Leveraging the Force
Rapid Transformation for a Combined Support Area Command Post
Brig. Gen. Thomas R. Drew, U.S. Army
Maj. Charles G. Fyffe, U.S. Army
Download the PDF
The 2nd Infantry Division/ Republic of Korea (ROK)-U.S. Combined Division (2ID/RUCD) completed training on 4 May 2018 as part of Exercise Key Resolve 2018 (KR18). Key Resolve is an annual three-week command-post exercise conducted by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and ROK armed forces. Participants include the Eighth U.S. Army, the 2ID/RUCD, other Army and joint units, United Nations Command (UNC) sending states, and interagency organizations.
The scenario for KR18 required 2ID/RUCD to conduct detailed mission analysis to determine how to optimize mission command in the division given the distributed and dynamic nature of the mission. During mission analysis, the need for a division command post (CP) in the support area became evident—not only to coordinate combined logistics with U.S. allies but to also allow the division main command post to focus on shaping and decisive operations to maintain momentum.
During this exercise, 2ID/RUCD employed a modified post-World War II concept for sustaining a division on the move that stressed the importance of pooling resources. Consolidating capabilities and being able to distribute them back to the force on a geographic basis leverages economy of force, enhances flexibility, and reduces waste. By making these organizational and support relationship changes, sustainment forces provide the same, and in some cases better, support to the maneuver force.1 In that effort, the division established a support area command post (SACP) and executed a proof of principle to demonstrate its feasibility along with verifying the combined requirements that are inherent to 2ID/RUCD as the only combined division in the U.S. Army.
By leveraging knowledge from across the force, 2ID/RUCD was able to use recent lessons from other Army divisions and implement those evolving concepts into its own SACP development without having to endure the same encumbrances the other divisions had to overcome in order to make their improvements (see figure 1).
Leveraging Knowledge Management Resources
Prior to the exercise, 2ID/RUCD planners and leadership consulted their peers and colleagues, reviewed existing doctrine, referenced internal and external after-action reports, and utilized numerous publications including “The Pagonis Effect: A Doctrinal Future for the Support Area Command Post,” by Brig. Gen. Michael R. Fenzel and Capt. Benjamin H. Torgersen (hereafter referred to as “Pagonis Effect”), and “From Riley to Baku; How an Opportunistic Unit Broke the Crucible,” by Lt. Col. Jerem G. Swenddal and Maj. Stacy Moore (hereafter referred to as “Crucible”). The “Pagonis Effect” and the “Crucible” articles were both published by Military Review.
The “Pagonis Effect” references the many lessons learned and best practices from Lt. Gen. William “Gus” Pagonis, who was the Central Command deputy commanding general for logistics during the First Gulf War. He recognized the benefits of designating a single individual in the command chain to be responsible for all sustainment operations.2
Pagonis controlled receipt and delivery of supplies by all methods in theater and delegated significant authority to subordinate leaders to conduct area resupply of combat forces and protection of supply lines. This innovative approach ensured all sustainers across the theater could respond rapidly to exigent needs and remained flexible enough to address frontline requirements. “The application of this single command approach for all logistical resources directly contributed” to how we view the emerging requirements of the SACP of today.3
According to the article, the 1st, 3rd, and 25th Infantry Divisions and the 1st Armored Division all developed their respective SACP’s differently but were guided by these same principles. 2ID/RUCD developed its SACP with these same principles in mind while also building upon the lessons learned communicated by the other divisions. In addition, the 2ID deputy commanding general-support personally contacted the 82nd Airborne, 4th Infantry, and 3rd Infantry Divisions to discuss how they implemented SACPs during their Warfighter exercises. It became apparent during those discussions that the establishment of a SACP is essential to supporting a division on the move. However, all divisions had challenges taking the required manpower along with command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems for a SACP out of the division main CP. In all cases, the functions of the SACP were almost universal, but the challenge of manning and equipping the SACP was accomplished differently for each division.
Support Area Command Post
According to Army doctrine , the establishment of the SACP is dependent on the operational situation and can take on many different forms. In most cases, the SACP is formed by integrating select staff from the division headquarters and the maneuver enhancement brigade (MEB), as well as augmentation from the division’s organic sustainment brigade (SB). The SACP is responsible for all areas of sustainment and protection to include support to the division headquarters and brigade combat teams on the front lines as well as maintaining the support area lines of communication (LOCs). The SACP is crucial in allowing the divisions main command (DMAIN) node to focus solely on the deep fight.4 Current doctrine and Army manuals specify that a unit should resource the SACP to ensure parallel capability with the main CP and the tactical CP without degrading the capabilities of either, such that all warfighting functions should be present in the SACP.5
The SACP is an evolving concept for the Army and the 2ID/RUCD, which had only executed it twice prior to KR18. The division first employed the SACP in a minimal capacity during its November 2017 Warfighter exercise and then during Warrior Strike 10, executed in January 2018 (see SACP timeline in figure 1 and layout in figure 2).
At the field level of logistics, the SB commander is generally the lead synchronizer and senior sustainment adviser across the division and installation.6 Army doctrine recognizes that the SB is the single entry point for sustainment integration and the SB commander is the lead integrator and synchronizer of sustainment for the division within that area of support.7 “The sustainment brigade commander synchronizes combat sustainment support battalion (CSSB) operations” with other concurrent sustainment operations that support the maneuver units.8
According to logistician Col. Todd Heussner et al., the SACP is the sustainment hub “nexus where the two parallel lines of sustainment—operational and enterprise—can meet within the field-level of sustainment” for the area that it is supporting and should serve as the “single face of sustainment.”9
Proof of Principle
After the Warfighter exercise, the 2ID/RUCD commander directed the DCG-S and the 2ID SB commander to synchronize support area efforts. In order to meet the commander’s intent, the DCG-S directed his staff to develop a plan to expand the SACP capabilities and attain the capacity for it to serve as the primary mission-command node, if required. The DCG-S communicated to his staff the need to develop this capability and continue to improve with each iteration of training in order to maximize its ability to support the warfighter.
The combined division G4 was overall responsible for the SACP and assigned his forward deputy and his sergeant major to lead the planning effort along with a primary ROK planner from the combine C4. The staff referenced after-action reports, reviewed existing doctrine, and researched best practices from the Center for Army Lessons Learned and Military Review’s “Pagonis Effect” and “Crucible” articles. Due to its unique mission set, the 2ID/RUCD SACP was designed to incorporate both U.S. and ROK army staff elements, along with other joint service members, which led to the establishment of a combined SACP in order to plan, command, and control combined sustainment operations.
The initial plan was to establish the SACP near the 2ID SB tactical operations center (TOC) in order to decrease communication issues and reduce the amount of confusion that occurred in previous exercises. However, upon evaluation from recent lessons learned, the planners determined that the most efficient way to accomplish this goal was to collocate the SACP with the 2ID SB TOC, resulting in the division support area (DSA) fusion cell concept (see figure 3).
This decision was supported by a key concept from the “Pagonis Effect” article that was incorporated into the planning that recommended collocating the DCG-S and SB commander into one location with the MEB commander operating in the same area.10 As the article suggests, this was “important to achieve synchronization of activities in the support area and to facilitate immediate coordination and deconfliction during a quickly developing engagement.”11
The decision to collocate achieved the synchronization desired, as it streamlined communications between the division and brigade support area staff and reduced overall response time. The combined division G4 noted that the layout streamlined multiple processes and eased the burden on communications platforms. The 2ID SB TOC was directly adjacent to the SACP, which enabled direct coordination between those entities. Conflicting reports and other requests for information could be quickly resolved without degrading the sustainment support to the warfighter. The DCG-S was at the center of all support area operations, and all efforts were coordinated through him to either “reinforce or complement DMAIN efforts.”12
The close proximity of the ROK and U.S. support area staff was instrumental in achieving synchronization and unity of effort during the exercise. The SACP was able to facilitate sustainment efforts across multiple domains while also coordinating directly with ROK military to synchronize area distribution activities that supported both U.S. and ROK forces. This also accomplished the SB commander’s goal for the proof of principle to leverage existing sustainment resources across the multi-domain battlefield, which was critical to successfully prove the concept.
Additional source material also supported this decision, as it is suggested that an SB command post and an MEB command post are appropriate to have set up and functioning in the DSA.13 As with most other divisions, 2ID/RUCD was unable to execute directly with its aligned MEB. However, it was able to incorporate the MEB into the operation notionally with the MEB’s response cells.
Overall, the exercise proved successful. The division accomplished its training goals and set the conditions to improve mission-command node posturing for the future. It is now in the process of implementing necessary improvements determined during the proof of principle.
The proof of principle needed to evaluate the current processes and procedures in order to identify operational gaps, duplication of efforts, and inefficiencies, along with determining mission command feasibility. This was successful and proved the concept for 2ID/RUCD. However, the 2ID commander envisioned that his SACP could not serve as a primary division mission-command node, augmented by its assigned MEB during operations. During the KR18 iteration, the division identified key areas that it needed to address in order to meet his intent.
A key discussion in the “Pagonis Effect” article was in regard to the controlling SACP versus the coordinating SACP concept. According to the article, the controlling option would have all the critical elements associated with either a DMAIN or division tactical CP in the SACP: “Those critical resources would include mission-command systems that allow the SACP to clear airspace, monitor airflow, and provide counterbattery fire. The systems required to carry out such actions include the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, the Air and Missile Defense Workstation, and the Tactical Airspace Integration System, along with operators with the expertise required to integrate the feedback into a clear common operating picture (see figure 4).”14
This concept was brilliantly identified by the authors of the “Pagonis Effect” article. However, 2ID, much like the 1st Armored Division, chose to employ their SACP during KR18 as a coordinating command post tied to the SB with notional augmentation from the MEB for protection and maneuver support.
However, the division staff needed to address the controlling and coordinating manning gaps to provide the commander with options for future implementation and decided to accomplish this by augmenting the SACP with personnel and equipment from the DMAIN and 2ID SB. Additionally, it determined that manning would be based on mission parameters, and plans would be developed for each mission set with options for both a controlling and a coordinating SACP.
In agreement with the authors of the “Pagonis Effect,” the staff decided that some concepts would remain constant. The 2ID/RUCD DCG-S would always provide the command authority of the node and direct operations to ensure they are nested with the commanding general’s intent. The division combined G4 would continue to serve as deputy of the command node until the arrival of the MEB, after which he or she would provide operational oversight in direct coordination with the 2ID SB commander. The SB commander would continue to serve as chief of sustainment and the MEB commander would serve as chief of protection. Also, the staff determined that it needed a SACP officer in charge (OIC) to serve as the overall node manager. This would be a major responsible for communication and synchronization with other command nodes, operations and battle tracking, equipment and its setup, and combined and joint staff training for the SACP. The additional staff augmentation and the OIC concept are pictured in figure 4.
2ID/RUCD, like 3ID, “recognized the importance of integrating the MEB into the fabric of their support area infrastructure.”15 For future iterations, the division will expand the role of the MEB and ROK army personnel for future planning and training exercises so that key staff members from all three organizations are working and training together under one roof. The early and continuous investment of cross talk among these organizations is key to successful implementation in the future.
Differing capabilities, requirements, mission sets, and cultures across branches and nations have created noncompatible equipment, communication, and requisition platforms along with differing processes in requisition and equipment support. This was apparent within 2ID/RUCD’s SACP as well.
However, combined sustainment planning and execution with the ROK military were notionally achieved by utilizing multimodal sustainment support across multiple domains for the first time. However, deficiencies were identified that need to be resolved in order to optimize current U.S. and ROK LOCs. According to the deputy combined C4 in 2ID/RUCD, the ROK army is currently striving to field a C4I system able to receive multinational inputs to cope with the lack of interoperability between our existing C4I systems. This would greatly enhance ROK and U.S. communications and allow the combined staff to fully manage all sustainment commodities required to support the multinational warriors on the battlefield.
Achieving Synergy with Multi-Domain Sustainment
On today’s multi-domain battlefield, it is essential to leverage the resources available in every domain and distribute those resources via multiple modes of transportation as efficiently as possible in order to maximize sustainment support to the warfighters so they can focus on the fight. Emerging doctrine suggests that a DSA mission command post is appropriate for this purpose because organizing assets, resources, and command priorities demand a node capable of enforcing decisions already made by the commanding general and directing actions that are consistent with his or her intent.16
The SACP is an emergent concept that was born out of necessity. If utilized properly, the SACP can be a fusion cell where combined forces can leverage joint and combined sustainment resources in multiple domains; ground, air, sea, and even cyber.
If properly outfitted, the SACP can be tailored to serve as this fusion cell that can communicate, coordinate, and synchronize with joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational, and host-nations to maximize sustainment to the warfighter (see figure 5). The SACP is required in operations that require joint or combined forces that utilize multiple nodes of sustainment.
Warfighters in all branches require the same basic necessities—food, water, fuel, and ammunition—and units in each domain have separate but concurrent sustainment operations specific to their branch or organization with mission command spread across multiple command levels. The ability to coordinate and utilize resources across these boundaries gives the commander at each level more options to support the warfighter.
Effective logistical support in a multi-domain environment requires an in-depth understanding of combined and joint processes and procedures. Leveraging these multi-domain resources requires deliberate planning and additional lead time to execute. Sustainers operating in the multi-domain environment must anticipate support requirements across all domains. This requires deliberate combined joint planning and analysis to adequately estimate the requirements and replenishment cycles of supported forces dispersed across a large support area. Commanders at an operational level must synchronize their assets and efforts in all domains in order to maximize warfighter support.
2ID/RUCD was able to conduct combined convoys and resupply missions, but the requisitions were still processed within the respective services of each country, so the ability to estimate and anticipate those requirements became the combining link between nations. By the end of the exercise, 2ID/RUCD could estimate replenishment cycles and area support requirements of both nations.
During KR18, 2ID/RUCD also developed and validated processes to leverage both U.S. and ROK logistical capabilities. This was accomplished by allowing the 2ID SB to operate independently from the SACP while also maintaining the balance between the division and SB functionalities. This responsive relationship set conditions that allowed both organizations to cultivate ROK-U.S. relationships at their respective levels, setting the conditions for the future DSA fusion cell concept pictured in figure 5.
As key stakeholders, the 2ID SB commander and combined division G4 agreed that early and continuous communication between the brigade and division staffs was a key component in the progression of the division’s SACP from the original concept to where it stands today.
SACP Emerging Concept
The SACP and Army MEBs are still relatively new concepts, although the principles on which they are based are not. They will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the organizations that they support. The mission command concept allows for each organization to develop these support centers to meet the needs of a particular mission or organization.
This requires expert knowledge management from those organizations to capture the lessons learned from each iteration of training and also skillful planners to develop and refine those lessons-learned concepts for future implementation.
Each division has developed a SACP concept according to their own mission sets and strengths. This is also the case for the 2ID/RUCD, which continues to adapt and change along with its ROK army partners. To ensure that these concepts are maintained even during times of high turn-over in the division, 2ID/RUCD created a SACP SOP and standardized battle drills that are now maintained within its knowledge management section.
KR18 was the third iteration of training for the 2ID/RUCD SACP, and it was considered successful as the division accomplished its training goals and set conditions to improve its mission posturing. The proof of principle demonstrated the ability of the division staff and the 2ID SB to synchronize planning efforts and its ability to formulate and implement improvements rapidly.
Additionally, 2ID/RUCD is drafting a proposal for a table top exercise and proof of principle to focus on coordination and execution with the ROK army to better train the combined concepts. During KR18, we were able to notionally leverage existing ROK logistical LOCs across multiple domains. These must be leveraged for future training and contingency operations in order to maximize sustainment capabilities.
The Army’s ability to develop evolving concepts and disseminate to the force through various channels rapidly represents a paradigm shift in organizational development for the Army. This proved invaluable to the 2ID/RUCD staff and planners as they used recent lessons from other Army divisions and implemented these evolving concepts into their SACP development without having to endure the same encumbrances the other divisions had to overcome in order to make improvements. The ability to use these valuable lessons learned during concurrent operations is key to initiating rapid improvements to an organization. This saves time and resources that can be used to build upon those lessons learned from other units and implement improvements at an exponential rate. As a prime example, 2ID/RUCD was able to transform its SACP from a concept on paper to a fully capable command node in less than six months. If this trend continues, the Army will reach an inflection point in organizational development within the next decade, if not sooner.
- Robert Hatcher, Jeffrey A. Martin, and Karl F. Davie Burgdorf, “Sustainment for the Army of 2020,” Army Sustainment 46, no. 3 (May-June 2014): 26–31, accessed 2 November 2018, http://www.alu.army.mil/alog/2014/mayjun14/PDF/mayjun2014.pdf.
- Michael R. Fenzel and Benjamin H. Torgersen, “The Pagonis Effect: A Doctrinal Future for the Support Area Command Post,” Military Review 98, no. 1 (January-February 2018): 48–57, accessed 2 November 2018, https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/January-February-2018/The-Pagonis-Effect-A-Doctrinal-Future-for-the-Support-Area-Command-Post/.
- Jerem G. Swenddal and Stacy Moore, “From Riley to Baku: How an Opportunistic Unit Broke the Crucible,” Military Review 97, no. 1 (January-February 2017): 73–84, accessed 2 November 2018, https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/January-February-2017/ART-012/.
- Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), Mission Command in the Division and Corps Support Area: Lessons and Best Practices (Fort Leavenworth, KS: CALL, December 2017), accessed 2 November 2018, https://usacac.army.mil/sites/default/files/publications/18-04.pdf.
- CALL, Mission Command in the Division and Corps Support Area.
- Todd A. Heussner, Geoffrey C. De Tingo, and Craig M. Short, “Synchronizing Field and Sustainment Support: Roles and Responsibilities After 10 Years of War,” Army Sustainment 44, no. 4 (July-August 2012), accessed 2 November 2018, http://www.alu.army.mil/alog/issues/JulAug12/Synchronizing_Field_Sustainment.html.
- Fenzel and Torgersen, “The Pagonis Effect.”
- Ibid., 56.
- Ibid., 54.
- Charles A. Williams and Joe Crider, “The Maneuver Enhancement Brigade,” Bulletin of the Military Police Corps (Fall 2009): 8–12, accessed 2 November 2018, https://www.dvidshub.net/publication/issues/12476.
- Fenzel and Torgersen, “The Pagonis Effect,” 56–57.
- Ibid., 52.
- Field Manual 3-0, Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Publishing Office, 6 October 2017), 2-37; Fenzel and Torgersen, “The Pagonis Effect,” 56.
Brig. Gen. Thomas R. Drew, U.S. Army, is the deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Special Operations Command. His previous assignment was as the deputy commanding general (support) for the 2nd Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea.
Maj. Charles G. Fyffe, U.S. Army, is the chief of operations for U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, Korea. He most recently served as a logistics planner and deputy chief of transformation for the 2nd Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea.
Back to Top