In a conflict/post-conflict environment like Iraq, many of the dynamics I explored in my post on "the role of supply chain logistics in shrinking the Gap" are in full force. These dynamics can be framed within the FAR matrix that I have introduced at this site, and thus allows me to expand on the "security flow architectures" portion of that visual aid.
On April 14, Brigadier General Rebecca Halstead, commander of the 3rd Corps Support Command, provided an operational update from Iraq within Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Balad, Iraq. This brief is great because it presents examples of each architecture that Joseph Cavinato lays out as essential in high performance supply chains. Keep the picture graphic to the left for reference.
You might ask "How does Iraq connect to the logistics scene of East Asia?" Well, during the recent Tokyo meeting of the CSCMP (Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals) on March 24, I spoke with a Commander in the US Navy (General Counsel) who described how frequently the Yokosuka base supplies operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and in general the Middle East (CENTCOM area of operations). This includes people as well as equipment. Also, as General Halstead points out in her brief, US military operations in South Korea also are part of the supply chains supporting CENTCOM operations. These are very extended supply chains.
First, General Halstead discusses the complexity of the military's physical architecture. I have posted on the importance of people power in logistics, where people are the most important aspect of the physical architecture of any supply chain. In case of the military, General Halstead's brief explains that the focus is the same:
"Let me begin by telling you, first and foremost, about our most important and valued resource, the centerpiece of our organization: our brave men and women who proudly and expertly serve in the 3rd Corps Support Command.
"We come from all 50 states and from Guam, American Samoa and Puerto Rico. And some of our units deployed to Iraq from -- excuse me -- from Korea and Germany. We also have an augmentation of over 5,000 civilian contractors, which we consider our ninth brigade in the command.
"Just as diversity is our nation's strength, I really believe it's the strength of the 3rd Corps Support Command as well. My number-one priority will always be on the people, our soldiers and leaders and civilians and their families. Our men and women are on point for our nation. They are America's sons and daughters. They're willing to live for our nation by serving. They're trained and disciplined. They're competent and confident. And they are the ones who accomplish the mission every single day.
Describing some more of the physical architecture:
"Our mission is critical to the success of the Multinational Corps (the customer). Quite simply, our main effort is the receipt, storage, issue, transportation, security and distribution of logistics required to support the major commands (the customer) across the entire area of operations.
"Now, on a daily basis, what that means is, we move over 120 combat logistics patrols. That is, on average, over 17,000 trucks a week. We produce over 7 million gallons of bulk water a day. We distribute over 1 million gallons of fuel, over 9 million short tons of ammunition and over 80,000 cases of water. That's a day."
Jumping to innovational architectures, General Halstead illustrates how her group provides value-added activities to the supply chain:
"Now, I am pleased to report, however, that we have just begun production of water at our second water bottling plant in Iraq. This enables us to reduce the number of trucks and drivers that we put on our road every day. We also prepare over 500 pallets of supplies that are flown each day. Again, this keeps us from having to put additional trucks and personnel on the road."
And of course, we also have relational architectures in action to raise supply chain performance even further:
"We execute our logistics mission in concert with many other organizations, like our partners in the Air Force, who support us with a variety of aircraft to help us maximize the air movement and minimize the ground movement. In the month of March, for instance, we reached an all-time goal of moving over 16,000 pallets by air. We also have a partner brigade from the Army Materiel Command, largely made of civilians. They provide critical services in the areas of maintenance, armoring vehicles and also for fielding of new equipment. That's just to name a few. None of us operate solely independently. Our success is clearly a team sport."
Within the security flows driven by Multinational Forces, the Iraqi supply chain architectures are being built and cultivated in parallel. Ideally, the resulting dynamic will be two parallel sets of supply chains that can be interchangeable at designated levels. First, as illustrated above, it is important to establish the people portion of the supply chain for Iraqi forces. That is in full force and completely interchangeable at around 35%. Another portion of about 35% is in development and the remaining 30% of security flows must be maintained solely by Multinational Forces. General Halstead illustrates the effort behind standing up this critical, people portion:
"Another aspect of our mission is to support and train the Iraqi security force. As you would imagine, there are different levels of logistics units in the Iraqi army, just as we have in our own forces. So in the 3rd COSCOM, our mission is to partner with the Iraqi army's motorized transportation regiments. We call those MTRs. We also provide technical support and assistance to the Iraqi army national depot and the regional support units. They provide maintenance and supply support.
"The Iraqi army is organized into 10 divisions, and there will be nine MTRs. The Iraqi Mechanized Division does not require an MTR. As of today, the 3rd COSCOM partners with three MTRs, and we will receive our fourth MTR by the end of the month, and we will partner with a total of eight by the end of 2006. The British will partner with the ninth MTR. Our goal is to bring them to a higher level of readiness in preparation for them being assigned to their Iraqi army division.
"For the national depot and the regional support units, our focus is mainly on training them on warehousing operations, assisting them with the development of their logistics concepts for their support systems, like ordering parts and supplies, prioritizing their work and their maintenance and coordinating the distribution to support their army units and sustain their readiness."
As for the non-people, physical architectures like the national depot discussed above, it comes into play at this segment of the brief:
"...in terms of equipping, as you know, MNSTC-I is the command and agency that does all the equipping for the forces, and they're still in the process of equipping units. And we're seeing some great progress in that. We assist at Taji National Depot to help move equipment to units. And we've moved in the last several months over a thousand pieces of equipment -- and I see "we" -- we have helped the Iraqis move this themselves. We have not moved anything personally. It's just helping them in their system and in their process."
Next, General Halstead illustrates how the airborne physical architectures are integrated into an intermodal dynamic:
"The way the air piece works is, as you identify a requirement to move things by air, the Air Force is really good at planning then sorties for us. So we give them (via informational architectures) what we anticipate that we can move by air pallets and have ready for them. And our goal is that no aircraft, no vehicle, no truck moves around empty, because, you know, we want to maximize both the ground and the air.
"Deciding what goes in the air is -- there are many factors. As a logistician, we look at weight. We look at the urgency that the supply is needed, how long -- you know, there are airfields that have to receive it, so you're looking at point of departure, point of arrival, the type of aircraft available. So there's a lot of factors in there. And that's why it's hard to maximize sometimes, because there are many different airfields, many different types of aircraft, and there's a lot of different ways to build your pallets."
Regarding a question on how improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hamper supply chain operations, General Halstead hints at the additional informational architecture on hand to deliver supply chain intelligence:
"And I think the last piece was, with the movement that we do have on the ground and the combat that we experience with IEDs and this sort of thing, how are we doing out on the roads is the way I would sum it up. I would like to tell you that -- and I can tell you -- that in the 3rd COSCOM we're doing really, really well. But I think if you remember in my opening statement, none of this happens alone. We don't operate in isolation. We get wonderful analysis and assessment from our intel folks on what is the threat out on the road. We travel in other maneuver commanders' terrain, and so it's an absolute important need to communicate with them as we travel, to get the latest information. If there's been an IED, we stop a logistics patrol from going into the same area till the area is cleared."
The effectiveness of this informational architecture delivers high performance results:
"And so in terms of casualties -- that was another part of your question -- I would just like to tell you that we had a soldier killed on 26 October to enemy -- and that's the last soldier that we have had killed to enemy fire. So you might say with an organization of 20,000, that's a great statistic. But what I would tell you, to that soldier's family that's 100 percent. So I think it's better that we don't talk in those terms or numbers, because every single soldier matters."
This supply chain is illustrated nicely here in the simplest of terms:
"And when we go out on the roads, every vehicle is looked at as a system--the team that's in the vehicle, the armor they're wearing, the armor they're riding in, the intel they've been given, the communications they're talking on--and that's a system that's moving down the road."
As for establishing a parallel Iraqi force supply chain, General Halstead comments on the number one challenge:
"One of the challenges is parts. It's not maintenance. I have never seen such a capability of people to fix. I told them I'm going to bring my Jeep over here so they can fix it. I mean, it's amazing. They can take something that you would not even believe would ever roll again and completely fix the vehicle. I often tease that I understand that concept, however, because I fly around Iraq a lot, and when I look out, you know, it can be miles and miles and miles and you'll see a shepherd -- that has a truck out there, by the way. And you just go, there is no Jiffy Lube, there is no gas station, but that truck is running around out there in the terrain. So they have great skill sets for fixing.
"But it is the parts that become an issue because there are different fleets of vehicles, and then moving those parts around. And I think that may be the greatest challenge."
Here again we see the importance of the Taji National Depot--a supply chain node--to the complete supply chain dynamic:
"Once the parts are ordered and come into regional support units to the Taji National Depot, then getting them out to the sites where the national maintenance contract teams are--I think that's going to be one of their biggest challenges. And what they're trying to come to grips with is they have a concept to prove--and I applaud them for this--the MOD has approved the concept, and now they're trying to really put some meat on how they're going to do--is it going to be civilian contracted in some areas? Is it going to be all military in some areas? And as that starts to mesh, we're helping them to understand and develop systems to do that."
Above you can see how an assessment of supply chain security determines the choice of architectural components--military or civilian transport systems? The steps and rule-sets involved in the transition from a military-level security to civilian-level security (public police and private security organizations) would be highly aided by an "enterprise resilience management" system as described for the FAR matrix.
In response to the question below, General Halstead comments on how the use of 3PLs (third-party logistics providers) reduces the military, physical architecture employed. In this case, the financial architecture available to deploy/manage cash becomes important for establishing this 3PL arm:
"Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service: I'm curious. You talk -- at the end of this effort, you'll have about 3,000 support troops -- I believe that's what I heard you say -- and I'm curious -- in light of a 250,000-member force, that seems like a very small logistics piece to support that. Will that be able to sustain?
"GEN. HALSTEAD: Okay. A very -- 20,000 seems like a very small number to -- considering the 250,000 of the force that's over here. Well -- and I would just tell you that although it's a logistics command, one entire brigade of the eight brigades provides security on our routes. They do escort security of the combat logistics patrols.
"I think probably one of the reasons why it sounds a little small to you would be because we really have learned the value added of leveraging contracts in our civilian workforce. And as I'm sure you know, for instance, we put money back into the economy over here by using, for instance, the Iraqi truck company. They--it's their drivers, their trucks, and they--you know, they provide some of the movement of logistics, and that's a great news story. It allows us to have a smaller footprint."
General Halstead clarifies this dynamic further after the question was reiterated:
"...I would not want to give the impression that they're the only Iraqi logistics forces. When I mentioned in my opening statement that there are different levels of logistics units in the Iraqi army, just like there are in our forces, there are what they--they have what they call HSC companies, headquarter supply companies. And there are almost a hundred of those companies. They're out with the maneuver brigades. So the partnership in the division goes down to the brigade and battalion level. So there are many other logistics units out there that are being trained and partnered by coalition forces. In the 3rd COSCOM, our focus is on the -- are on the MTRs. So there are many, many more logisticians and log units out there in support of that very large ISF, Iraqi security force."
As can be seen from this briefing, the complexity in military logistics is enormous. Although the informational architecture wasn't fully explored in terms of specifics, such as IT networks, communications tools, and equipment procurement, I can only assume this is extremely sophisticated given the details General Halstead provided above.
However, given that logistics aren't often considered a flashy or sexy topic of conversation, the civilian population likely hears very little, if anything at all, about these operations. But if your goal is "shrinking the Gap" in an environment like Iraq and elsewhere, in the midst of a conflict/post-conflict or post-disaster scenario, military logistics truly make the "world-go-round" until supply chains for the civilian infrastructure--across the four flows of economics, politics, security and people--can be sustained in parallel and in-sync.
UPDATE: Vets for Freedom blog has an update on another logistics center in Iraq. Please visit for the details!