DOD tackling global logistics
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Oct 25, 2000
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,
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