Washington, D.C. —
To avoid the support problems encountered during the post-Vietnam modernization effort development of — "The Big Five" — the Army Sustainment community is working closely with Army Futures Command to ensure that current modernization efforts include both the weapons of tomorrow and the support systems necessary to sustain them in combat.
BIG FIVE MODERNIZATION
Fifty years ago, the Army responded to an evolved threat and aging weapon systems with a new concept and new doctrine. In the early 1970s, as the United States reduced its military involvement in Southeast Asia, Army leaders shifted their focus from global deterrence toward defending Western Europe from an attack by Warsaw Pact forces. The 1976 version of Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, introduced the Active Defense concept as the intellectual framework for how the Army would "fight outnumbered and win."
This concept attracted criticism on several points, including its exclusive focus on defense in Europe. Refinements in concept and doctrine ultimately led to the 1982 version of FM 3-0 and the concept of AirLand Battle, a more comprehensive approach to defeating a numerically superior foe.
This doctrinal transformation influenced every aspect of the Army's organization, training, materiel, leader development, personnel, and facilities. In the materiel domain, the new concept accelerated the Army's efforts to upgrade key weapon systems.
These efforts began years earlier as a disjointed series of initiatives to upgrade the M60 tank, the M113 armored personnel carrier, the AH-1 Cobra helicopter, the UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, and our anti-aircraft capability. In the early 1970s, senior leaders synchronized these efforts, coining the term "The Big Five" to identify the weapons systems needed to execute the new doctrine.
While Army leaders synchronized development of the five weapon systems, they did not prioritize development of supporting vehicles and equipment. The Army had not entirely ignored the need for better trucks, heavy transports, and bulk fuelers, but these programs were not integrated with development of the Big Five.
Hence, it encountered capacity issues with such systems as the heavy expanded mobility tactical truck, or HEMTT, heavy equipment transporter, and M88 Hercules recovery vehicle.
Evolution of the Army's M88 recovery vehicle illustrates the problem. The original M88 recovery vehicle was built on the chassis of the M60 Patton tank of the early 1960s. The Army designed the vehicle to enable battle damage assessment and repair or recovery of fighting vehicles while under fire.
In 1977, the Army fielded an upgraded M88A1, several years before fielding the M1 Abrams tank and M2/3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Unfortunately, like the original M88, the M88A1 was still a "medium recovery vehicle," ill-suited to handle either the M1 or the M2/3 with their subsequent enhancements. As the Army began upgrading the M1 tank during the 1980s and 1990s, both the M1A1 and M1A2 tanks exceeded 70 tons, and two M88A1s were required to tow the new tanks.
Development of a more powerful M88A2 heavy recovery vehicle helped, but that solution is temporary and already facing challenges. The M1A2 System Enhancement Package (SEP) continues to add more weight to the Army's main battle tanks, forcing developers to consider further upgrades to its recovery vehicles and other support systems.
Development of the Big Five during the post-Vietnam era symbolizes the Army's remarkable transformation into a lethal, rapidly deployable combat force. One of the hard lessons from that transformation, however, was the fact that development of sustainment capabilities needed to keep pace with the weapons systems that require their support.
Acknowledging this lesson, then Undersecretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy observed that "when you had these five weapons systems, you had to create HETs and HEMTTs and all the capability that enabled those weapons systems in combat. And so you learn along the way, if you will."
WHAT ARE WE DOING DIFFERENTLY THIS TIME?
The good news, as McCarthy pointed out, is that we have learned from our previous mistakes.
Today's Army faces modernization challenges similar to those it confronted in the post-Vietnam era.
Once again, the Army must respond to evolving threats with new concepts, new doctrine, and new weapons systems. The Army must prepare for LSCO in highly contested, lethal environments where enemies employ powerful long-range fires and other weapons that match or exceed our own capabilities.
To meet this challenge, the Army published its new capstone doctrine in FM 3-0 in 2017, which nests with the Army's Operating Concept, "The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028" (MDO).
FM 3-0 describes how the Army, as part of a joint team, conducts responsive and sustained LSCO.
As in the past, the Army continues to pursue changes in doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leader development, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) to execute our new capstone doctrine to defeat these new threats.
As we do that, we are incorporating the sustainment integration lesson learned from the past through two basic approaches under the lead of U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command: comprehensive integration of sustainers within the materiel development of new systems led by the Army Futures Command's cross-functional teams and development of sustainment solutions fully integrated within Army-wide DOTMLPF solutions.
SUSTAINMENT WITHIN AFC EFFORTS
In regard to the first point, senior leaders have acknowledged the Army's need to change how it develops required capabilities and how it acquires weapon systems to succeed in future wars. Army Directive 2017-24, "Cross-Functional Team Pilot in Support of Materiel Development," and subsequent guidance set the direction for development.
In October 2017, the Army established eight cross-functional teams focused on the following capabilities:
- Long-range precision fires (LRP)
- Next generation combat vehicle (NGCV)
- Future vertical lift (FVL)
- Network command, control, communication, and intelligence
- Assured positioning, navigation, and timing (A-PNT)
- Air and missile defense (AMD)
- Soldier lethality (SL)
- Synthetic training environment (STE)
The CFTs include expertise in acquisition, requirements determination, science and technology, test and evaluation, resourcing, contracting, cost analysis, military operations, and most germane to this discussion, sustainment.
We have learned from our mistakes; and, capability developers from CASCOM are tightly integrated into the work of the CFTs. Team members share well-defined team goals with regular, open communication with each other, rather than individually providing input and reviewing products, as was frequently the case in past materiel efforts.
Sustainment representatives influence sustainability throughout the process to ensure that all concepts, requirements determination, and materiel development efforts address critical sustainment considerations.
The coordination and cross-talk within each CFT ensures that CASCOM developers are properly nesting their efforts with emerging modernization initiatives across all the DOTMLPF domains. In addition, CASCOM developers support modeling, experimentation, science and technology, demonstrations, and testing associated with AFC initiatives to ensure sustainability.
Sustainers have begun participating in all of the subsidiary lines of effort worked by the CFTs. In this context, its developers:
- Serve as members of integrated process teams working aspects of the overall CFT mission.
- Participate in work groups developing the documents to identify requirements.
- Identify cross-cutting sustainment complementary and enabling requirements.
- Perform sustainment impact analyses in such areas as maintenance, supply, transportation, and recovery.
- Participate in assessments to determine DOTMLPF solutions to mitigate sustainment gaps associated with CFT development efforts.
CASCOM is also working to expand direct engagements within the LOEs worked by the FVL, Network and A-PNT CFTs with their significant impacts on sustainment.
In addition to these efforts within CFTs, CASCOM personnel support another AFC initiative designed to avoid issues identified during the Big Five modernization effort. That initiative is designed to systematically achieve horizontal integration across CFT projects to fully enable an integrated approach to solutions designed for mission success in multi-domain operations in 2028.
To achieve this integration, AFC's Futures and Concepts Center has established a Horizontal Integration Tiger Team to identify and document CFT interdependencies; to frame challenges and opportunities to work across functions; and, to provide sound analytics to inform senior leader decisions on modernization.
SUSTAINMENT CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
Facilitating the Army's ability to integrate its warfighting functions, or WfF, is the role of its centers of excellence. Under the leadership of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and its U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, each CoE serves as the force modernization proponent for its associated WfF.
In that capacity, each is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of DOTMLPF.
CASCOM serves as the CoE for the sustainment WfF. As CASCOM operates under the leadership of TRADOC and CAC, it also receives guidance from U.S. Army Materiel Command and Department of the Army G-4, as well as input from field units as it seeks to implement sustainment solutions within the modernization strategy led by the AFC.
Extensive coordination among all these stakeholders is vital as CASCOM works to prioritize and develop the most critical solutions among all the competing requirements.
CASCOM does not have the resources to develop these solutions on its own; it must foster effective partnerships with all the stakeholders to achieve the modernization goals.
In fulfilling this role as the SCoE, besides integrating sustainers on the CFTs, CASCOM is working to develop the sustainment solutions required to fully support large scale combat operations during MDO.
As an example, CASCOM has developed a trailer strategy that addresses existing capability gaps and consolidates requirements, while simultaneously meeting mobility requirements presented by the future force in MDO.
Like the earlier M88 example, the Army's current fleet of trailers lacks the capacity to support critical systems such as the Paladin and field artillery ammunition support vehicle, or FAASV, because the trailers do not meet height and weight restrictions for highway underpasses in Europe. This situation is exacerbated by new and heavier weapons systems currently under development.
CASCOM's strategy will consolidate trailer types by developing a more capable medium equipment transporter system and an enhanced heavy equipment transporter.
The METS will be a lowbed trailer capable of transporting two thirds of the combat platforms in an armored brigade combat team.
The EHET will transport an 85-ton payload, such as the M1A2 SEPv3 tank over road networks required for worldwide deployment. The strategy is an important example of a sustainment solution that resolves a current issue while also anticipating and supporting the capabilities necessary to fight and win the conflicts of tomorrow.
During the Army's modernization at the end of the 20th Century, sustainment capabilities failed to keep pace with development of the big five weapon systems.
The Army paid the price in terms of capability gaps, such as the inability to effectively recover its tanks. Fortunately, the Army has learned from those mistakes as it develops the next generation of combat systems.
Today, CASCOM operates as the Sustainment COE to synchronize sustainment developments with the efforts of the AFC, its CFTs, and other sustainment partners. Fulfilling that crucial sustainment integration role ensures the Army will have the right sustainment capabilities to win the next war.