A senior Defense Department official Dec. 3 underscored the importance of contractors, industry partnerships and allies at a time of fewer federal dollars and amid a transition to a post-war era.
Gary J. Motsek, deputy assistant secretary of defense for program support, told the Defense Logistics 2012 conference that the post-Iraq and Afghanistan transition is leading the U.S. military to streamline efficiencies across the services and focus on performance-based logistics improvements to meet unique, modern-day challenges.
“We have helped our combatant commanders … make efficient use of our department’s contributions, … but we have to preserve our U.S. military forces for the highest-priority mission,” Motsek said.
Government, military and defense contractors are attending the conference, which is being sponsored by defense-related industries. At today’s session, Motsek cited the emergence of contractor solutions to logistics issues.
“Twenty-five years ago, if one of our combatant commanders required surgical capability downrange, … we could send them a combat support hospital,” he said, explaining that the Defense Department now enables commanders to subdivide and specify components of a hospital or a unit they need deployed.
“In Iraq today, there are no U.S. military hospitals, [and] there are no U.S. military hospital teams,” he said, noting contractor support of what U.S. military still remain there, attached to the embassy.
Motsek also explained the significant role of international partners in seeking more efficient ways to build sustainment and deliver support and services downrange.
“Our partners look to us for that strategic movement, by and large. … No one can do the sustainment of our forces better, and we’ve proven that over and over again,” Motsek said. “We’re examining commonalities of efficiencies and effectiveness to support and gain budget savings. We’re developing Web-based programs where we and our allies can put up on a screen the holes that we see in our logistics [and support] packages that may need filling and see how other nations can contribute.”
NATO has made a seminal change by combining several agencies and developing a derivative of materiel commands and the defense logistics agency, Motsek noted, enabling the alliance to contract and send support staff to the field.
“More and more contracting support will be required in the future,” he said. “There is value to consolidating contracts. I believe you’re going to see more and more contracts that reduce redundancy and excess supply services.”
Of the major lessons learned from the Iraq transition, flexibility is perhaps the most vital, Motsek said.
“We have to plan our contracting support and logistics base to support no wars or tens of thousands of troops,” Mostek said, citing the need to optimize the contracts as missions dictate. “Everything is going to have to be synchronized far better than we have in the past,” he said. “We don’t have the luxury of analyzing, building some doctrine, testing the doctrine and executing in the field.”
Mostek touted the Better Buying Power initiative, designed by former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter. The program was introduced in September 2010 to deliver the capabilities needed for the money available by getting better buying power for warfighters and taxpayers. The 23-point strategy was designed to restore affordability in defense procurement and to improve defense industry productivity.
“Better Buying Power 2.0 establishes a paradigm where we can talk again,” Motsek said. “We have had walls established between the contract community and the acquisition, logistics and sustainment … community that are extraordinarily high and extraordinarily thick.”
Mostek said contracted players, playing themselves in joint exercises —as opposed to military members acting as surrogates — will be among the markers of success.
“We’re in a transition today in Afghanistan, and we’ll build … a support structure as necessary … with partners,” Mostek said. “My job is to synchronize what the U.S. is doing with NATO [and] other allies.”
He also noted the need to understand the costs of efficient logistics and avoid the knee-jerk reaction to simply increase funding. “Throwing money against the problem is not the solution any more,” Motsek said. “We have to be far more sophisticated.”