DOD readies logistics plans

RICHMOND, Va. — The military will prepare plans for three key logistics systems during the next few months to resolve materiel tracking and delivery problems encountered during last year's invasion of Iraq, industry and military officials told a conference audience this week.

Army officials expect this month to receive from Northrop Grumman Corp. the architecture for the Global Combat Support System, which will track logistics and medical supplies, said Otto Guenther, vice president and general manager at the company's Mission Systems division.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense will issue in August a policy to buy systems and technologies that sense when supplies run low and responds by automatically ordering them, said Louis Kratz, assistant deputy undersecretary of Defense for logistics plans and programs in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness.

The April 6 announcements at the Association of the United States Army's annual logistics conference came a week after Defense Department officials said they planned to publish an updated logistics architecture next month and a strategy in June for the services and agencies to access data between their systems.

The problems experienced tracking and delivering water, clothing, ammunition, food and hygiene products to troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom should not fall all on the Army. U.S. and coalition forces had the same logistics troubles, too, Kratz said, speaking at the AUSA conference titled, "Expeditionary Logistics: Rapidly Deployable Sustainment Capability; Anywhere in the World; Across a Joint and Combined Environment."

"It was a DOD problem," Kratz said. "It was a failure to meet Army needs and Army requirements. We knew we had this challenge five years ago."

The military developed and deployed during the past 40 years logistics systems that focused on mass to fight the vast Warsaw Pact armies in Eastern Europe. "Mass was good in the Cold War," Kratz said.

However, war and our adversaries have changed. The military did not move fast enough to build and field logistics systems and technologies to support troops moving quickly and fighting small enemy groups in rugged, desolate environments, he said.

"Our information architecture is aged," Kratz said. "Many of the systems were developed in the 1960s."

Despite the numerous problems, the military achieved logistics milestones in Iraq. "We moved a ground force farther and faster than anywhere in mankind," Kratz said.

Since 2001, the military delivered 3 million tons of materiel to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, said Lt. Gen. Richard Hack, deputy commanding general of Army Materiel Command. He also spoke at the conference.


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