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    Army translates sustainment lessons learned into actionable innovation

    Dr. Hill speaks at panel

    Photo By Eben Boothby | Dr. Chris Hill, Army Materiel Command, chief data analytics officer, speaks during...... read more read more



    Story by Samantha Tyler 

    U.S. Army Materiel Command   

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The Joint Strategic Support Area, where military might is generated, projected and sustained during the fight, must modernize to address pressure from adversaries, benign characters and criminal enterprises.

    That was the overarching message during the contemporary military forum panel discussion on “Delivering Precision Sustainment in Support of Ready Combat Formations,” at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition March 26, in Huntsville, Alabama.

    “Modernization is about more than weapons systems,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Mohan, Army Materiel Command’s deputy commanding general and acting AMC commander. “We must transform and modernize the sustainment warfighting function including infrastructure, training, processes and skillsets necessary to support next generation warfighting capabilities. Part of this is translating battlefield lessons learned into actionable innovation now.”

    Some of these lessons learned have come from ongoing support to allies and partners in Europe. Members of the AMC Analysis Group have deployed to Europe since August 2022, supporting Army, joint force and multi-national partners through predictive sustainment. Dr. Christopher Hill, AMC’s chief data and analytics officer and the director of the AMCAG, said while his team has been using advanced analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities for a long time, they have noticed a difference in the speed, scale, volume and dynamics of large scale combat operations and the resulting data and analytics.

    “It's been almost like building an airplane while in flight, figuring out how to adjust our approach while operations were going on,” Hill said. “The benefit of that has been that it's forced us to do a lot of learning very quickly, and it's allowed us to do a lot of innovation.”

    This innovation is found in the AMC Predictive Analytics Suite, or APAS. In this system, the Army has leveraged forecasting techniques and algorithms to forecast repair parts and ammunition well into the future. For a situation like ongoing operations in Europe, this means the Army has visibility in the availability of repair parts and ammunition now and in the future, as well as potential scenarios that would put availability at risk and how to mitigate that risk.

    In addition, APAS has simulations that represent the integration of force structure and the development of new units. In Europe, this means the Army can tell if the Ukrainian objectives were going to be met on time or when problems would occur before they occurred.

    These tools have also allowed Army leaders to see the bigger picture: how continued large scale combat operations affect readiness, not just of systems but of units. The AMCAG has mapped the transportation network starting at the Joint Strategic Support Area to the point of delivery to the Ukrainians. These tools have provided visibility in a way that has not been seen before.

    “It's allowed the logistics leaders to change their plan of support,” Hill said. “When we forecast that something's not going to be there when the operator needs it, it also enables that commander to make decisions. So, if we have a mode of transportation that's not going to deliver something in time, the commander can change the mode of transportation before that becomes a problem.”

    These tools have provided a plethora of lessons learned, including the importance of command-driven culture, buy-in from staff and collaboration.

    “When a commander has a specific problem, we use data and analytics to solve that problem, but the real secret sauce to our success is our workforce, our great Soldiers and our resilient civilians who have moved forward to support this,” Hill said. “Their skills are unmatched. Their ingenuity and ability to innovate is quite impressive. When you can take a functional logistician who's an expert in the data and pair them with a data scientist or an operations research analyst who understands the analytics side, you definitely have the recipe for success.”

    A cultural shift extends beyond the tactical edge, to the schoolhouse. Maj. Gen. Michelle Donahue, commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command, said CASCOM works to develop solutions that will sustain future combat formations, while also training and educating thousands of Soldiers to fight and win each year. The new FM 4-0, the field manual that provides tactics and procedures that address the sustainment warfighting function, is coming soon.

    “The Army’s multi-domain operations challenges, particularly sustainment gaps, are a current threat to the Army’s ability to open and set theaters at the speed of relevance. We have to think differently about how we generate readiness and sustain large scale combat operations tomorrow, next year and over the next decade,” Donahue said. “Predictive logistics isn't a sustainment capability. It's a warfighting capability that builds combat readiness at the Sustainment Center of Excellence.”

    The Army is also working to develop solutions at the speed of relevance. Col. Shane Upton, director of the Contested Logistics Cross-Functional Team, provided updates on how the Army is implementing new efforts and experimenting through venues like Project Convergence Capstone 4. For example, the CL CFT is working on human-machine integration, particularly in cases like multi-domain resupply and using drones to send critical repair parts, small amounts of ammunition or 3D printed parts from sea to shore.

    “There are tasks in the sustainment warfighting function, as we build readiness and deliver readiness, that can be offloaded on machines,” Upton said. “We are going to need capabilities of some of these unmanned platforms to have greater range, have a greater payload capability and be able to loiter and turn as we need to redirect that critical sustainment at the point of need. It ties back to that precision piece.”

    Another big effort is to reduce fuel burn rates by hybrid technology and advanced power technologies, like hydrogen fuel cells, so resupply can occur either less frequently or the combat formations forward can go longer before resupplying fuel.

    Across these efforts, collaboration with joint and industry partners is critical, whether it’s in developing new fueling technology, improving the Army’s use of drones or implementing innovations like cutting edge AI capabilities in new ways.

    “We’ve come a long way in those endeavors, but we have a long way to go,” Mohan said. “But with your help, and our continued partnership, I have no doubt that we will continue to deliver precision sustainment in support of ready combat formations.”


    Date Taken: 03.29.2024
    Date Posted: 04.01.2024 11:03
    Story ID: 467475

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