad range of products and services, NAVSUP does not own or control the global logistics network end to end. For those portions NAVSUP does not own or control, we advocate on behalf of our customers and act as an integrator of strategic, operational, and tactical logistics. We help to define and convey Navy and Joint support requirements to non-Navy providers, ensuring that the global logistics network, optimized to support all services, does not inadvertently sub-optimize support of NAVSUP customers.

Ultimately, the global logistics network is focused on supporting geographic combatant commanders, with NAVSUP delivering decisive maritime combat readiness to Fleet and Expeditionary Forces. NAVSUP is ever-developing the agility, flexibility, and resilience to support operation plans and concept plans across the full range of military options (ROMO) anywhere in the world. We have to be adaptable to meet requirements from independent deployers operating in remote locations, to several carrier strike groups and expeditionary strike groups bringing the fight to a near peer adversary. We must be resilient enough to do all of this in a contested environment, with limited or no communications. This is not easy; it is a challenge for any large organization to communicate clearly, even in a communications-rich environment. To bring to bear the full capability and capacity of the entire NAVSUP Enterprise, we must be able to share information.

As NAVSUP becomes more closely aligned with the naval component commanders who support the geographic combatant commanders, NAVSUP GLS plays a critical role as the enterprise’s operational arm. NAVSUP FLC commanding officers support both regional and Fleet commanders, and NAVSUP planners and planner interns are embedded and integrated at each Fleet to respond to fleet signals for current and future operations. These planners are part of a larger community of thirty-seven Supply Corps officers assigned around the world as operational planners in both Navy and Joint billets to support the warfighter.

An integral part of how NAVSUP fights is carried out by the NAVSUP FLC logistics response teams (LRT). LRTs conduct in-theater support operations tailored to the mission. LRTs are task-organized to provide rapid, consistent, and scalable logistics from NAVSUP FLC core capabilities. In order to provide this capability, the NAVSUP FLCs develop and maintain trained personnel on staff who are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. When these personnel arrive at a location, they either expand an existing logistics node or establish new logistics capabilities. This ability to augment local forces makes LRTs a valued force multiplier, and can have a significant impact across the ROMO.

NAVSUP has a role in all six phases of joint operations. In Phase 0 – Shape, NAVSUP is geographically aligned with steady-state forces, supporting deployed assets and Navy regions around the globe. NAVSUP aids in force preparedness and readiness, participating in operational planning, regional exercises, and training.

In Phase 1 – Deter, NAVSUP’s in-theater units, the NAVSUP FLCs, support assigned forces. As needed, LRTs are activated and deployed to help with the growing mission in theater. At the same time, requests for forces are sent to NAVSUP GLS for backfills of NAVSUP FLC personnel, as required.

During Phase 2 – Seize the Initiative, and Phase 3 – Dominate, NAVSUP GLS can reach across NAVSUP for enterprise-wide LRTs (ELRTs). These ELRTs support forward logistics sites or advanced logistics support sites, augmenting in-theater capacity and capability to better respond to force requirements. Depending on the duration of this phase, backfills and LRT relief in place/transfer of authority can include active and Reserve Component personnel from throughout the Supply Corps community.

When operations transition to Phase 4 – Stabilize, NAVSUP will continue to support the joint force in-theater, while shifting logistics focus toward the redeployment of forces and retrograde of supplies, equipment, and other materiel. This effort leads directly to Phase 5 – Enable Civil Authority, as supported forces redeploy and the mission is transitioned to assigned forces in theater, effectively resetting back to Phase 0.

NAVSUP understands the importance of logistics as a critical warfighting function. Fleet-focused with a global reach, we provide options to combatant commanders. Leveraging our relationships, capacity, and experience from across the NAVSUP Enterprise, we continually integrate and influence the global logistics network.

As the global operating environment continues to evolve, NAVSUP must continue to adapt “how we fight.” Our future must include being agile, flexible, and proactive. We must be prepared to go to remote, austere locations alongside the warfighter, and we must communicate effectively across the entire global logistics network. NAVSUP support will continue to be a vital component of the operational level of war far into the future.

Supporting the Full Range of Military Operations through All Phases

How We Fight

January/February 2017