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1st Theater Sustainment Command

News Stories

Army sustainment seeks industry's unique, new ideas

By Jared Lieberher, AUSA | 1st Theater Sustainment | March 28, 2024


As the Army confronts an increasingly volatile operational environment, industry solutions will be critical to anticipating capabilities and shaping survivability in contested logistics, two senior logistics officers said.

During a fireside chat at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama, Maj. Gen. Eric Shirley, commander of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, and Lt. Gen. Mark Simerly, director of the Defense Logistics Agency, discussed the need to anticipate the challenges of operating forward.

Responding to an audience member seeking guidance on how industry should anticipate the Army’s needs in the coming five years, Shirley pointed to the Jan. 28 attack on Tower 22, a logistics base in Jordan near the Syrian border. The drone attack killed three Army Reserve soldiers and underscored the need to be vigilant at every echelon.

“Force protection has always been a priority, but now it’s just picked up the pace,” Shirley said.

He called on industry partners to focus on “everything that deals with counter [unmanned aerial] systems and hardening positions in the joint expeditionary environment.”

He encouraged Global Force attendees to consider testing their capabilities in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, where the 1st Theater Sustainment Command has its forward headquarters at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The region, he said, “is an ideal place to innovate and experiment with these new technologies.”

“Us being able to see what industry has to offer through forums like this allows us to reach out, partner with industries that might have something unique, and … get it into an exercise,” Shirley said.

Citing Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, who in a March 20 speech said, “production is deterrence,” Simerly added that “we know from our history that the only way America can prepare for wars is through American private industry, so our reliance on private industry is profound.”

Simerly, who has led the Defense Logistics Agency since Feb. 2, recommended that as members of industry develop and shape solutions for the future battlefield, they should promote within their organizations an embedded understanding of the meaning of combat and contested logistics.

He also pointed to interoperability as a key to developing capabilities that can fit within a joint environment. “As you design solutions, we really need solutions that can partner with other solutions and other capabilities, not ones that are exclusive, that are isolated, but ones that can be employed from open architecture,” Simerly said.