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Supplying Forward Operating Bases

Positioning critical supplies as far forward as possible is the best way to resupply distant forward operating bases. One company led an effort to build up the capability
to store supplies and distribute them to distant bases in Afghanistan.

Every logistician tries to answer this one basic question: How do I quickly and consistently provide more supplies to the Soldiers who are operating farthest from the supply hubs? The simple solution is to store larger quantities of all classes of supply at a forward operating base (FOB) that is closer to the maneuver units.

In Operation Enduring Freedom, Jalalabad Airfield (JAF) in Afghanistan is being built up so that supplies can be positioned forward of the main supply hub, Bagram Airfield (BAF). Three key projects will allow JAF to function as a forward supply hub. The first critical task, building a new supply support activity (SSA), has already been completed; the SSA opened at JAF in June 2007. The second project is the creation of an ammunition supply point (ASP), and the final task is building the combat logistics patrol capability at JAF. Each of these key projects is spearheaded by Alpha Company, the distribution company of the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3d Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

The completion of the SSA at JAF makes this base one step closer to being a functional supply hub. The JAF SSA stores classes I (subsistence), IV (construction and barrier materials), and IX (repair parts), and it also receives and issues classes II (clothing and individual equipment) and IV. This warehouse is resupplied primarily by host nation “jingle” trucks that bring parts from BAF. The storage of classes I, IV, and IX at JAF decreases customer wait time for parts and increases customer satisfaction. For example, if a transmission is needed at a firebase located 50 miles north of JAF, it can be shipped directly from the JAF SSA instead of from the BAF SSA, which would be 200 miles away.

A new ASP is the next critical project that must be completed in order to transform JAF into a main supply hub. As of June 2007, a new construction project was underway to improve the ammunition holding area at JAF because it does not have enough storage capacity or meet the safety standards to be qualified as an ASP. After construction is complete, JAF will be able to store enough ammunition to resupply an entire brigade with a basic load of ammunition. JAF has an airstrip that can accommodate a C–130 aircraft and will be used to resupply the ASP. When units located near JAF need a class V (ammunition) delivery, they will be able to pull ammunition quickly from JAF. If a small FOB 50 miles north of JAF becomes critically short on 155-millimeter projectiles, for example, it will be much easier to resupply the FOB by combat logistics patrol or rotary-wing movement from JAF instead of from BAF.

Building the combat logistics patrol capability at JAF is the final task necessary to transform JAF into a fully functional supply hub. With an ASP and an SSA at JAF, classes I, II, IV, V, VII (major end items), and IX will be available in large quantities at a moment’s notice. Positioning a combat logistics patrol capability at JAF will allow FOBs that are far forward to be resupplied quickly. Using Alpha Company to conduct combat logistics patrols for this mission will allow the forward support companies to be available to move supplies to even more remote firebases. Overall, placing a combat logistics patrol capability at JAF to move supplies from the SSA and ASP will provide better support to the brigade that is maneuvering in that area of operations.

The fastest, most consistent way to resupply distant FOBs is simple: Position critical classes of supply as far forward as possible. In Afghanistan, JAF must be developed into a key supply hub. The result of building JAF into a supply hub is better customer support, and that is the goal of Army logisticians.

Captain Kristie Richardson is the distribution company commander of the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3d Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. Captain Richardson deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom VII, where she earned the Army Bronze Star. She received a B.S. degree from the U.S. Military Academy with a major in American politics and a field of study in systems engineering. She is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic Course.