Facilitating Seamless Operations
From Armor & Mobility May/June 2017 Issue
United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) J4 (Director of Logistics) Headquarters, USSOCOM, MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL, handles major USSOCOM-led or -assisted logistics initiatives in support of global SOF operations.
The J4 balances service-like responsibilities of Special Operations Forces (SOF)-peculiar issues with the operational emphasis of support to SOF operations. USSOCOM SOF Acquisition, Technology & Logistics (AT&L) J4 is organized into five divisions, to align with the USSOCOM commander’s priorities. J41 works supply chain management and inventory matters. They work closely with Special Operations Support Forward Activity in Lexington, KY, to ensure global SOF are getting what they need when they need it.
The Acquisition Logistics divisions, J42, matrixes logisticians into each SOF AT&L Program Executive Office to ensure sustainment issues are addressed throughout the life-cycle of an item. These two divisions operate more on the service-like side of the SOCOM headquarters, and the remaining three are more in line with a more traditional combatant command. “J43 is our operational division, with theater logistics operations officers that are assigned a region and are proactively engaged in solving logistics challenges with our sub-unified commands,” Allen indicated.
J4 also synchronizes core logistics issues, such as property book and munitions, with Service Components and TSOCs. J45 is the Strategic Logistics division that bridges the gap between the Joint Staff, Services and SOCOM headquarters, influencing doctrine and policy.
Op Tempo Sustainment
USSOCOM SOF AT&L J4 has recently facilitated multiple significant logistics initiatives through the associated Theater Special Operations Command (TSOC) J4s assisting them with access to functional command support. “We worked closely with AFRICOM, Special Operations Command-Africa (SOCAF), and TRANSCOM to leverage their unique knowledge and contracting capability to establish an Indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for transportation serving forces deployed to Africa,” said COL Steven L. Allen, J4. “This is an area of the world where highways are few and far between and the commercial transportation available is unreliable or flies direct to Europe to make a connection back to the country of interest.” The contract includes regularly scheduled flights between key locations but also allows for the scheduling of flights for specific missions. “Additionally, we have coordinated throughout multiple geographic areas of responsibility to forward-stage SOF equipment so our forces are able to quickly react to emerging situations.”
Together with the Joint Staff (JS) J4, USSOCOM SOF AT&L J4 initiated and led the Trans-Regional Synchronization Forum-Logistics (TRSF-L) to assess logistics capability across theaters as coordinating authority. As the 2015 Joint Concept for Logistics states, “The challenge for future joint logistics is to adequately support globally integrated operations.” To do this, the JS J4 is emphasizing Globally Integrated Logistics, which allocates and adjudicates logistics support on a global scale to maximize effectiveness and responsiveness. “The TRSF-L assessments provide the JS J4 a product to assess global logistics support,” remarked Allen. “The assessments feed into USSOCOM’s TRSF and provide the JS J4 a logistics assessment for the Joint Logistics Estimate and the Chairman’s Risk Assessment. The TRSF-L assessments also provide an avenue for input to the Chairman’s readiness evaluations,” he added.
Targeted Service Support
Another area of focus for the USSOCOM SOF AT&L J4 is Service support to SOF. Most special operations require non-SOF support, so SOF is able to sustain operations for 15 days before it is necessary for service logistics to provide common user logistics and base operating support.
“We have been working hard to educate new and up and coming logistics leadership on this concept,” emphasized Allen. “In conjunction with the Center for Strategic Logistics, the Joint Logistics Course at Army Logistics University, we added in a block of instruction on SOF logistics.”
Additionally, J4 has worked closely with USSOCOM J7 to integrate SOF logistics into Geographic Combatant Command (GCC) ellipse exercises. “Engagements with service and GCC leadership have also been key components to ensuring the joint logistics enterprise works together for support to SOF operations, which ultimately enhance each GCC’s mission set,” noted Allen. “We meet monthly with the TSOCs and SOF Service components to solve global logistics challenges. In J4, we have to understand the tactical situation to influence at the operational and strategic levels, aggregating information on global SOF sustainment nodes and ensuring we are prepared to synchronize support to SOF as expeditiously as possible.”