Maritime Logistics in a Changing Strategic Environment – Part 4

This issue includes the fourth excerpt from Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos’ publication “Maritime Logistics in a Changing Strategic Environment: A Supply Officer’s Perspective.” Each excerpt offers valuable insight detailing how the Supply Corps plays a critical role in supporting the Navy. Part four takes a close look at Force Generation. You may read the document in its entirety on the eSUPPO app.

Force Generation

This issue includes the fourth excerpt from Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos’ publication “Maritime Logistics in a Changing Strategic Environment: A Supply Officer’s Perspective.” Each excerpt offers valuable insight detailing how the Supply Corps plays a critical role in supporting the Navy. Part four takes a close look at Force Generation. You may read the document in its entirety on the eSUPPO app.

Background and Context

The previous section discussed the processes and means by which new or modernized capabilities are realized and integrated into the Fleet. All the efforts discussed in that segment are geared toward the enablement of the optimized fleet response plan (OFRP ) process, but most of them occur well outside the field of view of the operational unit. Such is not the case with the next overarching concept, which correlates directly with those OFRP phases allocated to the preparation of existing systems, units and personnel for deployment operations. Those specific phases are encompassed by what Fleet guidance refers to as Force Generation (FORGEN).

Force Generation for rotational forces begins with the Maintenance Phase of a given unit, and continues through its Basic, Advanced, Integrated Phases, and ultimately to its deployment certification. It is a labor intensive process, requiring the collaborative efforts of a number of supporting organizations. The commands and infrastructure charged with deployment readiness duties bear an almost overwhelming responsibility. To a large degree, the ability of a combatant unit to succeed when placed in harm’s way depends on the quality of their combined efforts throughout the Force Generation period.

Force Generation Role Within the OFRP Framework

The Navy’s deployable units experience extreme physical demands over the course of their operational life spans. This truth is virtually all-encompassing. It applies to afloat combatants, to airframes, to civil engineering support equipment and to all the electronics, weapons systems and moving parts that make them functional platforms. Without dedicated maintenance and modernization periods, their warfighting utility and longevity would be notably diminished and our Navy would be less ready to meet its obligations. The purpose of the OFRP Maintenance Phase is to overhaul, upgrade and groom platforms and systems so they are materially ready to begin deployment preparations. A successful Maintenance Phase requires the active engagement and coordination of the Fleet, Type Commander and applicable Systems Command.

Training and assessment are also critical elements in the readiness equation. These occur in the subsequent OFRP phases, followed immediately by a period in which deploying units integrate and coalesce into effective strike groups. The specific actions that transpire within each of the OFRP phases are well documented in COMUSFLTFORCOM/COMPACFLTINST 3000.15A, Annex B and in the Force Development segment of this publication. The theme here is that a materially ready, fully manned and trained CSG or ARG requires a concentrated effort on the part of a number of organizations. Some of the most essential of them are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Critical Roles

The Fleets

U. S. Fleet Forces Command and U. S. Pacific Fleet bear the most sweeping and comprehensive responsibilities in the Force Generation process. They are charged with ensuring that upkeep and modernization are planned and executed within the timelines that optimally support the Maintenance, Basic, Advanced and Integrated OFRP phases. They develop performance measures for evaluating progress throughout the Master OFRP Production Plan (MOPP), and serve as Executive Agent for inspections, certifications and assessments. It is incumbent on both Fleets to engage with the OPNAV Staff and Systems Commands to employ FORDEV products effectively and to aggressively oversee the Type Commander activities that result in a constructive Force Generation phase. The Fleets must also maintain connectivity with the Systems Commands to ensure optimum levels of parts and technical support.

Type Commanders

The primary mission of the Type Commanders (TYCOMs) is to provide combat-ready Navy forces capable of conducting prompt, sustained naval, joint, and combined operations in support of U.S. national interests. TYCOMs retain administrative control (ADCON) authority, responsibility, and accountability of assigned forces throughout the OFRP timeline, including Integrated and Sustainment phases. It is their role in support of Strike Group Commanders throughout the Force Generation process, however, that is most important.

Among the most critical functions are:

  1. Develop platform specific resource requirements needed to execute the OFRP.
  2. Generate configuration change plans, conduct assessments to ensure new capabilities are delivered holistically to assigned units.
  3. Ensure forces successfully complete inspections, certifications and assessments, and meet the commitments of the basic and advanced phases in conformance with the ORFP timeline.
  4. Ensure forces have the requisite logistics to support OFRP and warfighting needs.
  5. Manage emergent and scheduled maintenance and modernization, including the identification and prioritization of corrective actions and alterations.

 

It’s no coincidence that the Force Generation phases of the OFRP so closely parallel TYCOM Missions, Functions and Tasks guidance. The key elements within Force Generation reflect their core responsibilities in many ways.

Carrier Strike Group (CSG)/Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)/Surface Action Group (SAG)

Strike and Ready Group Commanders, with TYCOM support, are responsible for the readiness management of their units. They must recognize and proactively facilitate resolution of issues that impact the ability of their forces to execute the OFRP. Their interaction with the TYCOM in this capacity is pivotal. Strike Group Commanders are also chartered to ensure accurate unit input into the Navy’s primary readiness reporting tool, the Defense Readiness Reporting System – Navy (DRRS-N).

Most critically, the CSG and ARG Commanders and their staffs must exert the requisite leadership and management to fuse discrete combatant units into an integra ted, efficient and well trained team … ready to go forward and meet all contingencies in a deployed environment.

The Individual Deployable Unit

The ultimate test of a deploying Navy combat unit is its ability to engage and defeat enemy forces. All the processes, initiatives and efforts described in this paper are geared toward achieving that capability and result. Most of the published OFRP guidance is tailored toward the higher and intermediate level commands and staffs, but it is at the unit level that success or failure is definitively realized. From the Commanding Officer to the most junior deckplate Sailor, an understanding of Force Generation and the OFRP process provides the context for achievement and excellence. It offers the framework that explains why we train and operate as we do, enabling comprehension of readiness goals and milestones at all levels of the chain of command. It also expresses the importance of our roles at the individual, organizational and Fleet levels. Simply put … the goal is warfighting success, the critical element is readiness and the Force Generation phases of the OFRP make the goal attainable. As previously established, care and judicious management at the Fleet, TYCOM and Strike Group levels are important, but knowledge, energy and dedication on the part of ship’s force will be the final determinants in a unit’s ability to fight and win.

Hardware Systems Commands and Program Executive Offices

The Hardware Systems Commands and Program Executive Offices provide broad technical and material support of Force Generation efforts. A few of the most noteworthy are:

  1. Ensure maintenance and modernization are efficiently planned and executed.
  2. Provide support, as needed, to maintain the material condition of Naval Forces.
  3. Establish policy and procedures for configuration management of forces. Maintain baseline configuration change plans for all units and conduct wholeness a ssessments as required.

Maintenance and upkeep periods are scheduled by a unit’s administrative chain of command, but the activities that perform the intermediate and depot level work operate under the auspices of the applicable Systems Command.

The Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) mission is:

“to design, build, deliver and maintain ships and systems on time and on cost for the United States Navy.”

The Naval Shipyards and Regional Maintenance Centers that perform the repair work, maintenance and modernizations throughout the FORGEN period all fall within the NAVSEA chain of command. The ability of surface units to progress through the Basic, Advanced and Integrated phases of the OFRP is heavily contingent on the upkeep performed by these organizations during the Maintenance and Modernization Phase.

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has parallel responsibilities for Naval aviation. The organization’s stated mission is:

“to provide full life-cycle support of naval aviation aircraft, weapons and systems operated by Sailors and Marines. This support includes research, design, development and systems engineering; acquisition; test and evaluation; training facilities and equipment; repair and modification; and in-service engineering and logistics support.”

The eight Fleet Readiness Centers, working directly for NAVAIR, offer shore-based services consistent with the provisions of the NAVAIR mission statement. They perform intermediate and depot level maintenance, repair and overhaul of aviation assets “as close to the flight line as possible.”

Ship’s force and aviation squadron maintenance personnel are well trained and capable, but not all repair work lies within the scope of their expertise. As systems and platforms become progressively more sophisticated and complex, there is increased need for the proficiency and specialized skills delivered by both the Fleet and Regional Maintenance Centers. These organizations and their skilled technicians are critical to the success of the OFRP and the FORGEN processes.

Naval Supply Systems Command

A generic, stream-lined description of NAVSUP responsibilities might mention the provision of logistics support services, contracting for supplies, material management and warehousing. In fact, the NAVSUP 2017-2021 Strategic Plan defines the organization’s mission succinctly and in the most straightforward terms:

“To provide supplies, services, and quality of life support to the Navy and Joint Warfighter.”

The reality and the execution, however, are very complex. NAVSUP efficiently meets the precepts of its mission statement. But developing effective spares models, building solid relationships with industry and judiciously managing government funds all represent large scale challenges. NAVSUP must get it right, or the consequences to Fleet readiness can be dire.

NAVSUP is our service’s supply chain integrator, but they do not own the network end to end.

The organization works closely with partners inside and outside of DoD to meet Navy’s logistics requirements. For those portions of the network which are outside the scope of Navy control, NAVSUP ensures that our interests are represented by embedding Supply Corps Officers as depicted in figure K.

NAVSUP integrates with the supply chain through four primary lines of business: WSS (inventory management), FLCs (Fleet support), BSC (information systems), and NEXCOM (quality of life). A brief discussion of these efforts and their contributions to readiness follows.

NAVSUP Weapons System Support (WSS) – This organization, which reports directly to NAVSUP Headquarters, is the single inventory control point for aviation units, surface vessels, submarines and nuclear plants. Simply stated, when a part fails on a ship or aircraft, NAVSUP WSS is responsible to ensure that a replacement is expeditiously provided. It’s important at this point to draw the distinction between consumables, which are discarded upon failure, and repairable items. Consumables are managed by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which provides support to all branches of the military. The WSS-managed repairables are Navy unique. When one fails, the broken unit must be returned, fixed and rein troduced into inventory. This makes WSS supply chain management a much more complicated and challenging process.

NAVSUP WSS’ material support responsibilities are broad and highly technical. The organization is charged with developing repair part allowances for both aviation and surface systems. The calculation models employed are of integral importance … they m ust be configured to deliver the best possible readiness within the constraints of a finite budge t. NAVSUP WSS, in conjunction with the Hardware Systems Commands, also plays a critical role in the life cycle management of systems, providing “cradle to grave” supply and parts support … from initial production to phase out to decommissioning and disposal. The connection with NAVAIR and NAVSEA is both close and continuous.

NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Centers (FLCs) – NAVSUP provides Naval, joint and allied forces with operational logistics capabilities via a network of eight subordinate Fleet Logistics Centers (FLCs). The FLCs, operating under a historic variety of names, have served as NAVSUP’s waterfront presence over the decades, enabling fleet operations in a variety of essential ways. As NAVSUP’s “face to the fleet,” the FLCs are well positioned to offer optimum support … they are in San Diego, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Yokosuka, Pearl Harbor, Bremerton, Sigonella and Bahrain. Their operations are diverse; they include contracting, fuels, hazardous materials management, integrated logistics support, material management, regional transportation, postal operations, warehousing and ammunition support. The FLCs also provide supply support for Fleet operating units, Navy installations and tenant commands worldwide.

NAVSUP Business Systems Center (BSC) – An Echelon III command reporting to NAVSUP, BSC provides a wide range of information systems (IS) support. The organization is charged with responsibility to design, develop, and maintain information systems for the functional areas of logistics, supply chain management, transportation, finance and accounting. BSC provides enterprise level IS consulting, application development (e.g. Onetouch, eSuppo, etc.), data warehousing and analytics (Inform-21, Navy Business Intelligence Services (NBIS), Logcell, etc.), and afloat automation (FSM, ROM3, etc.). It also manages the Navy’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system through its Enterprise Business Office.

Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) – The NEXCOM Enterprise supports quality of life programs for active duty military, retirees, reservists and their families. NEXCOM oversees multiple lines of business: Navy Exchange (NEX) retail stores and services, afloat ships’ stores, Uniform Program Management Office (UPMO), Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility (NCTRF), Navy Lodge program, and telecommunications program.

With the exception of the Ship’s Stores Program, the NEXCOM Enterprise conducts its operations as a federal non-appropriated funded entity. As such, the comm and is self-supporting with 70% of its profits being given to Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs and the remaining 30% being reinvested in NEX buildings and equipment.

Logistics Intensive Force Generation Actions

As illustrated in the preceding paragraphs, the FORGEN phase encompasses a wide range of activities across a number of commands. Those combined efforts – the maintenance, training, assessments – are designed to result in a readiness convergence prior to unit deployment. Every action associated with FORGEN involves or requires logistics support, but some are particularly supply and logistics intensive. Some of the most important are discussed in the sub-paragraphs immediately following.

Targeted Allowancing Reconciliation Tool (T-ART). As part of their allowancing responsibilities, NAVSUP WSS releases Ashore Interface (ASI) updates to fleet units on a monthly basis. Routine ASIs, produced every other month, are designed to bring Consolidated Shipboard Allowance Lists (COSALs) into conformity with current models. Newly identified shortfalls generate NAVSEA funded requisitions to address deficiencies. The T-ART (which is not run in the sam e month as an ASI) goes a step further. Selected units – approximately ten per mo nth as identified across the six Surface, Submarine and Aviation TYCOMs – undergo a “targeted” review and analysis. In the T-ART process, a “side by side” reconciliation of the unit’s allowance list is performed against the WSS data base. Shortages and anomalies are addressed with NAVSEA funds. Deploying units are not scheduled for T-ART on a set schedule. Their timing depends heavily on operational demands, changes in configuration and funding. However, a lapse of too m any years between T-ARTs could result in a severely misaligned COSAL.

The readiness impact of accurate allowancing and parts support to Fleet operations is very nearly incalculable. Our weapons systems are sophisticated and sensitive, and many moving parts are needed to keep our ships and aircraft in motion and ready to fight. As we expand into a digital era of increasingly distributed operations, parts availability and positioning assume a burgeoning level of importance. These combined factors make the concept of current, valid allowance lists a legitimate cornerstone of both the Force Generation and Force Employment phases.

Grooms. Hardware Systems Command routinely “groom” critical systems in advance of deployment. They perform an intensive series of tests, analysis, training and maintenance actions to ensure system readiness for deployment and potential combat operations. The comprehensive nature of these grooms invariably results in material requirements, often for sophisticated, high-dollar repair parts. The success of the groom is usually contingent on parts availability. The requisitions generated also have impact beyond the immediate need for the part … they drive demand, which may ultimately impact allowancing models and COSALs. Examples of grooms include the Total Ship’s Readiness Assessment (TSRA) and the Gas Turbine Material Assist Team (GTMAT) visit, but there many others and they very nearly cover the gamut of shipboard systems. Navy units must deploy with well-tuned electronics systems and engineering plants to ensure combat success. Grooms are scheduled to achieve that end, and effective parts support is the foundation for realizing it.

Re-AVCAL. This process, which is designed to produce the aviation consolidated allowance list (AVCAL) for carriers and large deck amphibious ships, begins six to nine months prior to deployment. The mix of deploying aircraft and their capabilities is contingent on mission, theater of operations and other considerations. The Type/Model/Series of aircraft, and the electronics and weapons systems they carry, also varies from one deployment to the next. The variation in aircraft assigned means the supporting material allowances must be tailored to each deployment. The TYCOM convenes a conference to configure parts support based on these factors. Participants include the Air Wing, NAVSUP WSS, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), NAVAIR, TYCOM and the deploying platform. Their representatives perform a comprehensive review down to the Bureau Number (BUNO) of the aircraft in order to develop the most effective AVCAL possible. Shortages
of critical repairables are filled via the wholesale supply system or cross decking from other platforms.

Allowancing accuracy is the common theme throughout this sub-section. It is the logistician’s responsibility to make sure it happens. Without it, combat readiness can be placed at risk.

Summary

The early sections of this paper reviewed the national guidance and planning processes that, to a large degree, explain our military’s force structure at any given time. The intent was to emphasize that the mix of ships, aircraft and expeditionary units we see and interact with on a daily basis did not emerge in an ad hoc way. There is rigor in the process … units and systems have come into existence because the warfighter has expressed a need, and that need has been validated and re-validated.

In amplification, a lengthy description of capabilities development and refinement was presented in the FORDEV chapter, with an overview of the budgeting mechanisms that convert concepts to reality. These sections were designed to illuminate the sometimes complicated processes that are foundational to deployment and warfighting success. Force Generation is the phase in which the products of those preliminary efforts are prepared for use, through maintenance, training and technical support. It is best described as the efforts of multiple organizations working collaboratively and, at times, independently, toward the common goal of optimum pre-deployment readiness. It is an expensive and unwieldy endeavor, but it is indispensable and incomparably effective. No nation in the world exerts the effort to prepare its forces for contingencies with more meticulous care and planning than the United States.

We have a sacred duty to our Sailors to deploy them fully equipped and trained to succeed. We also have an obligation to the supported Combatant Commander to provide units and personnel who are prepared to wield combat power with positive effect. The FORDEV and FORGEN processes provide them with the requisite tools. Their operational performance and their ability to meet all mission requirements is the ultimate validation of the success of those phases.

…more to follow in the next issue.

Summer 2019