Acting Director MG Robert “Bo” Dyess’ Comments:
“You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.”
“Logistic considerations belong not only in the highest echelons of military planning during the process of preparation for war and for specific wartime operations, but may well become the controlling element with relation to timing and successful operation.”
“Gentlemen, the officer who doesn’t know his communications and supply as well as his tactics is totally useless.”
“We will not have the luxury of having this massive amount of logistics behind us in future higher end, higher intensity conflict.”
The Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) concept describes the future vision of how the Army will fight as part of the Joint Force in a complex environment against near-peer competitors that will challenge American supremacy across all domains (land, air, maritime, space, and cyberspace). A key element of the MDB concept is resilient formations that can maneuver and fight to seize and retain the initiative for periods of up to seven days without continuous supply lines or secured flanks. To be successful in a contested environment, MDB movement and maneuver cannot be restrained by the tethers of traditional supply lines and the large quantities of supplies that have been a signature of the U.S. military since the American Civil War. To break these logistical tethers, the Army must reduce demand as part of the logistical strategy to improve support to formations on the modern battlefield.
Historically, water, fuel, and ammunition constitute the highest demand signals for the Army. This week’s professional reading articles examine several of the impacts of these demand signatures. In “Refuel on the Move: Resupplying Patton’s Third Army,” Captain Daniel G. Grassi argues that logistics restrained Patton’s ability to maneuver, slowed his operational reach, and limited his desire and ability to fight on a broader front. In his interview with FRONTLINE in 2004, GEN David Perkins (then COL Perkins), described the impact of an incident of tactical demand reduction during the second "Thunder Run” to take the city of Baghdad. In this incident, while still engaged with the enemy, he directed tank engines to be shut down for extended periods of time. Describing the impact of this directive on mission command, he stated that “if you shut their engines off, every hour that the engine is shut off, it's another hour of decision time I have to make” on considering whether to continue the attack into Bagdad, consolidate current gains and establish defensive positions, or withdraw from the city.
Recently, Brigadier General David Komar, Director of Capabilities Development for the Army Capabilities Integration Center, emphasized that in addition to being a key consideration of MDB, “demand reduction is a critical component of the National Defense Strategy’s effort to modernize key capabilities with respect to fielding resilient and agile logistics. This requires the issue of demand reduction to be examined holistically, as there are several areas where it can be achieved. Demand reduction will allow the Joint Force to extend operational reach, reduce mission risk, and improve readiness, giving commanders an operational advantage to exploit windows of opportunity.
The Army Capabilities Integration Center recently published a Demand Reduction White Paper on February 21, 2018. The White Paper posits the problem statement that in order to improve combat effectiveness, extend operational reach and reduce risk, the Army must reduce demand for sustaining the force while maintaining overmatch to conduct Unified Land Operations now and MDB in the future. The purpose of the white paper is to promote thought and discussion concerning methods and capabilities required to sustain the Multi-Domain Battle force and to assist with clearly understanding and defining requirements, identifying and assessing risk, and focusing efforts on outputs and end states. The paper provides the frame work to examine the five underlying components of Demand Reduction:
- Improve Effectiveness and Efficiency
- Meet demand at the Point of Need
- Employ Robotics and Autonomous Systems
- Improve Situational Awareness
- Cultural Change
The white paper asserts that a shift towards demand reduction is necessary for the future Army and joint force to be successful in conducting semi-independent operations. Without demand reduction, Soldiers and teams will be more vulnerable across the expanded operational environment, not just forward edge of the battlefield. The Army must integrate efforts across the DOTMLPF-P domains to achieve objectives of improved effectiveness and efficiency, meet demand at the point of need, automate tasks, and improve situational understanding. The desired end-state envisions operating forces conducting MDB semi-independently in contested environments over extended ranges. Demand reduction will facilitate operations at a tempo the enemy cannot respond to or sustain, while rapidly concentrating combat power to close with and destroy enemy forces.
If you have further questions or are interested in participating in the Demand Reduction effort please contact: COL Chris Corizzo, Sustainment Division Chief, ARCIC, (757) 501-5611, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Mr. Steven Behel, (757) 501-5544, email@example.com.