Military items get universal IDs

Defense Department Unique Identification Web site

The Defense Department this week unveiled a policy to identify items DOD officials purchase. Unique Identification (UID) will track tangible items from purchase to disposal.

Marking physical items, such as spare parts or supplies, with a Universal Product Code that stays with them permanently is supposed to help the department keep better records for finances and logistics.

Michael Wynne, acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, announced the new policy July 29. He established several teams during the past several months to accelerate the program and make sure it is in place by the end of this month.

The system relies on commercial tracking standards, rather than forcing DOD to develop its own technology.

According to a July 11 memo, Defense officials haven't been able to properly track material shipped between contractors and the department. As a result, the armed services sometimes lack spare parts and can't adequately report or get reimbursement for defective components.

Parts for new weapons systems, including major modifications, will be the first items to get UIDs, starting in the next several weeks.

UIDs fit with DOD's foray into radio frequency identification, which allows items to be tagged with transmitters so they can be tracked as they are deployed to the field. The transmitters played a big role this year in supplying troops in Iraq, a process that created problems during the first Gulf War.


  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.