The U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest U.S. numbered fleet, with 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft and about 40,000 Sailors and Marines operating in the region on a typical day.
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CTF-660 C4 staff aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) in the Coral Sea. (Photo by MC1 Joshua Karsten)
In addition to U.S.-based carrier and expeditionary strike groups that conduct rotational deployments in the region, there are 23 ships forward deployed to U.S. facilities in Japan and Guam. They form the heart of 7th Fleet and provide a permanent, ready and highly capable presence, while reducing transit times and support costs by operating from overseas bases.
As the only permanently embarked Fleet staff in the United States Navy aboard USS Blue Ridge
(LCC-19), the N4 Logistics Directorate has a unique challenge in delivering critical oversight and advocacy of vital classes of supply and services to our Combined Task Forces (CTFs).
Per Navy Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Manual NTTP 3-32.1 (Maritime Operations Center (MOC)), the N4 “Logistics Readiness Center” (LRC) organization within the MOC Construct, supports the commander’s logistic requirements and provides visibility of capabilities, requirements, and assigned priorities. In Phase 0 (Shape) of the Theater Campaign Plan, the N4 organization provides logistics support similar to other numbered Fleets throughout the world. However, in Phase I (Deter), Phase II (Seize Initiative) through Phase V (Enable Civil Authority), the N4 organization evolves into the LRC organization outlined in Figure 2. This broader LRC mission is very similar in alignment and focus with a Joint/Combined Task Force (JTF/CTF) such as what occurred during Talisman Saber
2013, when 7th Fleet N4 assumed the duties as CTF-660 C4; increasing in scope and size from a staff of 36 to nearly 70 augmented personnel from Australia, the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. This Combined Logistics organization encompassed civil engineering, mortuary affairs, aviation maintenance, contracting and distribution.
The primary focus of the Logistics Directorate is unity of effort. This requires collaboration not only on the Staff among directorates, but higher headquarters, component commanders, type commanders (TYCOMs), and throughout the CTFs and units.
Assistant Chief of Staff (ACOS), Logistics (N4)-LRC Director ...
The role of the N4 ACOS has evolved during the past few years from solely a supporting relationship with fellow directorates, principally the N3 (MOC Director), to a supported relationship to ensure Sustainment is achieved for long term health and stability of the Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF).
With current and future financial challenges in fuel allocation, port visit costs, sustainment, and general Operations and Maintenance, Navy (O&M, N) accounts, it is more critical than ever that the N4 ACOS and their staff leverage a unity of effort among the logistics and operational chains of command to ensure the right priorities at the right time occur to achieve the mission. In order to recognize the challenges of sustaining the health of the FDNF, consider some units, such as USS John S. McCain
(DDG- 56) have made Yokosuka her homeport since 1997 (16 years in a 24/7/365 forward deployed operational tempo).
Integrating logistics planning and execution with operational requirements deliver success to the Fleet Commander, and demonstrate the United States’ strategic plan of maintaining security presence and engagement in “Pivot to the Asia-Pacific” region. The more enduring our presence by positively executing our mission with our partners, allies, and friends, the stronger the alliance and commitment to peace and prosperity in Phase 0 operations. By conducting weekly video-teleconference (VTC) meetings with U.S. Forces Korea J4 during the Joint Sustainment Synchronization Board (JSSB), monthly U.S. Pacific Fleet N4 Logistics Coordination Board (LCB) VTCs, Bi-Weekly Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Operational Logistics (OPLOG) Defense Connect Online (DCO) meetings, the U.S. 7th Fleet Logistics Directorate, in concert with our CTFs and afloat units, will continue to maintain peak readiness in a fiscally constrained environment by developing integrated logistics solutions and enhancing operational readiness with sustainment policies that deliver efficiency and effectiveness to our war fighters. Therefore, advocating Naval Logistics Integration (NLI) and the Joint Logistics Enterprise (JLEnt) provides focus on conducting sustained operations in an expeditionary environment.
Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff (DACOS), Logistics (N4A)-Deputy LRC Director ...
The Deputy N4 serves as the Acting N4 in his absence, and is mainly responsible for the administration, financial and personnel management of the directorate, to include the effective integration of the 7th Fleet LRC Reserve Component (RC) Detachment personnel during exercises and potential contingencies. By “keeping the lights on,” the RC achieve “norming” in N4 LRC team development with the Active Component (AC) at an increased rate of speed due to the commitment, constant communication and coordination that provides situational awareness and a common operational picture on a routine and consistent basis.
The N4 Logistics Directorate consists of the N40 Staff Supply Operations division led by a Supply Corps 3100 Lieutenant on his second operational tour, a Master Chief Logistics Specialist, and a Senior Chief Culinary Specialist. The other N4 divisions and their incumbent officers include N41 Current Operations (COPS) (LCDR/3100); N42 Future Operations (FOPS) (7th Fleet Staff LT/3100 and FLC Yokosuka ADDU LCDR/3100); N43 Fleet Maintenance (LCDR/1110 and LT/1110, Chief Engineman and First Class Boatswain Mate) and N44 Ordnance (LCDR/6360 LDO).
The N4 DACOS provides oversight and management of Port Visit Costs and serves as the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) for Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT). The 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR) is subdivided into four distinct port visit contract regions. Allies, partners and friends located in the Western Pacific are visited more than 300 times a year by 7th Fleet afloat units. In Fiscal Year 2013, the COMPACFLT TYCOMs’ port visit budget was nearly $40 million. In an era dominated by decreasing resources and constraints imposed by sequestration, the close management of port visit costs is receiving flag-level attention across the force. 7th Fleet N4 participates in a weekly meeting chaired by COMPACFLT N40 to discuss current port visits, review costs estimated and actually incurred during previous port visits and exchange information about other relevant items of interest. The forum includes representatives from the TYCOMs, Military Sealift Command, Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka and their Singapore Detachment.
7th Fleet N4 and N34 (Force Protection) are actively engaged in monitoring Logistics Requirements (LOGREQ) messages and challenging requests for port services above and beyond the strict requirements established by the TYCOM-approved Standardized LOGREQ. Exorbitant Husbanding Service Provider fees for the mobilization and demobilization of fuel, CHT, trash and water barges, fender systems and high power tugs are all scrutinized and the options available to meet requirements for less cost are considered. Similarly, force protection measures that are dictated by policy but may be out of proportion to the commander’s risk assessment of the actual threat are reviewed as potential candidates for a waiver at the appropriate level.
LRC Chief ...
In the context of the MOC construct, the 7th Fleet LRC Chief focuses on the daily efforts managing the time horizons of COPS; and, as directed by the LRC Director, works with the Operational Logistics (OPLOG) Planner to maintain alignment between future operations (FOPS-96 hours and beyond) in transition to COPS (96 hours to present). The LRC Chief is also the N4 Logistics Directorate representative to any Crisis Action Team (CAT) requirement.
Staff Supply Operations (N40) ...
The 21st century has been accentuated by the contemporary rise of China and the reemergence of Asia as a globally important center of trade and development. Home to roughly 61 percent of the world's population, the economic importance of the Asia-Pacific region cannot be understated. Therefore, the U.S. strategic realignment and focus on the region is of paramount importance. In order for us to secure and maintain U.S. national interests, partnership with regional States remains a vital part of our mission at 7th Fleet.
Arguably, the most visible, and certainly the most entertaining aspect of 7th Fleet's partnership mission is spearheaded by the N4 Logistics Directorate’s Supply Operations Division (N40). The N40 team leads the charge in executing Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) diplomatic receptions. These TSC engagements are held in Sovereign States throughout the AOR. In calendar year 2013, the N40 Team executed 12 receptions which were attended by more than 3,600 U.S., foreign military and government officials. These receptions offer the Flag Mess Culinary Specialists an opportunity to demonstrate their culinary skills and hospitality expertise.
Beyond the very large and visible TSC receptions, the Flag Mess Culinary Specialists execute official and formal luncheons and dinners, hosted by the Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. These smaller receptions in the Flag Cabin are much more personal and formal in nature. In 2013, the Flag Mess Culinary team executed official dining receptions for such distinguished guests as the Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, COMPACFLT, CNO’s Political Advisor, Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer, Commander, United States Forces Korea (USFK), and the 7th Fleet Task Force Commanders.
Beyond culinary expertise, N40 has a broader TSC mission in the administration and accounting of Official Representation Funds (ORF). Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 127 authorizes the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide for any Emergency or Extraordinary Expense (EEE) that cannot be anticipated or classified. These funds may be spent for purposes determined to be proper by the Secretary concerned, including official courtesies provided for community and public relations, international relations, DoD protocol, and other expenses not specifically provided for by other appropriations. In the Department of the Navy, ORF, which is a subset of EEE, is used to maintain the standing and prestige of the United States. The N40 Logistics Specialists maintain an annual ORF budget of $350,000, administering more than 300 ORF eligible engagements annually throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The final function, and arguably most vital, for daily Staff operations, is Staff Support. N40 balances and administers a $4.5 Million OPTAR budget. On an annual basis, the talented Logistics Specialists handle an average of 250 Government Commercial Purchase Card transactions and nearly 600 transportation requests. In addition, N40 coordinates 20 port visit requirements for the Staff nearly 300 open purchases or contract requisitions. Due to the tyranny of distance, the Division allocates nearly $2 Million to N1 Administrative Directorate for the travel requirements of the Admiral and a Staff of 350.
Current Operations/Supply Support (N41) ...
The Current Operations/Supply Support Officer monitors the overall logistical status of the maritime assets in the 7th Fleet AOR. This is accomplished through the use of a variety of tools such as the Logistics Common
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USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) at anchor in Sihounakville, Cambodia in May 2012. (Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Stancati)
Operational Picture (LOGCOP), operational reports from CTF 70, 73, 74, and 76, monitoring fleet message traffic, and maintaining an active dialogue with commands on supply support, port visit and refueling requirements. Significant readiness and cost indicators are briefed monthly at one of the 7th Fleet Commander’s weekly Update Briefs (CUBs); topics include port visit costs, Coordinated Shipboard Allowance List (COSAL) effectiveness, and C-3/4 Casualty Report (CASREP) effects on fleet readiness.
Sustainment not only includes maintenance, but supply support, as well. The “bull’s-eye” on afloat readiness is reflected in COSAL effectiveness. Evaluating the Gross/Net Effectiveness, Not-In Stock (NIS)/Not Carried (NC) percentages against Type Commander Goals and the Navy, in general, will provide readiness indicator trends.
As funding becomes more constrictive, it is important to take a pulse on the limits and capabilities of the Fleet’s COSAL to determine immediate afloat readiness and the second and third order effects of NIS/NC impacts on C-2/3/4 Casualty Reports with an increased Logistics Response Time (LRT) to deliver vital materiel over the course of the last tactical thousand miles in the Navy’s largest AOR. Moreover, 7th Fleet’s supporting responsibility to the TYCOMs to reduce and avoid port costs provides broader opportunity to utilize O&M,N in more vital funding priorities, such as steaming days, flight hour program, replenish COSAL stock deficiencies, CASREP material requirements, and/or Temporary Duty funding for training and readiness.
Future Operations/Operational Logistics (OPLOG) Plans (N42) ...
The Korea OPLOG Planning Officer has the responsibility to
write and maintain the Operation Plan (OPLAN) that is in defense of Korea. The OPLAN Annex D (Logistics) covers a range of topics such as Combined/Joint Logistics Over the Shore (C/JLOTS), combatant sustainment, and mortuary affairs. As part of the OPLAN development, the OPLOG planner must work with PACOM, PACFLT, SURFPAC, and the CTFs to ensure all requirements for manning, equipment and sustainment are met on the Time Phased Force Deployment List (TPFDL). This list is prioritized to ensure that the Combined Forces Command (CFC) or the Joint Task Force (JTF) Commander is able to fill the assigned mission by scheduling delivery of required materiel to arrive on its Required Delivery Date (RDD). This is done by working with the other component commands, such as Air Component Command (ACC), to assign priorities and schedule the air and sea delivery of Classes of Supply for Sustainment (Classes V-Ordnance and X-Major End Items).
During exercises, such as Ulchi Freedom Guardian
2013, the Korea OPLOG Planner ensured strong coordination with Commander, Naval Forces Korea (CTF-78) N4, USFK and Republic of Korea (ROK) Fleet Headquarters to achieve the training objectives.
In 2010, NAVSUP instituted the Global Logistics Support (GLS) Execution Initiative which called for NAVSUP OPLOG Planners to be embedded in each of the Fleet Commander’s Staffs. In January 2012, 7th Fleet received their ADDU OPLOG Planner from NAVSUP, who has played a unique and important role across the operational planning spectrum. His skill set includes the Operational Level of War (OLW) construct; the LRC/MOC relationship; Supported/Supporting relationships and Command and Control (C2) between ashore geographical commands, including FLC and the Fleet. The NAVSUP Planner bridges a gap in communication between these supporting integral units not under the Fleet Commander’s control and is a paradigm shift in the perspective to OPLAN Annex D development. When the 7th Fleet’s OPLOG Planner billet was gapped from 2012-2013, the NAVSUP Planner became the lead Action Officer for all PACOM/PACFLT exercises including Terminal Fury, Key Resolve, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, Foal Eagle, Keen Edge, Keen Sword
and Talisman Saber
Looking forward to 2014, the NAVSUP Planner will coordinate with all PACOM AOR stakeholders in constructing a new Theatre JFMCC Operational Plan, Annex (W) (Operational Contracting Support-OCS), Naval Advanced Logistics Support Site (NALSS)/Base Operating Support-Integrated (BOS-I) initiatives, as well as, developing the PACOM AOR NAVSUP GLS Contingency Response Annex and FLC-Y Logistics Response Team instruction.
Fleet Maintenance (N43) ...
June 2013 marked the one-year anniversary when 7th Fleet began to restore balance in the triad of sustainment, operations, and exercises. From FY10 to FY12, there was an inverse proportion in the number of scheduled XAZ Continuous Maintenance Availabilities (CMAVs) versus inefficient XCM Windows of Opportunity (WOO) maintenance availabilities. The XAZ/XCM ratio was a disappointing 11 to 89 percent. But, with revision to the 7th Fleet OPORD 201 to instill rigor in the Joint Fleet Maintenance Manual (JFMM) mandated regularly scheduled XAZ CMAV execution in FY13, the ratio significantly improved to 63 to 37 percent; doubling FDNF XAZ CMAVs from 20 in 2012 to 41 in 2013.
7th Fleet also strove to inculcate a collaborative maintenance environment between the operational and administrative chains of command. 7th Fleet remains engaged with the CTFs, TYCOMs and the U.S. Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center, Yokosuka, Japan (SRF - JRMC) via monthly COMNAVSURFPAC Drumbeat teleconferences, semi-annual Sustainment Summits in Yokosuka and Singapore, INSURV preparations/inspections, and Fleet commander oversight and advocacy of high priority C-3/4 CASREP material requisition expediting and forward stock positioning.
Sustainment is a long-view initiative, with tremendous progress to conduct intrusive open-and-inspect opportunities for not only maintenance, but also material assessments. Surface Maintenance Engineering Planning Program (SURFMEPP) data reflects 7th Fleet ships are above 80 percent in material assessments, which directly lends itself to the long-term health of our ships in providing a sound foundation for future planning and budgeting of maintenance requirements to meet or exceed their planned service life.
The N43 Fleet Maintenance Division is also home to the First Division, comprised of a dozen rated Petty Officers and non-rated Seaman, many fresh out of Basic Training, who are responsible for the routine maintenance and upkeep of the Admiral’s Barge. The First Division, along with a dedicated corps of rotating volunteers, also provides the labor necessary to set up and break down temporary facilities and equipment in support of frequent TSC “Big Top” diplomatic receptions.
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7th Fleet First Division Officers and Sailors embarked on the Admiral’s Barge in Dili, Timor Leste (Photo by CAPT Ron Carr)
Ordnance (N44) ...
The Fleet Ordnance Officer position is manned by a 6360 Aviation Ordnance Limited Duty Officer (LDO). The primary functions of the Fleet Ordnance Officer are to work in conjunction with COMPACFLT and Commander, Logistics Forces, Western Pacific (COMLOGWESTPAC (CTF-73) in Singapore to establish loading priorities for deployed units in the theater and participate in the Non-Nuclear Ordnance Requirements (NNOR) for OPLAN execution. The focus is to ensure deployed 7th Fleet units maintain optimum readiness through tailored ordnance loading plans. Monitoring 7th Fleet conventional ordnance status on a daily basis is essential to allow flexibility in planning for contingencies, operations, Fleet training and exercises.
Reserve Component (RC) ...
With an emphasis on the ‘Total Force’ concept, the RC provides additional logistics manpower support to 7th Fleet N4 in the form of officers and enlisted sailors assigned to NR COMSEVENTHFLEET Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) based at Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Kitsap, Wash. These RC personnel offer a cohesive and ready force to augment and seamlessly integrate with 7th Fleet N4 AC staff during exercises Key Resolve
, Terminal Fury
, Talisman Saber
, Ulchi Freedom Guardian
, and potential contingency operations.
Critical exercise roles successfully filled by Reserve personnel have included LRC Chief, Transportation, Distribution, and Petroleum Subject Matter Experts in the Sustainment & Services Cell.
RC personnel train monthly on the full range of logistics operations such as commodities management, transportation, sustainment, and force flow. Further training is conducted on logistics doctrine including JP 4.0 Joint Logistics, NWP 3-32 Maritime Operations at the OLW, and NTTP 3-32.1 MOC. SEVENTH Fleet AOR specific OPLANs, operational orders, and real world events are reviewed and discussed on a monthly basis. The training focus is to develop and maintain logistics proficiency and ongoing situational awareness of real world events in order for Reserve personnel to perform their duties whenever and wherever needed and immediately contribute to the logistics effort upon arrival in the 7th Fleet N4 LRC.
Through a unity of effort, long term operational logistics planning, oversight and advocacy, and daily philosophy of NLI and JLEnt to conduct sustained operations in an expeditionary environment, 7th Fleet N4 continues to build trust and relationships among the Directorates, throughout the CTFs, Higher Headquarters, Type and fellow Component Commanders. By mitigating the “forming and storming” phases of organizational development within the LRC, the stage is set to achieve “norming and performing” not only in Phase 0, but more important, Phase I and beyond. The 7th Fleet N4 Logistics Directorate is forward deployed, and ready to answer all bells.
By Capt. Ron Carr, SC, USN; Assistant Chief of Staff, Logistics, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet