The current paper explores the role of supply system technicians during large-scale combat. Supply system technicians have an important function in large-scale combat operations, and their actions contribute to the success of missions. The article postulates that supply system technicians must efficiently operate in three different areas: storage management, maintenance, and retrograde and disposal of material. The paper states that supply system technicians have a significant role in ensuring that the storage they are assigned to is maintained appropriately and has protection from weather and theft. Moreover, the article examines SSTs’ role in the delivery, issuance, and inspection of different items and materiel requested by the military personnel. Finally, the paper suggests that SSTs also be responsible for the tasks such as disposal and retrograde of materiel.
Logistics is a vital element of large-scale combat operations since it provides military personnel with the materiel needed to complete missions. The supply system technician (SST) ‘s role in providing logistics services is crucial. Such specialists are responsible for a continuous flow of materiel, and therefore they are, to a considerable extent, responsible for the success and efficiency of the troops. In large-scale combat operations, supply system technicians must focus on three primary areas: storage management, maintenance, and retrograde and disposal of material.
First, it is essential to note that supply system technicians work as part of the sustainment operations. Essentially, a sustainment brigade usually establishes bases within the assigned support area to deliver centralized control of operations (Sweeny, 2019). The first task of SSTs is to ensure proper storage management of the materiel, which the military personnel will need. Storage constitutes a location that is used for storing supplies; in the case of actual combat operations, it is not necessarily a warehouse. In the environment of an actual deployment, SSTs must ensure that all types of storage are secured against theft and protected from the effects of weather, moisture, and animals (Materiel management, 2020). Another important task of SSTs concerning storage management is the establishment of fast issuance and shipment of the materiel to achieve the highest degree of efficiency. The storage area must always be available for inspection, inventories, and easy maintenance, not requiring unnecessary efforts.
When receiving and shipping materiel, SSTs must carefully verify all accompanying documents, including item descriptions. SSTs must report all the discrepancies, such as shortages, wrong documentation, damaged items, and broken seals, to their superiors. SSTs must adhere to the highest level of accountability by conducting regular inventories to ensure that all the materiel on records matches the stored materiel. In the case of large-scale combat operations, inventories become particularly important due to the possible inability to forecast petroleum consumption and ammunition usage in advance (Beurskens, 2018). Thus, SSTs, by carrying out regular inventories, can identify the shortages and resolve the problem quickly. Another vital element during combat operations is the maintenance of sufficient space in facilities; therefore, SSTs should return all excess material to the supply system. Finally, SSTs also carefully store the personal effects of soldiers participating in large-scale operations by keeping them in appropriate places.
Maintenance is another essential responsibility of all supply system technicians, and it concerns retaining and restoring items to their initial condition. When operating in a theater of operations, it is important to ensure that all stored items have combat readiness. Additionally, SSTs have to store and maintain the items of all classes in a secure way that does not endanger the personnel’s health, safety, and wellness (Materiel management, 2020). Because store areas in the situation of active operations are subject to a higher risk of attack, SSTs have to be familiar with evacuation plans. Moreover, there is a need to position fire extinguishers in places that are easily accessible in the case of an emergency. Hazardous items such as battery acid must be approached by personnel wearing appropriate protective equipment, which SSTs need to supply to them. SSTs also need to lock all of the storage areas and restrict access only to authorized personnel in order to prevent theft.
When maintaining the storage area, SSTs need to make good use of the available space and maximize its capacity without compromising safety. SSTs have to conduct both scheduled and unscheduled inspections of the materiel in order to maintain a proper quality of storage. Medical materials must be maintained in refrigerators and in a location that allows them to be physically separate from items of other classes (Materiel management, 2020). Moreover, when issuing such items, SSTs must issue the oldest stock first in order to keep as many unexpired materials as possible, which is vital during large-scale operations. SSTs also need to rotate the food items to issue to the oldest ones, which, nevertheless, do not show signs of expiration. Efficiency is essential during large-scale operations; therefore, SSTs must strive to achieve it when not only maintaining the materiel but also issuing it. SSTs should issue items to units according to the pre-planned schedules and in quantity depending on units’ positions.
Water is another important element that has to be maintained by SSTs during large-scale operations. The quality o available water will depend on the existing circumstances; therefore, SSTs will need to consider the requirement for purification systems and commercial systems to support non-conventional units. Additionally, they will need to take into consideration the geospatial requirements and will have to identify water sources, including surface and groundwater, within the assigned area. SSTs will have to calculate the probable daily water production needed according to the data on region and time-phased force deployment.
Retrograde and Disposal of Materiel
Finally, SSTs must also engage in the disposal of materiel, which becomes of great significance during large-scale operations. Due to the nature of combat operations of such a scale, the troops will require a great volume of materiel, reinforcements, and equipment, much larger than during other mission types. Large-scale operations will lead to mass casualties and an increased need for the replacement of equipment and personnel (Materiel management, 2020). Retrograde of materiel refers to the returning of items from the unit back to the source of supply using the distribution system. In this case, SSTs will need to work with transportation managers in order to send the item to the supply source. Additionally, conducting the retrograde of materiel, SSTs must be able to track the movement of the items with the help of radio frequency identification technology.
Before considering disposal, it is important to check whether the item is reparable and can be fixed. SSTs need to monitor the management of reparable items and ensure that they are accounted for and processed in a timely manner. All disposal procedures must be conducted by SSTs in accordance with the existing guidance applicable to particular classes of items. After disposal, a replacement for the item can be requested, and if no similar items are readily available, SSTs will need to source the materiel from another division.
Supply system technicians play a significant role in the success of large-scale combat operations by efficiently operating in three areas, namely, storage management, maintenance, and retrograde and disposal of material. Supply system technicians have to ensure that the storage they are assigned to is held in a proper condition and protected from theft attempts and weather effects. Additionally, SSTs need to deliver efficient issuance of all the items requested by the military personnel and inspect the materiel to identify the existing problems. Finally, SSTs are also responsible for the retrograde, replacement, and disposal of items and, once again, need to be efficient when performing these tasks.
Beurskens, K. (2018). The long haul: Historical case studies of sustainment in large-scale combat operations. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Army University Press.
Materiel management, supply, and field services operations. (2020). Headquarters, Department of the Army. Web.
Sweeny, A. (2019). US army logistics in large-scale combat operations: Distribution of CL III bulk. School of Advanced Military Studies US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, KS. Web.