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Logistics support units: the jawbone of Naval Special Warfare.

The term "tooth vs. tail" has often been used to describe the war fighter-support element relationship. However, if you look at the LOGSU's mission and how we operate with the SEAL teams, one would say a much more accurate description is that the LOGSU is the "jawbone that supports the teeth."

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When you think of Special Warfare the first image that comes to mind is a U.S. Navy SEAL. What most people find surprising is that nearly 60 percent of Naval Special Warfare (NSW) personnel serve in Combat Support (CS) or Combat Service Support (CSS) roles. The LOGSU is Naval Special Warfare's CSS organization.

Naval Special Warfare historically operated as part of the fleet from where much of its CSS needs were met. NSW is now deployed in an expeditionary posture, separate from the fleet fixed shore installations, driving the need to properly define, resource, and implement an appropriate CSS and expeditionary logistics paradigm.

The "SOF Truths" are an integral part of Special Operations Forces (SOF) heritage, and they provide time tested guidance for the SOF Community. These truths include:

1. Humans are more important than hardware

2. Quality is more important than quantity

3. Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced

4. Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur

5. Most SOF operations require non-SOF assistance

The fifth SOF truth rings especially true in our current conflict. NSW depends upon the LOGSUs to provide the critical, non-SOF assistance necessary for them to defeat the enemy. The LOGSU is manned and organized to properly support both garrison and the greatly expanded expeditionary operations of Naval Special Warfare. The two LOGSUs were commissioned under the Naval Special Warfare-21 initiative to ensure maximum logistics support and enable NSW to remain a viable, relevant force for many decades to come. The LOGSU is tasked to plan, integrate, synchronize, and provide logistics support for its respective Naval Special Warfare Group and its subordinate units and SEAL teams in order to directly support NSW operations and training during times of peace, crisis, and war.

Commanding a LOGSU requires leadership on scale with our counterparts in the unrestricted line communities. This CSS command is tasked to provide doctrinal logistics to NSW with over 348 personnel assigned to one of six departments: Admin, Supply, Medical, Weapons/Ordnance, Combat Engineering ("Seabees"), and Operations which includes diving, air, and surface craft operations.

LOGSU has a diverse workforce of over 293 military personnel comprised of 22 officers from nine officer designators, 46 chief petty officers, and 225 enlisted personnel from 20 different ratings. SEAL officers and enlisted Sailors are embedded throughout the LOGSU organization to bring both the requisite operational expertise and the integrated responsiveness necessary for a SOF support organization. In addition to the active duty personnel, I have 25 DoD civilians and 30 contractors.

As I mentioned earlier, the LOGSU's have two primary mission sets: garrison and expeditionary support.

The LOGSUs garrison mission is to provide administrative, supply, medical, combat services (base camp and vehicles), combat systems support (dive, air, and surface craft), and weapons systems support (small/large caliber firearms, visual augmentation systems, and ordnance). This mission set includes supporting non-deployed forces throughout their Inter-Deployment Training Cycle (IDTC). In addition to the SEAL teams, the LOGSUs support their respective NSW Group headquarters staff, Training Detachment, Support Activity, and overseas NSW units and detachments.

The LOGSUs expeditionary mission is to attach fully manned, trained and equipped CSS troops, led by Supply Corps lieutenants (CSS Troop Commander/N4), to each SEAL team. The CSS Troop's mission is to provide comprehensive logistics support to include supply, ordnance, weapons, First Lieutenant (surface craft & motors), dive, air, "Seabee" support, and tactical/non-tactical mobility to SEAL teams throughout the IDTC and subsequent deployments. As the LOGSU commanding officer, I am responsible to man, train, and equip a dedicated cadre of CSS personnel into a CSS Troop, with defined leadership and organization, for attachment to each deploying NSW squadron which only 40 percent of the 300 personnel are operators.

The LOGSU commanding officer is the senior logistician for the NSW Group and maintains operational and logistical situational awareness to ensure logistics assets are properly employed and logistics considerations for all proposed courses of actions are properly addressed and logistically feasible. The dynamic environment of NSW presents challenges at the command level. Technology and tactics change rapidly as NSW adapts to meet new challenges on the battlefield.

LOGSUs CSS personnel must therefore adapt on operational and tactical levels just as quickly to ensure they will meet future requirements. In addition, NSW operates in a joint environment. Personnel assigned to a LOGSU must not only be familiar with Navy policies and doctrine, but must also master Army and Marine Corps logistical procedures, depending upon co-location while forward deployed. Simply put, the LOGSU and the logistics functions it performs are closely aligned to joint logistics capabilities and supplies.

As the LOGSU commanding officer, I am challenged to translate strategy into policy and practice. I have to build a command with discipline, cohesion, trust, and proficiency. I clarify missions throughout the ranks by producing my commander's intent, command philosophy, and a systematic approach to execution. I rely heavily on mentoring subordinates and empowering them to execute their assigned responsibilities and missions.

Commanding a LOGSU has proven to be the most challenging and rewarding job of my career. This is, hands down, the best job in the Supply Corps. No other O-5 job in the Supply Corps has a greater impact on providing doctrinal logistics to the war fighter engaging the enemy overseas on a daily basis.

I promise you that this is an exciting, demanding, and rewarding command which will continue to be at the logistical 'tip of the spear' in support of NSW and our nation's Overseas Contingency Operations. So now that you have been introduced to a LOGSU, do you have what it takes to command one?

"SOF Truths"

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1. Humans are more important than hardware

2. Quality is more important than quantity

3. Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced

4. Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur

5. Most SOF operations require non-SOF assistance

By CDR Kevin Jones, SC, USN

CDR Kevin Jones serves as Commanding Officer, Logistics Support Unit One.
COPYRIGHT 2010 U.S. Department of the Navy, Supply Systems Command
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Jones, Kevin
Publication:Navy Supply Corps Newsletter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Words:1048
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