WASHINGTON — U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth has tasked Army Materiel Command to take the lead in a comprehensive effort to bolster logistics and sustainment in the Indo-Pacific region, Gen. Edward Daly, the command’s leader, told Defense News in an interview at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual exhibition.
The secretary said in an Oct. 10 speech that the effort would include using experimentation, war games and exercises to “bring together the logistics community with the commercial sector to look at our requirements and focus on the opportunities presented by autonomous distribution, energy efficient combat systems and data analytics.”
There are key differences to how the Army supports the force in Europe through logistics and sustainment, Daly said. In terms of how the service sets the theater in the Pacific in the future, “everything is on the table,” he said. “We really have to look at it through a different lens and not just use the lessons for Europe to pull them over to the Pacific.”
The Army pre-positioned stock that is afloat, or APS Afloat, is maintained by Army Field Support Battalion-Charleston and is the only floating stockpile in the theater. There are four other land-based Army pre-positioned stock locations in the Indo-Pacific area of operation.
Logistics, particularly contested logistics, will play a big role in upcoming exercises in the region, Daly said, adding that the Army has already trained on APS Afloat with the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.
“I think that brings a huge dimension, not just to have brick-and-mortar, on-the-ground stocks, but to have stocks afloat because that gives you flexibility based on access; you could demonstrate presence,” Daly said.
Given the size and scope, increasing the number of APS Afloat ships is “always on the table,” Daly added. But logistics and sustainment in the Pacific isn’t just about pre-positioned stock, and Materiel Command will work to identify gaps when it comes to equipment, doctrine, organizational design and facilities, Daly explained.
In a war game earlier this year, the Army learned it needed to better hone contested logistics plans and strategy,” Gen. Charles Flynn, U.S. Army Pacific commander, told Defense News in a separate interview.
And the Army as a whole acknowledges it won’t be able to deploy from fort to port uncontested. The service, in a nine-page annex in its new multidomain operations doctrine, lays out the need to contend with that reality.
The Army is also looking at such “cutting-edge technology like 3D printing of warehousing and forward-operating bases,” Daly said. “These are premiere technological advances that could be leveraged in the Pacific as we move forward.”
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.