U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command
Army Watercraft Master Plan
This latest edition of the Army Watercraft Master Plan charts a course for the management, employment, and modernization of our watercraft fleet. As the Army moves into the 21st century with force projection, the core component of the national military strategy, transportation logistics must be prepared to project and sustain forces engaged in contingency operations worldwide.
The Army Watercraft Master Plan is a long-range fleet management plan covering a span of 15 years and is based on the minimum requirements necessary to support a Force XXI power projection Army. We have designed the plan for biennial update to accommodate doctrinal, structure, and technology changes. The objective of this plan is to prudently manage our critical watercraft resources while providing timely and responsive support to deployed forces.
A major initiative with this edition of the master plan is our effort to describe for the Army components of the Regional Unified Commands an employment strategy for Army watercraft. This Army watercraft preposition strategy is focused primarily on the heavy brigade afloat. Our objective is to discharge the afloat heavy brigade in six days, in any theater environment, whether the operation is conducted in a modern port facility or instream using logistics over the shore. Applying lessons learned from recent operations and the latest modeling tools, we have sized the Army watercraft fleet to perform this Army Strategic Mobility Program mission and respond to unified command joint requirements.
In using lessons learned and modeling to build our sized packages of landing, lighter, and utility craft that support the Army Strategic Mobility Program and unified command requirements, we also underscore that doctrine drives force structure. The master plan identifies critical doctrinal issues to address changes in fleet modernization, employment, and capability. As the doctrine is revised or updated, it will be used in the Total Army Analysis to structure the Army Force XXI watercraft fleet.
Also critical to fleet management is our prepositioning and stationing strategy. This, too, is a relatively new initiative and is included in the master plan for the first time with publication of this latest revision. Our prepositioning strategy compliments the employment strategy. Because of a number of factors including distance, cargo workload, and intensity of operations, a combination of afloat, area prepositioning and forward stationing of crewed vessels is necessary to fully support a single contingency in either of two geographical areas most likely to experience hostilities. Here, the watercraft master plan describes the coordination that is necessary to execute a prepositioning strategy that places a robust, flexible, and responsive fleet in an area of operation in time to meet Army Strategic Mobility Program and unified command force closure and sustainment throughput requirements. The current plan is to preposition 45 craft to respond to regional contingencies to support the early entry force. Our goal is to have the prepositioned fleet in place by Fiscal Year 1999. The plan also identifies the follow-on U.S.-based craft necessary to meet unified command requirements. Thus, the Army’s minimum watercraft fleet requirement is 183 craft.
The Army Watercraft Master Plan further describes in detail how we will manage and maintain the fleet. Our modernization strategy is an extended look at the health of the fleet. From craft acquisition to divestiture, the plan lays the framework for managing and funding cyclic maintenance, material change and extended service, research and development, and acquisition for each class of craft in the fleet. The modernization strategy addresses the need to economically manage the fleet while obtaining and retaining the capability necessary to meet contingency and wartime requirements.
Through a combination of materiel change, extended service, acquisition, and divestiture, the fleet of 2012 will be modernized and fully capable of supporting and sustaining the Force XXI power projection Army.
"The 21st century is upon us. Decisions made today about force structure, equipment modernization and doctrine must carry us for the next 15 – 20 years. Our 21st century Army — Army XXI — is forming right now."
Dennis J. Reimer, General, United States Army
Chief of Staff, 28 July 1995