DOD tackling global logistics

The armed services are attempting to streamline logistics systems to speed

accurate data to warfighters, enhancing their ability to make battlefield

decisions, according to military officials at the 21st-Century Commerce

International Expo 2000 in Albuquerque.

"No single repository for accurate, real-time, seamless logistics information"

exists, according to John (Jay) Erb, director of the Global Combat Support

System Functional Requirements Office in the Director of Logistics (J4)

Office on the Joint Staff.

But Erb said his office has a plan to achieve that goal by no later

than 2005, following this timeline:

* Fiscal 2001: Minimize user wait time for information.

* Fiscal 2002: Establish user confidence via accuracy of information.

* Fiscal 2004: Establish total asset visibility and finish a real-time

Web-based logistics information system.

Dave Zeppieri, program manager for the Defense Logistics Agency's Integrated

Data Environment project, has adopted a similar timeline. He said the problem

of getting timely, accurate information multiplies when dealing with information

from disparate sources.

The goal of IDE is to solve the information technology shortfalls that

affect warfighters' ability to get the right information at the right time

for situational awareness, decision-making, pipeline performance analysis

and inventory tracking. "It means using a PC, laptop or handheld device

to meet customer needs to access IDE across all the supply chains," he said.

Major challenges in such logistics modernization programs include consolidating

legacy systems; identifying data elements and data integration strategies;

ensuring security; and establishing single sign-on portals at each agency,

Erb said.

The Air Force was the first service to attempt logistics modernization

using commercial-off-the shelf solutions to replace legacy systems, but

it encountered some unforeseen roadblocks on that path, said Dennis Ryan

of the logistics systems program office.

Ryan said the COTS solutions were not compatible with Air Force business

and required additional solutions that added to the cost. However, he added

that the Air Force is using COTS solutions for certain aspects of its modernization,

including security and system communications. He said the lessons learned

have proved to be valuable to his team as well as the other military services.

All three men agreed that the Internet will be key to facilitating communication

between the warfighters and the logistics information systems, and that

communications among the different services' logistics systems is a longer-term

goal.

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