Three-sided equipping strategy may mean savings for Army

Wednesday - 12/28/2011, 12:07pm EST

Christopher Pernin, Rand Corporation's Arroyo Center

Download mp3

By Michael O'Connell
@moconnellWFED
Web Editor
Federal News Radio

Soon, the Army will be home from its foreign wars, bringing with it a new doctrine from Iraq and Afghanistan called Army Force Generation (ARFOGEN).

The RAND Corporation's Arroyo Center studied the equipment implications of the new rotation strategy, which is a 21st century break from the Cold War model.

"The rotational equipping strategy that we describe in the report and that the Army is largely in line with is really predicated on those forces being deployed and coming back into the force and having to be rebuilt," said Christopher Pernin, senior scientist and director of the force development and technology program at RAND.

He told The Federal Drive with Tom Temin equipment savings is not such a cut-and-dried matter.

Christopher Pernin, senior physical scientist, RAND Arroyo Center (RAND)

During the Cold War, the Army was based on a mass mobilization model, which meant a large standing Army, all equipped, with many units ready to deploy at a moment's notice. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army has had to generate those forces, albeit at lower numbers than during the Cold War, over and over again.

"At any one time, only a portion of the Army is actually deployed, say about one-third," Pernin said. "Another one-third of that Army is just returning from deployments, so they're trying to get themselves re-situated back in the States. And another third is actually preparing to deploy after the current force that's in there."

Following the ARFOGEN model, forces rotate through this three-phased process and only the third that is actually deployed may need 100 percent of its equipment to prosecute war at a given time.

"What we tried to show in the report and through our analysis is that the forces that are deployed certainly need 100 percent of their equipment," Pernin said. "They are fighting with the equipment they were built to fight with."

Forces in earlier phases of the ARFOGEN cycle may not need the same level of equipping. "They might be able to get prepared and trained with far fewer pieces of equipment," Pernin said.

Identifying the equipment that's not needed in the early stages of the ARFOGEN cycle and reducing its number is one way of finding efficiencies in the process. Pernin said that this requires the Army to be flexible and adaptive on how units are being equipped.

"No longer are units given equipment for the rest of the time that that unit it around," he said. "Instead, this equipment needs to be constantly moving between units. So, there are attending costs with that movement which need to be taken into consideration."

RAND completed its analysis of the ARFOGEN cycle a few years ago and presented the report to the Army's G8, which oversees the Army's budget and programs. "This was a broader study to try to figure out how can the Army find efficiencies without reducing capacity and capability," Pernin said.

After the Afghanistan and Iraq deployments, the Army appears to be moving in the direction that RAND's analysis suggested.

"They have definitely articulated a need to move towards a rotational equipping strategy much more inline with the ARFOGEN cycle," Pernin said.