10 Lessons Learned - The Artillery Battalion S4
10 lessons learned CbR17- The Artillery Battalion S4
1. The ALOC is a very powerful C2 node that holds a very important role in the overall Battalion command post PACE plan. Especially at Hohenfels. Minus an AFATDS, it should very closely resemble the BN TOC, track the same information, and be able to house the command team in the event the TOC and TAC become compromised. Based on MTOE, the ALOC will not have HF, MPE, or Secret capabilities, but it must have multiple mediums of communication to include accurate analog products. The Warrior OPFOR targets C2 nodes, but the CTCP is not regularly thought of as a C2 node and will not be as high on their HPTL, so its survivability is necessary to continue the fight.
2. The S4 job is 20% knowledge, 80% people skills. Serving as the S4 at a CTC rotation, you must stay humble and know that you are not the SME in the area if you are working at the CTCP. You must rely heavily on the experience of the FSC Commander and 1SG as well as the Distro PL, Maintenance PL, and the MCT/MCS/MCO. Additionally, having the Brigade S4 and SPO in your corner will make them more willing to support your requests. Being able to have these individuals on your side will greatly help the Battalion and you will learn how to properly conduct logistics. At the end of the day, the Army is a people business and understanding that will give the Artillery Battalion more options when it comes to sustaining itself.
3. The placement of personnel is key successful logistics especially when looking to utilize nonorganic resources. For CbR17, we positioned the FSC XO, the MCO, and 1 x PLS system at the FTCP which was co-located at the BSA. The XO was able to act as the liaison for the Artillery Battalion with its Support Battalion and conduct the on ground coordination that may be overlooked or ignored when not conversing face to face. At JMRC, we kept the UMCP co-located with the CTCP. The training area is very small and with an entire Armored Brigade and an OPFOR in the box, there is very minimal available terrain. This ended up being very successful for us as the S4 team was able to have face to face conversations with the recovery team and go over their plan instead of having the possibility of a bad radio transmission.
4. The ALOC is a very flexible C2 node. Personally, I believe that its primary location should be with the CTCP to enable the on the ground coordination between Battalion and the FSC. Additionally, it is the tertiary command post, so separation by space is necessary. When conditions do not allow (full communications pace plan is not available) it may be necessary to collapse back into the TOC location. No change the overall setup of the ALOC is necessary if this happens, it just provides the ability to get hands on an S6 shop member to bring back that communications capability, have the face to face interaction with the operations cell, the Fire Direction Center, and then rejoin the CTCP.
5. TIMELY AND ACCURATE REPORTING. Just like fires, reporting needs to be timely and accurate. Being the S4, it is appropriate for you to demand these reports multiple times from the Batteries without remorse. The Batteries are actually fighting the fight, so it is very likely that sending a report is not on the top of their priority list. This is also necessary for the Battalion S4 to provide their reports to Brigade and SPO. Without this information, they are unable to forecast and provide the Artillery Battalion with the classes of supply it may need. Additionally, they serve as another set of eyes that can analyze what the Artillery Battalion will need as they are the logistics SMEs for the entire Brigade.
6. Knowing the historical consumption rates of your fleet is invaluable to being able to sustain an Artillery Battalion and keep it in the fight. Just like any other piece of machinery, the equipment the Artillery Battalion utilizes will use CL III and CL IIIP at different rates than what comes from the logistics schoolhouse. While the CL III consumption estimation tool is a godsend during MDMP and can buy you some kudos with your Commander, it does not account for the maintenance of your fleet and how the individuals in your Battalion operate the vehicle.
7. Demand updates from Battalion operations cell is sometimes necessary. Communications at JMRC is one of the largest hurdles so having as much information to fight with is absolutely key to the sustainment planning process. I found myself being quite detached from the operational mission because I was not receiving the intel and maneuver plan at the CTCP, so when I was planning what CL V to request, I was almost completely in the dark. All I had to go off was the OPORD and FASP that was published before deploying into the box. Not being part of the physical footprint of the TOC provides the opportunity to be forgotten about. The physical separation between the TOC and the CTCP regularly presents this challenge, but it can be mitigated through regular touchpoints with the TOC.
8. Sometimes you have to let the Units you support get a little scared. This will teach them how truly capable their equipment is. In the ABCT, everyone is very cautious about their fuel levels. Utilizing historical consumption rates has paid dividends in planning factors for when resupply needs to be scheduled and conducted. During CbR17, there was an unplanned PAUSEX that created the opportunity for me to prove a point to the entire Battalion. While risky, it paid off and all of the Battery Commanders were able to see the real operational reach of their Battery.
9. Being an Artillery Battalion S4 is vastly different from a maneuver or support S4 when it comes to CL V. Where you are not the SME on logistics operations, you are the SME on Artillery and everything that comes with shell/fuze combination, target distance analysis, and forecasting ammunition based on the mission at hand. Sister Battalion S4s do not have this issue as they mainly deal with small arms munitions. Having a firm grasp on shell fuze combinations, what munitions your Battalion needs based on the missions that are coming up, and fully understanding the capabilities that the Batteries and the FSC have for hauling will ensure success when it comes to CL V.
10. Trust is the only way to make it through any CTC rotation with any resemblance of your sanity. Without trust as the S4, you will hold on to all tasks and responsibilities and you will inevitably miss something big that will cause major implications to sustaining operations. Trust that the FSC Commander is able to command his troops, trust that your NCOIC is doing all of the same duties that you are doing while you are on shift as well as ensuring the Soldiers are completing their tasks as RTO and manning the guns placed on security, trust the Distro Platoon Leader to choose the best and most efficient routes for LOGPACs, trust the Maintenance Platoon Leader to have the priority of maintenance and maintain their equipment to the highest of standards. Trust in everyone and the overall process is a must and will enable the Battalion S4 to focus on the next 24/48 hours for all classes of supply.