Logistics Key in Future Warfare

Innovation Needed to Maintain US Military Global Mobility

In a time when the nature and the tools of war are evolving, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command (Transcom) called on military leaders of the future to think and lead differently to meet these and other coming challenges.

Air Force Gen. Darren W. McDew spoke to an audience during the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Washington, April 4.

Transcom — with 140,000 personnel worldwide — manages the U.S. global defense transportation system, he told the audience.

“Some people believe that we’re the most powerful and respected military in the world because we have F-22s and F-35s. Some believe it’s because of some wonderful battle group we may have,” the general said.

But, McDew said, he believes the U.S. military is the most powerful and respected force on the planet because of the strength of its logistics force.

Full-Spectrum Mobility for Three Military Services

Transcom, as its website says, provides full-spectrum global mobility and enabling capabilities for customers’ requirements in peace and war.

The command coordinates missions worldwide using military and commercial transportation, and it’s made up of three service component commands: the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

The Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, part of the former U.S. Joint Forces Command, is now part of Transcom.

“When is the last time we didn’t own every line of communication in a conflict? When is the last time we didn’t have air superiority?” McDew asked, noting the evolving nature of wars and adversaries.

“All of that has serious implications for the logistics enterprise,” he said. “I don’t care how powerful your military is. If you can’t get there, there’s a lot less power behind it.”

Budget Cuts Hit Logistics First

Under the financial constraints known as sequestration, a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, each service took risk, McDew said, “and each service took risk in the same place — logistics, enablers.”

As the kinetic force is built, he added, the foundation of that force also must be built.

“That’s what I try to remind people,” the general said. “After 15-plus years of a war that I’m not sure will ever subside, and lean budgets, [we] need to update equipment and prepare for the next war.”

McDew said he’s concerned about the ability to move military forces into the future.

“We need true innovation and not just technology,” he said. “It’s innovative thought — thinking and acting differently — and [determining] how to get there faster.”

Rethinking the Plan for the Future

To address such complex changes the general is looking to future military leaders.

“We might have the next [Army Gen. George C.] Marshall [or] the next [Navy Adm. Chester W.] Nimitz in this room. Actually, I believe we must have those people in this room,” McDew said. “If we don’t what does that say about our future?”

Marshall was America’s foremost soldier during World War II. He served as chief of staff from 1939 to 1945, building and directing the largest army in history. And Nimitz was a fleet admiral and a five-star submariner who played a major role in World War II, including signing for the U.S. when Japan surrendered.

“We need to come together and rethink the plan for the future,” McDew told the audience, “so I’d like to challenge you to think differently, to act differently … [and] lead differently in this environment.”

Source: US Department of Defense

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