LtCol Aaron Angell, Director of the Weapon System Management Center at Marine Corps Logistics Command, sent AMCL this call for ideas in support of the Commandant's Planning Guidance, Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.
By now you have read the 2019 Commandant’s Planning Guidance (CPG). If you have not, you really must.
The CPG provides Commandant’s Intent regarding the way forward for designing, developing, testing, and implementing two concepts: Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE) and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO). The titles say “operations”, but don't be fooled, these concepts are fundamentally based in logistics. Both are founded on the realization that forces need to get to the fight and be sustained in the fight. These concepts do not change the types of offensive operations (i.e., movement to contact, attack, exploitation, or pursuit) or forms of maneuver (e.g., envelopment, turning movement, frontal attack, penetration, infiltration). The introduction of these concepts acknowledges realistic enemy threats and challenges us to break the mold for conducting Marine Corps amphibious operations, while providing several “ways” to reach out with our force and keep it sustained, whether they are in the contact, blunt, or surge layers.
Calling ALL logisticians!
Despite knowing that there are teams of Marines and other big thinkers who are, right now, specifically tasked to frame LOCE and EABO and develop it from modernization efforts to execution, every one of us also needs to be thinking about this. There is utility in having everyone thinking in their own arenas, but developing ideas that are divergent from others may create some animosity between organizations. So we need to share what we are thinking and learning.
Our way ahead:
1. Organize: How do we task organize our organizational structures today to meet the specialized operations to support EABO? Should we develop task-organized companies, or task organize for the mission as it arises? Another way to think about this – do we have set direct support units or draw from multiple units on-call? (This is not a new question.)
2. Equip: What equipment changes should we make? Do we modularize the equipment we have or design and procure new equipment? What capabilities do we need? How do we prioritize trade-offs between speed, size, capacity, force protection, and network access?
3. Information: What information do we need to have to be more effective and efficient? Ask, “If I knew X, then I how could keep the footprint small and push X at the right time?” What is the X you need to know? How do we capture that information today? Who needs to see it? How far back in the supply chain? Does whoever that is sitting in that node have global visibility of every option to provide the support, to include inventory accountability, warehouse positioning, transportation options, and financial transactions required?
4. Command and Control: When it comes to providing logistics from multiple supply nodes (i.e., expeditionary advanced bases, forward supply activities, Defense Logistics Agency stores, commercial options), who receives the initial request from the front lines, who has visibility of potential needs before those on front lines even initiate a request, and who decides the source of supply based on certain factors – speed, transportation feasibility (e.g., airfields, seaports, aerial delivery), cost, force protection (e.g., day, night, signature), etc.
These are not the only questions by far. I also reiterate that there are teams looking into this. However, you personally, and your team, are part of the solution. There should not be a single process map or a single chapter on how logistics supports LOCE and EABO. These are concepts that are all about logistics. These are also concepts that we do not want to limit with just one play in the playbook. Our strength is adaptability. Because we are a force with more than one play in our playbook, we cannot be defeated.
So, I ask that we all dig deep in figuring out EABO and LOCE. Share what you are thinking and learning.
In addition to LtCol Angell's excellent points, the May 2019 document, "Sustaining the Force", discusses four lines of effort regarding logistics. These lines of effort include: 1) Enable Global Logistics Awareness, 2) Diversify Distribution, 3) Improve Sustainment, and 4) Optimize Installations to Support Sustained Operations. Any ideas or submissions regarding these issues will be welcomed by the AMCL community.