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CENTCOM helps DoD logisticians and engineers “sustain the fight, set the theater”

May 15, 2018

Logisticians and engineers throughout the Department of Defense converged at the U.S. Central Command Forward Headquarters to attend the Joint Logistics Coordination Board conference here May 6-10, 2018.

The board is held semi-annually as a means to focus attention on how to provide engineering expertise and logistical support to military operations, including Operations Inherent Resolve and Resolute Support. With 20 nations that fall within CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, identifying how best to fund, purchase, package and move massive amounts of materials to austere locations is a challenge that requires synchronized efforts from all branches of the armed services.

According to CENTCOM’s director of logistics and engineering, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Edward Dorman, the challenge is one that leaders must overcome by synchronizing efforts across the logistics enterprise.​ The JLCB serves this purpose, with this year’s discussions focused on sustaining the fight and setting the theater. 

​“Setting the theater refers to how we maintain an evolving posture,” said Dorman. “It means reviewing our footprint to ensure we have the right equipment and engineering capability; it means having agreements with our host nation partners for access to areas we need to maneuver in. Setting the theater means our posture gives us the flexibility to defeat or deter violent extremist organizations.”

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Dorman believes military engineers and logisticians continue to make progress in this area, citing support to the Security Forces Assistance Brigade as a recent example. Conceptualized in 2017 as part of the U.S. Army’s concentrated effort to train, advise and assist host nation forces, preparations to support the 1st SFAB’s short-notice deployment to Afghanistan in spring of 2018 required logistical and engineering expertise from multiple players.

“We were able to collaborate across the enterprise in such a manner that we could bring about the equipping of the SFAB,” Dorman stated. “We brought an entire package that included route clearance equipment, maintenance, and rotary wing capability into theater, and were able to assemble it into kits that were in place by the time the troops arrived to begin their mission.”

The JLCB strives to facilitate successes like these, with representatives from each of the armed services sharing insight on how best to accomplish the mission. U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Jones, director of logistics for U.S. Air Forces Central Command, briefed the joint audience about logistical needs unique to supporting air power. The JLCB, according to Jones, is perfect for sharing best practices in this regard.

“AFCENT delivers airpower by bringing people and materials into CENTCOM’s AOR through ‘air lines of communication’ at strategic places in theater,” said Jones.  “I look forward to the JLCB because we get a chance to develop relationships with other service components, discuss challenges and come up with solutions that help the mission and our host-nation partners.”

That collaboration helped AFCENT deliver weapon systems to U.S. Navy forces in the region recently and provided the U.S. Army with crash, fire and rescue capabilities in Afghanistan for the aforementioned SFAB effort. From Jones’ perspective, taking advantage of forums like the JLCB to problem solve is critical to mission accomplishment.

General Dorman agreed, stating he will continue to push the joint logistics and engineering enterprise to support national interests.

“Operations drive logistics, but logistics shape operational successes in many ways,” added Dorman. “If we’re postured correctly, then we’re instilling confidence in our partners by building partnership capacity. This is one of the tenets of the National Defense Strategy.”

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As a senior officer, Dorman has attended multiple JLCBs throughout his career. When asked to share what accomplishment he’s been most proud of as the enterprise works to sustain the fight, his response was not centered solely on logistics.

“What I’m most proud of is the people. If you take care of the people, the mission will take care of itself,” Dorman replied.  “These engineering and logistics professionals have focus, and they’re making sure we get materials in the hands of the warfighter so we can demonstrate the U.S. is a reliable ally and, when called, we will do our part.”