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Sustainment is the key to U.S. Army readiness

593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command

Published: 01:38PM February 15th, 2018

U.S. Army Photo

Spc. Destinee Banda, bottom, culinary specialist, qualifies on the 240B machine gun at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Sept. 1. Banda and other Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, focused training on “America’s Big Six.”

Readiness remains the Army’s number one priority. As Gen. Mark Milley, Army chief of staff, said in remarks at the Association of the United States Army Conference in 2015, “Readiness for combat is our Number 1 priority, and there is no other Number 1.”

The mission of I Corps stated simply is to “Deploy, fight and win in any environment.” At the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, we’ve embraced a bit of our namesake into our mission statement. Our job is to deploy, fight, sustain and win in any environment.

Sustainment is the backbone to readiness. Without deployable Soldiers and properly functioning equipment, units simply cannot train, let alone deploy, fight and win.

The Soldier’s Creed lays it out for us — “I will always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.” Individual Soldier responsibility is the foundation of sustainment.

Self goes beyond physical readiness training and dental, hearing and vision screenings. It also entails a Soldier’s family — spouses and children, parents and grandparents. When Soldiers neglect important personal aspects of readiness, like medical and financial preparedness, they slow the process of deployment.

Readiness starts with people — Soldiers and family members. Units must focus on personnel readiness and deployability. Accurate and detailed Unit Status Reporting for personnel and equipment is a critical tool for gauging and addressing unit readiness concerns. In the past, some leaders saw Unit Status Reporting as a monthly data call. Leaders must shift their thinking to consider readiness as an everyday benchmark.

Units must focus on maintenance programs, baseline equipment maintenance standards and minimize reliance on contractors. In the same way that a neglected personnel item can delay the process of deployment, a neglected vehicle repair can backlog the service bay and slow movement to the railhead.

It’s essential that leaders create time now for the critical moments tomorrow. Soldiers must understand the urgency of our profession and why adherence to standards is the only sure way to readiness.

One way to build more time for deployment is to divest excess equipment and enhance capacity and reliability of on-hand equipment. Units should evaluate their property books against their Mission Essential Task-Lists and consider turning in anything not on the Modified Table of Organization and Equipment.

With deployable Soldiers and operational equipment, leaders can devote more time and energy on training. Objective training standards must be adopted to increase overall readiness and improve the accuracy of readiness reporting. Additionally, commanders at all levels must maximize training opportunities and efficiency to preserve fiscal resources. Mandatory training requirements must be reduced to allow units to focus on Combined Arms Maneuver and Decisive Action training.

This doesn’t apply just to maneuver units. In the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, we focus on America’s Big Six — physical readiness training, marksmanship, warrior tasks and battle drills, medical training, sustainment, and the six categories of Mission Command and Communication.

Focused attention to these six categories enables us to increase our readiness in personnel, equipment and training. Even as a sustainment headquarters responsible for medical and logistical support units, we are dedicated to the business end of our Army profession — warfighting.

In the past few weeks, our units have executed training and exercised deployment procedures. Our headquarters company conducted an 8-mile ruck march in conjunction with a week of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear individual and collective training.

As the 13th Combat Service Support Battalion continues to support 7th Infantry Division’s Bayonet Focus exercise, the battalion deployed the 24th Quartermaster Company’s Supply Support Activity to the field for the first time in unit history. Meanwhile, the battalion’s 513th Transportation Company conducted a Base Defense Live-Fire exercise.

The 62nd Medical Brigade conducted CBRN training, a multifunctional medical battalion field training exercise, and participated in U.S. Northern Command’s Sudden Response exercise.

All across Joint Base Lewis-McChord, sustainment units are invested in America’s Big Six and laser-focused on readiness. From battalion field support companies, brigade support battalions, to the 593rd ESC, sustainment units must be out front in the pursuit of readiness. Our supported units cannot wait for us, so we must be ready.