A Revolution of Military Logistics

The modern incarnation of Army War Reserves (AWR) traces its history to the former Army War Reserve Support Command (AWRSPTCMD). More than just a jumbling of letters in an acronym, the AWRSPTCMD is the forerunner to one of the current core missions of the modern Army Sustainment Command (ASC). AWRSPTCMD was established as a subordinate one-star command of Industrial Operations Command (IOC) and was designed to ensure that the Army was capable of rapidly projecting power in the 21st Century. Global prepositioning of AWR materiel was key in the Revolution of Military Logistics (RML) as it was defined.

Built upon the lessons learned from the Gulf War, the RML concept was largely the brainchild of MG Joseph Arbuckle. Arbuckle had furthered the Revolution of Military Affairs (RMA) proposed by GEN Eric Shinseki. The principles of the RML consisted of leveraging the national technology base, rapidly project force, and sustaining a deployed force efficiently. These concepts replaced the old Army logistics method of amassing large quantities of materiel with little-to-no readily available support or coordination.

Under the RML, the logistics system became more streamlined, and distribution based. The exploitation of modern technology also aligned the Army with commercial standards and made materiel more centrally based. The manager for these strategically located central stock locations was the AWRSPTCMD. The same AWRs eventually evolved to become the Army Prepositioned Stock (APS) sites as the streamlining process continued to evolve.

There was more to the RML and AWRSPTCMD than the AWR stocks, however. The command also assumed responsibilities for over seven brigade sets of equipment in addition to the fleet of afloat stocks. The brigade level sets evolve from Combat Equipment Groups (CEGs) to Army Field Support Brigades (AFSBs) later. Underneath these CEGs were Combat Equipment Battalions (CEBs) that further managed and distributed stocks to theater units. By the late 1990s, these elements were widely deployed in Europe, Southwest Asia, and Far East Asia.

Amid Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina, AWRSPTCMD was tasked with issuing materiel to units supporting peacekeeping operations. This allowed additional modifications and input to be provided to the organization for better streamlining. AWRSPTCMD issued over 6,000 pieces of equipment during JOINT ENDEAVOR, and an addition 2,680 pieces in follow-on operations.

COL Wade H. McManus, Jr. commanded the AWRSPTCMD from 25 NOV 1996 until he handed command to COL (P) Jeannette K. Edmunds on 24 AUG 1998. McManus would return as the Operations Support Command (OSC) commander in 2000 and serve throughout the initial phases of the Global War on Terror (GWOT). He had gone from leading AWRSPTCMD through its initial transformative process to witnessing the fruits of his efforts unfold during GWOT.

As the war on the ground changed, so did the military logistics train. Emphasis on better sustaining the force came with improvements in technology and, by 2003, the focus of efforts was placed on the “single-face-to-the-field” for Army logistics. The establishment of Army Field Support Command (AFSC) to supersede the Field Support Command (FSC) (which had taken over in place of AWRSPTCMD), highlighted the importance of this mission with a two-star billet.

Within the history of RML and the AWRSPTCMD, ASC finds its origins. While one can trace lineage back to 1955 or even earlier, the core mission and concept of what makes ASC the command it is today is sourced in the 1996 activation of AWRSPTCMD and Arbuckle’s RML.

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