The design and maintenance of weapon systems so as to maximize their operational readiness.
The ability of naval forces to deploy and remain on station in international waters—and to maneuver, engage, and redeploy quickly across the sea-land interface—makes them a versatile military force in littoral areas. This variety of naval operations generates several very different types of logistic activity that, while sharing the common goals of managing and moving materiel, do so under different operating conditions. Different capabilities and different technologies are needed to be effective. The panel discusses the technology needed to manage and move materiel in three areas: (1) supporting naval forces at sea, (2) supporting the evolving Marine Corps concept of Operational Maneuver From the Sea, and (3) conducting logistics-over-the-shore operations.
Supporting naval forces at sea. The Navy’s under-way replenishment methods, though efficient in moving materiel from the logistic ship to a combatant, may leave the combatant with supplies hastily stowed, sometimes requiring “all hands” working parties and several days before they can be stored properly, locations can be recorded, and most importantly, the stores can be issued.
Information and packaging technology should soon be available to enable resupply points and logistic ships to know enough about the configuration of each ship, the ship’s storerooms, strikedown routes (from the deck, where materiel is received, through hatches and passageways to storerooms), and locations of materiel on board to permit packaging, labeling, and sequencing of deliveries for efficient strikedown and storage. New technology will make it possible to deliver supplies to combatants in “warfighter-ready” status, just as commercial retail firms are delivering merchandise “shelf ready” or “rack ready.”
Replenishing vertical-launched missiles at sea is difficult, slow, and dangerous even in calm seas. It is nearly impossible under less benign conditions. While the Navy is working on improving this capability, finding and installing more efficient means of rapidly rearming and loading missile launchers at sea must be pursued.
Further, the combat logistic ships that currently shuttle supplies to ships at sea are nearing the end of their operational lives. The time is opportune to perform a systematic, comprehensive assessment of the process of supporting ships at sea, including the role that containers can play in efficient storage, handling, and movement of materiel. Based on such an assessment it will be possible to design not just the next generation of shuttle ships, but also the at-sea logistic system of the future—the way supplies are stored, packaged, labeled, tracked, and handled on board both logistic ships and combatants.
Supporting Operational Maneuver From the Sea. Under the new concept of Operational Maneuver From the Sea, the Marine Corps will seek to provide