AMMAN, Jordan - Logistics is often considered the motor of military exercises and operations, and here at Eager Lion 2015, a multinational exercise here involving the U.S. and 17 other partner nations, it is no different.
Logisticians make that motor run smoothly. The exercise, which takes place May 5-19, is designed to facilitate responses to conventional and unconventional threats.
Supporting the training missions and people involved, transporting equipment, people and other necessities from point A to B, is no easy feat when the simulated battlespace spans more than 200 miles.
Far before any boots arrive on ground and training begins, a team of logisticians work in concert with contracting officers, commercial companies and resource managers to ensure contracts are developed and in place 30 days prior to the start of the exercise.
“As logisticians, we face our greatest challenges prior to the start of the exercise,” said U.S. Army Maj. Carey W. Menifee, a logistics planner with Special Operations Command Central, or SOCCENT, and the lead logistics coordinator for the exercise.
“Developing the concept of support is the difficult part of our job," he said. "As we plan logistics support, an integral part of our effort is obtaining each organization's life support, training and transportation requirements.”
There are complexities of meeting every unit’s requirements, not to mention each of the services’ needs.
“We determine what the right mechanisms are for supporting each of those requirements,” Menifee added.
Having supported Eager Lion for the past four years, Air Force Tech Sgt. Pauline Berger, a movements/coordination planner with SOCCENT, said liaising between the units and other nations is very rewarding.
“Every year we build upon the year before,” said Berger. “Not only do we get to work with each other, we are building relationships with the Jordanians, Canadians, Lebanese, Pakistanis and our other partners.”
Berger and the other logisticians not only submit requirements by processing orders, they ensure the delivery of goods, taking inventory, assist in packing, picking up, distributing, unloading and moving many pieces of equipment. Sometimes this takes place at airports and seaports and includes anything from vehicles to ammunition.
“Working with our Jordanian partners helps us understand who and what exactly we need to best support everyone and how to make our processes work together,” said Berger.
“When we submit our requirements, we go directly to the Jordanian Armed Forces movement point of contact, and they help us work directly with the contractors to get forklifts, trucks or escorts," she said. "They let us know how they’d like for us to submit requests.”
“I love working with the Jordanians,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jacques Deverson, from SOCCENT's logistics directorate. “They know what needs to be done. They’re reliable. We have no concerns, because they’re that good.”
The logisticians execute the basic life support needs every day, emerging or static.
“No one cares about logistics until you don't have one of three essentials to any military operation: beans, bullets, or Band-Aids,” Menifee said.
“What's funny to see is when troops come into a camp, most expect Spartan-like conditions. So, when they enter the camps at the Eager Lion exercise, many troops are a bit overwhelmed by the exceptional menu and the carpeted tents,” he continued.
It’s the attention to detail, Menifee said, which companies, contractors and partners provide that makes the difference.
“We help provide the large, strategic-level products like life support, camp life support, water, wastewater and living facilities,” Deverson said.
Jordanian army Maj. Jafar Al-Nazami, a logistics operations officer for 18 years, said Eager Lion provides many opportunities at a logistical level.
“The Jordanian Armed Forces have standards and applications, and in the exercise, we have the chance to know how other armies work and what their standards are,” said Al-Nazami.
Not only does training together help everyone understand how to operate in an operational environment, he said, it helps build those necessary relationships.
“I like the good experiences and getting to know the other cultures, improving our languages and improving our plans,” said Al-Nazami. "The bigger lessons we learn here are to work according to NATO standards, and that is very good,” he said.
“Troops need to have energy, and as logistics professionals, we provide all personnel services support that helps keep soldiers alive,” Al Nazami said. “We make improvements for morale.”
A strong working relationship between logistics and operations is critical, said Al-Nazami.
“The relationship is strongly dependent upon each other,” Berger said. “Our relationship is two-fold. Without logistics, the mission cannot happen, and we cannot support them if we don’t know what the requirements are.”
Synchronization is the key, said U.S. Army Maj. Joseph Vigueras, the lead operations officer for Eager Lion 2015.
“Our logistics folks support making the operation happen, and they’re a valuable asset,” Vigueras added.