Setting the Theater: Lessons Learned from Recent Operations

  • Colonel Michael B. Lalor

Often the largest force in a joint area of operations, the Army owns the majority of the tasks and responsibilities required to set the theater. With finite resources and the preponderance of its sustainment units in the Reserve Component, the Army’s recent operational experiences in Afghanistan (2001-2002), Haiti (2010), and Liberia (2014) offer recurring and actionable lessons for planners, staffs, and commanders. The Army is often challenged to set the theater due to an inadequate logistics command and control structure, an inability to rapidly build logistics capacity to meet sustainment requirements, and incomplete planning and resourcing that routinely results in capability gaps during the opening phases of operations. The Army should improve the employment of its logistics force structure through a combination of different initiatives sponsored across the Army and the joint force. These initiatives will improve logistics command and control, provide more responsive support during contingency operations, and mitigate recurring capability gaps.