Goal: Improving supply chains
The Defense Department will release a new logistics enterprise architecture next month as part of its effort to connect 3,000 computer supply systems so managers can more easily order goods and troops can receive them more quickly.
The Enterprise Integrated Data Environment, which is part of DOD's overall logistics architecture and will be completed by June, will help officials in the military and the Defense Logistics Agency manage implementation of logistics systems. It will tie systems together by giving users a common interface for exchanging logistics information across the military, said Gary Jones, acting assistant deputy undersecretary of Defense for logistics systems modernization.
"This has to be a success," Jones said.
DOD officials hired Science Applications International Corp. and Enterprise Warehousing Solutions Inc., a systems integrator based in Chicago, to help create the framework.
To build the data architecture, company officials started by following certain steps developed through their work with government and commercial clients, such as defining requirements of the architecture. They then chose commercial software that would meet key objectives, including scalability and performance, said David Marco, the company's president.
Top logistics generals, testifying before Congress last week, stressed the need for a logistics architecture and common computer protocols to help solve the many problems troops encountered when ordering and delivering clothing, ammunition, water, food and parts during last year's invasion of Iraq.
The military does not require new supply systems — just connections among existing ones, said Lt. Gen. Claude Christianson, the Army's deputy chief of staff for logistics, during a March 30 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee's Readiness Subcommittee.
He said DOD officials need to define an architecture and adopt information technologies used in industry to track supplies. The military is conducting pilot tests of such technologies, including radio frequency identification devices, which recognize goods in shipping containers by scanning electronic tags on them, and software embedded in logistics systems that sense when supplies are running low and automatically orders more.
DOD has been able to improve logistics since the first Persian Gulf war, but it still lags behind industry standards. The private sector generally has a one- to two-day average for domestic deliveries and two to four days for international ones.
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