AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar, April 20, 2017 —
U.S. military logistics experts and leaders from across the Department of Defense gathered for a week of planning conferences at the U.S. Central Command Forward Headquarters here, April 3 - 7, 2017.
The week included two separate sessions aimed at ensuring the joint logistics enterprise aligns efforts across the CENTCOM area of responsibility to maintain an effective readiness for both current and future operations.
“Logistics is a primary warfighting function critical to operational success,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Edward Dorman, CENTCOM logistics and engineering director. “There is no mission without the logistician and this week allowed us to look at ourselves collectively and make sure we’re postured with purpose. That will allow us to pursue opportunities to be the best steward of resources, leverage capabilities most effectively and act efficiently so we can prevail at whatever mission we’re given.”
Ready to ‘ROC’
The week started with an Operation Inherent Resolve Phase III Rehearsal of Concept, or ROC, drill aimed at planning to equip and sustain the next stage defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria bringing together joint and Coalition partner logisticians from across Combined Joint Task Force-OIR and partner mission support organizations. The discussion focused on ensuring the multinational joint logistics enterprise remains postured and enabled to support known and emerging requirements as the conflict continues following the liberation of Mosul.
“We brought the entire logistics community together from the tactical level at the individual units through the operational level at the headquarters and up to the strategic level with the combat support agencies to really understand the requirements necessary to execute phase three of the OIR plan and accelerate the military defeat of ISIS,” said Dorman. “We operate in a multidomain battlefield. Our ability to understand those domains, how they come together and their vulnerabilities and strengths, will allow us to extend operational reach and commander flexibility to execute operations.”
While the drill provided a forum to solidify sustainment for the third phase of OIR, Dorman said the logisticians also used the opportunity to plan for the future of the operation.
“While we were looking at how we are going to execute phase three and what it will take in terms of logistics, sustainment and engineering, we also worked to set the conditions to transition to the next phase because logistics has to happen first before maneuver can occur,” he said. “During wartime, resiliency in logistics support is the most important thing we do. So if we’re not building resiliency and not reducing the vulnerabilities to our logistics infrastructure, we will slow the operational tempo and impede the effectiveness of maneuver and building partner capacity which affects all other lines of effort.”
‘Forging the force we want from the force we have’
Discussions during the second half of the week emphasized long-term planning and sustainment of operations in the 20 countries that encompass the CENTCOM theater of operations during the Joint Logistics Coordination Board.
“It’s the only forum in CENTCOM that acts as a working group for logisticians from across the Department of Defense to come together to ensure we are prepared,” said Col. Willie Rios III, CENTCOM logistics and engineering director of operations. “The theme for the board is to look at our joint posture to see if we’re set correctly for future operations. We’re looking to see if we have any gaps, and if we do, we are working together to figure out how to mitigate them.”
According to Rios, the board acts as not only an opportunity to prepare for long-term operations, but a chance to create a common understanding of the operational environment and learn from each other.
“It’s really the relationships we build here. We all work together to solve the key issues. Not any one agency can solve all the problems. It takes a community to solve them,” he said. “This helps the logistics community because we can have one common voice. This shows everyone in the logistic community they’re not in it alone, CENTCOM is helping and the joint staff is shouldering some of the effort.”
This common understanding translates to a cohesive, interdependent logistics enterprise able to meet the wartime requirements of combatant commanders, said Dorman.
“CENTCOM’s approach to operations is ‘prepare, pursue and prevail.’ Interdependence is what we do as a joint force to achieve this goal,” he said. “If we understand how there are risks and how to mitigate them, we can function as a cohesive team and when we see an opportunity, we can seize and exploit the initiative and provide the force we want from the force we have.”
Working for the warfighter
Currently, CENTCOM directly contributes to three simultaneous operations throughout the Middle East, each dealing with a complex set of environments and entities.
While the board concluded at the end of the week, Dorman said the logistics community has no plans to stop working for the warfighter.
“The logisticians here this week come from a wide portfolio of skills, but they are the people who enable operations to occur. They may not be at the pointy end of the spear, but without them, we couldn’t even have operations,” he said. “This board shows we are a thinking and learning group of joint logisticians who will anticipate requirements, be responsive and ensure the warfighter never has to look back.”