Tooth to Tail

By February 23, 2015September 6th, 2018Logistics
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PEO CS&CSS works to sharpen the Army’s teeth while trimming its tail

By Ms. Munira Tourner and Mr. Michael Clow

As the Army postures to succeed and win in this complex world, its Force 2025 and beyond campaign plan outlines the need to design and build a force that is more lethal, expeditionary and agile than today’s. At the same time, the new “U.S. Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World, 2020-2040,” spearheaded by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (­TRADOC), acknowledges that success in our complex world may well involve more than just firepower. Since Force 2025 emphasizes speed and lethality, significant opportunities exist to shape and influence the future force across the sustainment acquisition community.

The Army’s role as the “foundational force” often requires it to provide substantial support to its sister services, coalition partners and even nongovernmental organizations. No matter where the Army goes, today or tomorrow, whether it intends to employ combat power or render assistance, the Army must move scalable formations into and out of a wide range of operating environments. Once in place, Soldiers and those they support will need shelter, water, transportation, power, engineering equipment and a host of other capabilities.

Today’s Army faces a zero-sum proposition in many areas. So while the equipment provided by the Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS) might seem like an unlikely place to find the Army’s future combat edge, if we want to maximize resources in the Army’s “tooth” then we must look at optimizing the sustainment “tail.” In a world of fiscal constraints and uncertainty, an Army seeking to expand its combat power, lethality, flexibility and agility must unburden Soldiers by reducing convoy manning requirements, logistical footprints, fuel and water requirements, weight and other factors. It is imperative, in other words, that we change the tooth-to-tail ratio.

Watching the Tank

WATCHING THE TANK:A Soldier assigned to 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team monitors a fuel servicing truck at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Aug. 28, 2014. Meeting power and water demands drives a substantial amount of resource requirements, with the Army spending nearly twice as much buying gas for DOD in FY12 as it did on transitioning Army S&T. (U.S. Army photo by SPC Brian Chaney, Viper Combat Camera Team, U.S. Army Europe)

PEO CS&CSS is pursuing technological and analytical solutions in several critical areas to help make that change. As a part of TRADOC’s overall Army 2025 planning, we provide a critical acquisition perspective and realism, collaborating with our requirements and science and technology (S&T) partners in a series of recurring working group meetings and senior-level forums to examine and prioritize technology-specific focus areas. This process includes assessing technology readiness and affordability, and identifying program insertion opportunities.

Transferring those same messages to critical discussions such as the Army’s Long-range Investment Requirements Analysis not only synchronizes these key activities but also improves the likelihood for transition of advanced S&T projects. Finally, by employing new analytical tools, we have improved our ability to make choices about equipment’s useful life, affordability and other factors shaping investment decisions. Together, these actions will continue improving the efficiency of the Army’s tail and help shape the leaner, more capable and more expeditionary force we need. A couple of important examples follow.

In recent conflicts, improvised explosive devices killed or injured thousands of troops riding in ground vehicles. Improving Soldier safety required vital and effective—though also tremendously expensive—survivability programs such as the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle and armor kits for tens of thousands of other tactical wheeled vehicles (TWVs).

Though the Army will always need Soldiers to conduct certain missions, another way to improve survivability is to reduce the number of Soldiers exposed to future threats. Part of that equation is reducing supply demands. Additionally, emerging technologies can help make those vehicles that are needed safer, smarter and less Soldier-dependent—substantially improving the safety and efficiency of the Army’s logistics process.

Under the broad umbrella of “autonomy,” technologies are both available today and expected to emerge that will help us move toward these objectives, carefully considering cost and technological maturity. We don’t have to start with the self-driving Google car. In fact, many of us own personal vehicles with driver assistance and safety enhancement technologies that tell us if we’re getting near another vehicle or offer similar warnings. PEO CS&CSS is mapping out an incremental acquisition strategy to deliver similar levels of autonomy to today’s TWV fleet, while focusing on building autonomy-enabled capabilities into future acquisition programs.

Fuel Delivery

REDUCING DEMAND: PV2 Emily Baker, a transportation specialist with the 16th Sustainment Brigade (SB), prepares to unhook a fuel tank at a forward operating base at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, May 13, 2014. PM E2S2 is pursuing technologies that reduce the need to transport fuel and water across the battlefield, including intelligent power management and distribution, renewable energy and energy storage systems. (U.S. Army photo by 1LT Henry Chan, 16th SB, 21st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs)

Obviously there is a lot of technological ground to cover between vehicles with driver assistance and fully autonomous convoy operations. Technology needs to be available, secure from cyberattack and affordable, and ride on a flexible architecture. In addition to achieving the required technical performance goals, Soldiers will need operational training, which will help to provide feedback on the future tactics, techniques and procedures that will make autonomy suitable in a military environment. Ideally, this will someday enable autonomous ground resupply operations, but it begins with the driver-assist and leader-follower capabilities that are today a focus of the requirements, acquisition and S&T communities.

Meeting the Army’s power and water demands drives a substantial amount of resource requirements. For example, in FY12, DOD consumed an estimated $16.4 billion in liquid fuels, with more than 60 percent of it purchased outside the United States. Not all of that fuel went to the Army. But by comparison, in the same fiscal year, the Army’s entire base budget request for research, development, test and evaluation was $9.7 billion. In other words, the government spent nearly twice as much buying gas for DOD as we did on transitioning Army S&T.

Put another way, the “fully burdened” cost of a gallon of fuel sitting on a forward operating base in Afghanistan was about $7. That’s the total cost of buying the fuel and getting it to where our troops can actually use it. Not only does all of this fuel pose a tremendous fiscal challenge, but transporting it puts more Soldiers’ lives at risk and removes them from combat duties.

Operation Dynamo

OPERATION DYNAMO: A team moves an Improved Environmental Control Unit into place as part of Operation Dynamo, a PM E2S2 initiative designed to standardize generators and usage practices at combat outposts in Afghanistan. The effort saved 77,500 gallons of fuel per month, and reduced ground and air resupply needs at more than 50 combat outposts. (U.S. Army photo)

A noteworthy achievement over the past few years was the effort by PEO CS&CSS’ project manager for expeditionary energy and sustainment systems (PM E2S2) called Operation Dynamo, which standardized generators and usage practices at combat outposts in Afghanistan. That effort saved 77,500 gallons of fuel per month—31 times the capacity of the Army’s Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck Tanker—substantially reducing ground and air resupply needs at more than 50 combat outposts of various sizes.

As we look toward Army 2025, PM E2S2 is continuing to aggressively pursue technologies that reduce the need to transport fuel and water across the battlefield. This includes a new shower water reuse system and numerous efforts to examine water sourcing, intelligent power management and distribution, renewable energy and energy storage systems, all of which hold great potential for reducing the number of troops moving across the battlefield and the troops needed to operate sustainment systems once in place.

Beyond new technologies, more rigorous analysis is also central to shaping our equipment portfolios to meet Army 2025 objectives. PEO CS&CSS is deploying a Capability Portfolio Analysis Tool (CPAT) to help optimize investment and fielding decisions by using data about
fleet sizes and mixes, composition, procurement costs, operations and sustainment costs, and other factors.

CPAT improves investment decisions by allowing program managers to model and examine the costs—and impacts—of numerous different decisions, providing insights into how single modernization programs can affect an entire fleet. From the results, program managers can form and implement modernization strategies that most effectively balance cost, schedule and performance in pursuit of specific objectives.

Like any analysis, the results are only as good as the data, and for some details of equipment fleets or portfolios, the data we have today are insufficient. In many cases, detailed data for smaller systems are just not tracked. However, the TWV fleet represents a great opportunity to explore CPAT’s benefits. Admittedly, data for the fleet are incomplete, due in part to the large volumes of trucks used in different theaters and the high number of individual variants for both military and commercially based trucks.

The TWV fleets are generally young and the product of valuable lessons learned from decades of war. Starting with their mature technology and relatively healthy state, CPAT provides a powerful tool to begin understanding the timing, scope and cost of potential modernization decisions—especially those that improve the fleet’s fuel efficiency, force protection, network connectivity and other desired attributes in the future force.


SHRINKING THE FOOTPRINT: A contracted forklift driver prepares to load a customer’s truck at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, July 22, 2014. No matter where the Army goes, it must move scalable formations into and out of a wide variety of operating environments, and it is vital to unburden Soldiers by reducing convoy manning requirements, logistical footprints and fuel and water requirements. (Photo by SGT Michael K. Selvage, 10th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)

No one knows exactly where the Army will be in the year 2025 and beyond, but we can reasonably expect that it will need to do more—in more places—than it has in the past. Whether called upon for major contingency operations or a range of smaller actions, anything we can do to strengthen the Army’s tooth, whether in combat power or assistance missions, will make that force a more capable and successful one.

Everywhere the Army goes, it takes with it at least a small part of the CS&CSS portfolio to build, move, maintain or otherwise sustain itself. The need for that capability won’t go away, but to the extent we can reduce its impact and the Army’s footprint, PEO CS&CSS is committed to incorporating Army 2025 attributes into our programs and the way we do business.

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MS. MUNIRA TOURNER serves on the PEO CS&CSS staff, currently leading the Systems Engineering and Capabilities Management Team. She has more than 23 years of Army systems engineering and program management experience in S&T and acquisition, and is Level III certified in systems planning, research, development and engineering and program management. She holds an M.S. degree in electrical and systems engineering from Oakland University and a B.S in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan. She is a member of the Army Acquisition Corps.

MR. MICHAEL CLOW serves on the PEO CS&CSS staff with responsibilities for organizational strategy and engagement. He holds a B.S. in political science from Albion College and is completing graduate work in international relations at Creighton University.

This article was originally published in the January – March 2015 issue of Army AL&T magazine.

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