Supply talk

Gen. Gus Perna, commander of Army Materiel Command, visits with soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division at the unit’s supply support activities to coach, teach and mentor as the Army’s senior logistician. Perna was at Fort Hood this week attending a sustainment summit to ensure the Army can remain competitive with future peer enemies.

FORT HOOD — A four-day sustainment training summit was held on Fort Hood to discuss the U.S. Army state of logistics and how to increase material readiness earlier this week.

The U.S. Army is adjusting the way it sustains its maneuver units to remain competitive against future threats from peer competitors on large-scale maneuver battlefields.

“It’s about executing our mission against a peer competitor, which essentially means sustaining a maneuver force on the battlefield,” said Gen. Gus Perna, chief of Army Materiel Command.

Perna said in the last 15 years the Army has been focused on the near-term problems of sustaining forward operating bases in Afghanistan and Iraq where up to 90 days of supplies like food, water and ammunition were accumulated.

“It was a very dangerous enemy when our soldiers went off the forward operating bases, but we were able to sustain them much easier than if we were on the manuever battlefield,” Perna said. “A manuever battlefield requires us to keep up with the maneuvering force and it’s an understanding that the enemy knows they have to fight in front of them, but also interdict what’s behind them or the supplies will be cut off.”

Perna said the key to doing this was understanding the changing dynamics and adjust from forward operating base logistics to manuever logistics.

Perna said Army Material Command’s responsibility in all of this is ensuring manuever commanders have the commodities such as food, water and ammunition on hand to meet their requirements and can be sustained on a continuous basis.

“Additionally, we are responsible for making sure they have the right equipment, for battlefield and installation contracting and making sure the industrial base, the depots, arsenals and plants are providing the best material capability for the soldier,” Perna said.

Another change that has been occurring for the last two years is how maintenance and supply are being carried out. Perna said this is normally a soldier’s responsibility, however, because of the continuous deployments, the need to have soldiers spend time with their families, and the need to have soldiers in combat focused on the fight, maintenance and supply were contracted out.

“What we’re doing now is pulling those contactors out of the force, and units are deploying with mechanics,” Perna said. “Leaders and soldiers are now responsible for maintenance and supply.”

Perna said the summit was a success in that Fort Hood leaders brought a community of leaders from the three Army components, leaders from the tactical, operational and strategic levels, together to identify sustainment problems, develop solutions and identify leaders to carry out those solutions.

“They saw themselves, they identified solutions, they are holding themselves accountable to those solutions, and at the end state we will have better sustainment for our force,” Perna said.

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