WASHINGTON – As the Army modernizes its equipment and processes for future conflicts, so must the service modernize its installations.
The Army’s shift from counterinsurgency to multi-domain operations has pushed the importance of Army installations to the forefront. In the multi-domain concept, installations are part of the Strategic Support Area, where military might is generated, projected and sustained during the fight.
“Our enemies have been watching us in the fight for many years and they know if they go toe-to-toe with the greatest Army the world has ever seen, they are not going to win. To prevent that, their strategy could potentially be to not let our forces leave the U.S. and stop us from entering the fight,” Army Materiel Command’s Commander Gen. Gus Perna said at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting and exposition Oct. 15.
As the Army senior leader responsible for ensuring readiness of the Strategic Support Area, Perna echoed Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville’s guidance that the Army must transition from an Industrial Age Army into the Information Age.
“The Strategic Support Area needs to be ready to execute,” Perna said. “We need to modernize, not only our equipment, but the way we do business, the way we run our installations, and constantly reform ourselves.”
Perna, along with Alex Beehler, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, set the stage at the Contemporary Military Forum titled, “Synchronizing Installation Readiness and Sustainment from the Strategic Support Area to the Tactical Point of Need.”
“The fact that we are here discussing this topic is extremely significant; it shows that installations have become a vital component in how we conduct and prepare for war,” Beehler said. “Winning is our top priority, and installations are the launching point to make sure that happens.”
From on-post housing and training ranges to the airfields, railheads and motor pools used to move equipment and troops, installation readiness is focused on the facilities and infrastructure that keep the Army trained, ready and deployable.
Panel lead Lt. Gen. Ed Daly, AMC deputy commander, said the Army is looking at installations holistically to ensure they are ready to meet the needs of Soldiers, civilians and family members, not just today but in the future.
“We are implementing a comprehensive facilities investment strategy to get our installations properly modernized, to support not only Soldiers and families, but the units that they operate in so we can project forces to the tactical point of need,” Daly said.
During the discussion, Jordan Gillis, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for IE&E, said to be successful, an Army installation needs to be four things: resilient, efficient, effective and affordable.
Resilient: installations cannot be totally reliant on off-site energy or off-site water. In a power or water outage, an installation must be able to carry out its critical missions.
Efficient: installations must look at ways to capture data that will enable smart decisions for everything, including energy usage, traffic flow, childcare requirements and peak gate hours.
Effective: installations should strive to be a well-oiled machine, not just in terms of a power projection platform, but in anticipating the needs of Soldiers and families.
Affordable: installations must prioritize, modernize and be wary of solutions that come with high sustainment costs.
“To achieve these, we need the best ideas. We need the best collaboration from private industry, our communities adjacent to the installations, and from our Soldiers for Life,” Gillis said about building installation readiness. “We need everyone’s help to build those installations of the future, and we need to make sure that installations are in step with the rest of the Army as we all modernize for the future.”
A common theme across the discussion was ensuring readiness is a balance between tactical, looking at a unit’s readiness and deployability; and strategic, ensuring the force as a whole is deployable, which includes capability of the power projection platforms.
Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, deputy chief of staff, Army logistics (G-4), said the Army needs to ensure the service doesn’t achieve tactical readiness at the expense of strategic readiness, and to do that will require prioritization.
“It takes ruthless prioritization and high moral character,” Gamble said about having to deny requests for support. “In every case we said no to someone, it was to free up resources for installation logistics, focused on power projection. That is our Army’s strategic readiness. Installations are our center of gravity to project our force forward and we need to prioritize their needs.”