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Maritime Logistics Community News : November 2009
38 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER SPRING 2009 Moving the position was the outcome of an ongoing process of examining and seeking to improve our exchange appointments, and included a shortlist of options prepared in consultation with the RN. The aim being to maximise the longer term value of the exchange position for both the RAN and RN, and more broadly the United Kingdom and Australian Armed Forces. The decision to move the position away from ESCIT after nearly a decade was a tough decision. ESCIT had developed from a ‘Lean’ based tiger team in 2001 to assist in making logistics related efficiencies, to an enduring, in-house support solution capability, delivering effectiveness, efficiency and flexibility benefits to the British Armed Forces. In recent years the focus had changed away from using ‘Lean’ toward Optimised Support Planning, a methodology based on Sales & Operational Planning for use by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) Project Teams (similar to SPOs). For the best part of the past decade, the exchange post has provided exposure to the RAN of the design and implementation of logistic support solutions for the various equipment and systems of the UK Armed Forces. Over time the nature of the position, organisational focus, and broader military interaction had however gradually changed, and it was recommended that there would be greater value for the RN and RAN in relocating the position. ACDS (Log Ops) is tasked with bringing coherence and consistency to the development of logistics capabilities, by applying a comprehensive process view, to maximise operational effect. The role is very similar to that undertaken by Strategic Logistics Branch, together with an element of Strategic Military Commitments, and is resourced by DE&S. The short list for the relocation of the position also included DE&S Fleet Customer Support Team (CST), Navy Command (combined Fleet/NHQ functions), and the Joint Support Chain (JSC). The advantage of the position within ACDS (Log Ops) was that it was compatible with the RN Logistics Officer Structure, very closed aligned to the reciprocal RN position in Australia, and the organisational size provided the flexibility to further tailor the position in the future. The revised role as SO1 Defence Logistics Programme Capability is charged with responsibility for coordinating and implementing a portfolio management framework for the supporting activities of the Defence Logistics Strategy. In practice this provides significant breadth, with visibility of in excess of seventy of the most significant logistics initiatives that are occurring across the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It has certainly proved a challenge, and offers the potential to dive into areas which are of mutual benefit. The range of objectives with the Logistics Portfolio varying from the major logistics change programmes, governance challenges, major acquisition programmes, to the support of the operations in Afghanistan. Amongst the experience gained, some of the significant personal observations and highlights that I will take to Australia include: History and Size. The 400+ years of recent military history, customs, and tradition is staggering, however it does present some challenges in being able to flexibly respond to changing circumstances. There are certainly areas where the UK MOD is well ahead of Australia; but there are also many aspects where being smaller offers it own advantages in being able to implement and embed change much faster. There is also a fine balance between the ongoing need for change and transformation, with the requirement to embed previous change programmes to ensure the benefits are not lost. Current Operations. On a daily basis I am continually staggered at the commitment required to sustain over 8,000 troops in Afghanistan. The UK is clearly at war, with daily news of casualties, and the ongoing political debate on the strategic approach and the necessary equipment (including availability of helicopters). The logistics support network is very much focused on the support of current operations, including Urgent Operational Requirements (new bits of kits needed at short notice). During the recent Operation PANTHER’S CLAW centred in Helmand province, and leading up to the Afghanistan election, the UK was receiving news each day of soldiers killed in action. The number of UK troops killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 is now over 200, with more troops wounded in action in July 2009 than in the whole of 2006. It is also evident that there are growing numbers of injured servicemen, with many having lost limbs, going through the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration process. The ability of the British Armed Forces to ‘crack on and do the job’ is impressive. RN Contribution. The RN has been heavily involved in providing personnel augmentation to operations in Afghanistan, peaking at several hundred personnel during the last rotation of 3 Command Brigade in late 2008. Similar to in Australia, the positions ashore and within the Fleet are gapped. Whilst the burden has fallen heavily on medical staff, it also regularly includes catering, naval stores, and engineering personnel. RN Logistics Officers are also frequently rotating through both Joint positions, and direct support to the Royal Marines. Budget Challenges. The recent global recession appears to have impacted the UK budget much more severely than in Australia, with significant reductions in expenditure expected over the next few years to balance the books. There will be continuing pressure on Defence resources, with tough decisions likely on acquisition, personnel, and sustainment. Whilst the two new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers, future tranches of the Typhoon Fighters, and a number of other acquisition programmes have already being contracted, there still remains political debate on the best way ahead and related costs. There is also an ongoing discussion on the resources required to ‘fight the current war’ vs ‘preparing for the next war’. RN Logistics Branch Structure. The RN Supply Branch has changed An update on the CMDR SU UK exchange position Earlier this year the CMDR SU exchange position located in Bath, UK, transferred from the Equipment & Support Continuous Improvement Team (ESCIT) to the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Logistics Operations) Division. BY CMDR SHANE GLASSOCK, RAN