NOVEMBER 16, 2017 – Recent events related to military operations being conducted around the globe have brought focus to the diverse nature of missions that U.S. servicemen and women are being asked to conduct. Service to our country brings inherent risks to the individuals who volunteer to do the nation’s bidding – much work has been done to insure the safety of our troops over the years, but there is more that can be done.
A common phrase used by those in the profession of arms is “amateurs talk operations, professionals talk logistics.” This statement resonates with those who have served in harm’s way as logistics, when not properly planned for, can be the Achilles heel of military operations. 58 percent of combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan were associated with providing logistical support, and 80 percent of those were related to the transport of supplies such as fuel and water needed on the battlefield.
Our Military leadership strives to reduce the “Tail” in order to increase the “Tooth”. Technologies and innovations that can reduce the logistical “tail” should be constantly evaluated and incorporated into military operations when the analytics and costs support such an investment. By reducing the number of vehicles and personnel on the road, even by small percentages, can help reduce the numbers and statistics cited above and increase the battle effectiveness of the troops.
One such solution involves the use of more reusable rigid energy efficient structures that can be used for billeting, operation centers, battalion aide stations or other required infrastructure. Some organizations and installations have begun using efficient and lightweight insulated composite living structures that allow the military to reduce logistics used to keep them up and running. The structures provide integration with improved technology such as less dependency on power and fuel because of its’ lightweight and insulated design, as well as reduced water consumption due to water treatment systems available with the structures. However – these are not the only reasons that these structures are essential for military use.
The infrastructure requirements to establish a forward operating base, or deployed transportation hub are dangerous, time consuming and extensive, often requiring heavy equipment for terrain preparation and the movement of containers that carry the logistic sets needed. Integrating lightweight, energy efficient structures twinned with hybrid power into the environment reduces the lift requirements and the valuable resources needed to transport the equipment, fuel or water. The fact that construction of such structures can be done with 2-man lift, further reduces the logistical burden.
Improving our logistics operations to meet requirements requires a holistic approach and the military is making positive gains implementing solutions that reduce the logistics “tail” but there is more that can be done. The adoption of integrated smart structures as described above help revolutionize our logistics approach, thereby reducing transportation requirements.
Mike Sweeney is a recently retired Col, from the U.S. Marine Corps. During his career he served in a number of command and staff positions. During his last deployment to Afghanistan one of his responsibilities was the security posture for the largest U.S. operating base in Helmand, Province Afghanistan that housed over 19,000 residents. In his spare time, Mike works with World Housing Solution to help create portable housing solutions for the military.