ASOC Futures Branch chief predicts greater agency role in force sustainment

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

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A small branch in the Defense Logistics Agency’s Agency Synchronization Operations Center is strengthening relationships with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to understand warfighters’ supply and sustainment needs 20 years from now.

“We’re getting closer to the warfighter every day, and DLA is getting into the battlespace more and more because of the operational needs,” said Futures Branch Chief Rick Iwanski. “If the future force is going to change, we should know what those changes will be so we can anticipate them and create value-added investment decisions informed by joint concepts.”

When the JCS finalized its Capstone Concept for Joint Operations 2030, which guides the development of the future joint force, and the Joint Concept for Logistics 2035, DLA Logistics Operations leaders recognized the need to plan how it would support those forces. A joint concept integrated process team, or JCIPT, was created with representatives from DLA’s major subordinate commands and DLA Headquarters directorates, but it wasn’t enough, Iwanski said.

“We had the advantage with the ASOC transformation process and bringing some changes in how things are done in DLA, particularly on synchronizing within the enterprise and the way we face the customer,” he said, adding that the ASOC’s mission is to integrate DLA’s operational mission and business support functions to provide agile, global support to warfighters and federal partners.

“What we look for in this business of joint concepts is capabilities,” he continued. “Are the capabilities we need to fight aligned with the way the JCS chairman thinks we’re going to fight future conflicts?”

Iwanski said the goal is for DLA to become better partners with the Joint Staff, which oversees the process of developing joint operational capabilities of the future.

“They’re the entry level for all the weapons systems before they go to acquisition; the Joint Staff has to approve everything,” he said. “These capabilities allow us to actually go in and design what that future force will look like, not just the weapons systems, which would be a material solution, but also DOTMLPF [doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities].”

JCIPT members are working with the joint staff to integrate efforts such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, international vendor vetting and blockchain technology. Members will also participate Dec. 16-18 in the JCL 2035 Red Team Review, a first for DLA, Iwanski said.

DoD leaders have recognized DLA’s efforts to prepare for the future and are including the agency in joint exercises that test future joint capabilities, he added.

“The future force is going to require more prepositioning, more resources and definitely different skill sets; those are all implications that we have to think about when we make investment decisions. For DLA, it’s mostly what we refer to as sustainment for the future force,” he said. “We’re the ones who keep warfighters supplied, and we want them to get the solutions and the capabilities needed to win the fight.”