TOTAL SUPPORT FORCE: A KEY ENABLER OF OPERATIONAL CAPABILITY?
By Squadron Leader Jamie Cameron
Third Place Fujitsu Essay Prize – Squadron Leader Jamie Cameron, BA RAF, Officer Commanding Logistics & Supply Training Squadron, Defence Logistics School
Is the concept of a TSF a key enabler of operational1 capability? This Paper argues that the TSF is conceptually valid and comprises of a series of underlying components. However, Defence has yet to properly apply a set of cogent business rules to TSF and there is a need to separate the TSF into Functional, Operational, Temporal2 and Environmental (FOTE3) elements. The potential Players4 must then be considered against FOTE elements End to End (E2E) and risks against the delivery of effective command and control considered and applied to each element. The Paper considers the transformation of the TSF from a concept to a means of delivering a practical capability using evidence and case studies from Air environment transformation programmes.
The Paper defines the TSF. Potential TSF Players are then considered and where they could provide properly assured support E2E when assessed against FOTE. Consideration is given to roles that the Reserves could play in support to Operational capability E2E. The utility of current Contractor Support to Operations (CSO) principles are considered as is the benefit of employing Contractors in static roles in support. The Paper revisits the Forward/Depth concept and argues that the TSF is a refinement of this and not a step change in the delivery of assured support. An examination is made as to how risk identified against support could be mitigated and how new technology could, through the introduction of new ways of working, assist in the generation of operational assuredness.
The Paper concludes that the TSF is a key enabler of Operational capability. However, much further work is required to identify, bound and utilise the concept as a means of functional based employment E2E. Where E2E is bounded, and the concept transformed into a set of business rules based on FOTE, the TSF offers potential flexibility to the Commander through the provision of properly assured support.
Throughout the history of warfare, Contractors have equipped and sustained the Military. Indeed, Burton5 stated that, ‘The idea of multi-sourcing the support constituents of an army pre-dates modern organised Military forces. Indeed, our Victorian and even medieval predecessors would have considered this approach a normal part of business’.
The modern application of this principle was recently considered in the Defence Reform Paper6 which proposed the adoption pan-Defence of a
‘Whole Force Concept’ (WFC) to ensure that Defence is supported by the most sustainable, effective, integrated and affordable balance of regular Military personnel, Reservists, Ministry of Defence Civilians and Contractors’.
The Defence Reform Unit (DRU) was created in August 2010 to review the strategic management of the MOD. The DRU recommended the adoption of a ‘Defence Support Vision’ detailing the need for a more fluid and flexible mix of Military, Contractor and Civilian staff in support roles’7.
The TSF is subordinate to the WFC and acts as its practical application within the support domain. The TSF concept advocates that all support activities which contribute to the delivery of Military capability should be met through the provision of a fully-integrated and sustainable support force E2E. Mason8 suggested that the TSF should comprise the: ‘right person, in the right role, at the right readiness, with the right skills at the right cost’. Antill and Moore9 hypothesized that it is only by getting such a balance right in the total force, with the optimal collaboration of Contractors and Civil Servants, alongside that of Regular and Reserve Forces that the UK can optimise In Theatre support. Whilst such optimisation is indeed im