Total asset visibility is the goal

By providing the military with almost instantaneous updates on the location of troops and supplies on the move, the U.S. Transportation Command's Global Transportation Network 21 (GTN 21) should help commanders make operational decisions faster, according to officials.

GTN 21 wraps the logistics systems of the services and defense agencies — along with commercial carrier information — into one integrated database.

An effort is under way to link GTN 21 to the transportation information technology systems operated by the Defense Department, including the Air Force's Cargo Movement Operations System (CMOS) and those operated by civilian transportation companies. CMOS monitors passengers and cargo to increase in-transit visibility from home bases to the trenches.

Northrop Grumman Information Technology was awarded a $63.8 million contract Sept. 26 to design new software for GTN, upgrade the existing system architecture and provide support for the upgrade, a company spokeswoman said.

The GTN system operates at better than 95 percent in-transit visibility with data from CMOS and other systems, which is impressive considering that the goal was 60 percent in January 2002, said Lori Jones, chief of the Transportation Command's in-transit visibility branch.

To support the command's goals, GTN 21 will be DOD's system of choice. The Air Force's CMOS automatically feeds critical data into it, including when products or personnel were shipped out and when they are received or arrive, said Mike Howell, transportation analyst in the Air Force's Standard Systems Group.

Susan Kirkland, CMOS program manager at SSG, said that to support the war on terrorism, the CMOS team incorporated as much electronic data entry as possible between the two systems.

"Some manual entry is still required, but we implemented as many data edits as possible to ensure the information gets there quickly and clearly," Kirkland said. After last year's Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, "CMOS and GTN helped make [in-transit visibility] more reliable."

Jones said that although GTN is operating at impressive rates, total asset visibility is the goal, including materiel in storage or repair, which GTN currently does not track.

"We're working closely with the Joint Staff and other DOD stakeholders as we define asset visibility to the data level and then determine how our transportation systems, policies and procedures in the field can capture that information" automatically, Jones said. "That hands-off reporting would allow us to seamlessly process cargo and passenger loads and provide the asset visibility that the warfighter is needing."

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