December 2016 TRANSCOM Show: Ensuring Today’s Readiness and Advocating for Tomorrow’s Capabilities
The TRANSCOM Show held Dec. 16, 2016, featured Army Maj. Gen. David Clarkson, U.S. Transportation Command chief of staff, hosting Priority 1 Champion Air Force Maj. Gen. Giovanni Tuck, USTRANSCOM director, Operations and Plans Directorate, and Bruce Busler, USTRANSCOM director, Joint Distribution Process Analysis Center.
Clarkson kicked off the show stating the characterization of war is changing, necessitating the need to ensure readiness. Readiness has always been a command priority, but Air Force Gen. Darren McDew, USTRANSCOM commander, added advocating for tomorrow’s capabilities to ensure the command’s ability to look to and prepare for the future.
What do we mean by Readiness?
Tuck spoke about defining readiness, noting it’s a difficult term to explain. Readiness is trying to understand how to put a large combat force in place. Leadership has been looking into strategies, including the National Military Strategy, at the senior levels. Additionally, readiness includes defending the homeland and the accompanying resource requirements, including people, money, aircraft and ships.
Within the last six months, USTRANSCOM has worked to increase readiness. The combatant commands have delivered plans to USTRANSCOM to be reviewed from a transportation feasibility standpoint. Tuck noted the command’s own war-game aided the command in rethinking how to better operate in a contested environment. Clarkson said headquarters already has a good start on executing stronger operations in a contested environment. Tuck encouraged all of USTRANSCOM to compile and provide readiness options to McDew.
Responsive and Decisive Forces
Busler defined a “responsive force” as a force that rapidly provides combatant command requirements. A “decisive force” has the ability to provide major combat formations over time, providing the ability to connect to allies. Speed is becoming more and more important in today’s environment, as are multimodal operations, which provide the ability to engage and provide to a landlocked country. Busler stated both responsive and decisive forces need to be healthy and complementary to be successful. Managing, controlling and monitoring these forces are necessary to increase readiness.
Today’s Readiness Issues
There is a manpower shortage in three basic areas: sealift, airlift and surface. McDew frequently notes the importance of having the proper resources to support readiness, and components are paying close attention to these shortages.
As U.S. shipping decreases, the number of mariners is declining. USTRANSCOM is looking to ensure a robust U.S. shipping enterprise to fight the diminishing workforce, while the Air Force is working to collaborate with commercial airlines to lower military pilot attrition. While the truck driver shortage is not a new issue, it is being discussed more frequently because commercial industries are also facing the shortage. Tuck noted the command is looking at ways to incentivize folks to stay in each of these industries.
Defense Logistics Agency and USTRANSCOM
USTRANSCOM and the Defense Logistics Agency have a unique and strong relationship. Busler spoke about the Strategy, Capabilities, Policy and Logistics directorate doing a great job addressing specific requirements of how the command can better work with DLA. The challenge is how USTRANSCOM and DLA can continue to build on successes and not rest on the laurels already achieved.
Evolving over time
As a combatant command, USTRANSCOM must have the ability to go to war. Because the capability to go to war changes over time, the command must adjust to meet new changes. Busler noted cyber is the one area USTRANSCOM knows adversaries can touch the logistics enterprise.
How USTRANSCOM evolves for the future will change the very nature of how the command thinks and acts. USTRANSCOM must be ready to go into big conflict and operate in an adversary-challenging environment while providing the manpower to face these challenges.
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