FCW in Mid-East: Systems clear view of supply chain
- By Dan Caterinicchia
Federal Computer Week's Dan Caterinicchia is in the Middle East, reporting on the role that IT plays in the Iraq war. Like ADT, FCW is a 101communications LLC publication.
FCW - CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - Army officials have labored here for nearly five months to integrate logistics systems, and their work has paid off by providing tactical-level commanders a common operating picture of logistics.
Three main systems and many subsystems were integrated to form the logistics common operating picture (LCOP). The three main systems are:
* The Joint Deployment and Logistics Model (JDLM), which is used for graphical
displays, modeling and data mining;
* The Integrated Logistics Analysis Program (ILAP), which is the data repository; and
* The in-transit visibility (ITV) network, which provides movement tracking.
"We looked at all the matured capabilities and asked, 'How can we
get them to talk?'" said Maj. Forrest Burke, chief of logistics information
management here for the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC).
The Defense Department's main asset tracker, the Global Transportation Network
21 (GTN 21), is useful at the strategic level, "but we needed something
at the operational/tactical level," Burke said.
LCOP was developed and is being refined with four initiatives in mind:
* Building an ITV network to see materiel in motion.
* Fusing information from many sources.
* Automating repetitive tasks.
* Providing flexible views of information.
The first integration of JDLM and ILAP occurred in mid-December, and ITV and ILAP were fused shortly after that, Burke said. The most recent addition has been to connect fuel data to the data repository, he said, "and now we're
playing with how to display it in a usable manner."
JDLM, which was developed by Tapestry Solutions Inc., provides the graphical part of LCOP by displaying vehicle and cargo movements on maps of southwest Asia down to satellite-level detail, said Rolf Osteraas, a military analyst at the San Diego-based company.
By clicking on a certain unit or vehicle, logistics officials can drill down and see exactly how many of an "item of interest" are available and if more are needed, Osteraas said.
Army officials use green, amber and red color codes to quickly identify supply levels, which is especially important because units often carry supplies for other troops.
"We want to measure the velocity of the supply chain and meter the rate that we feed the beast," Burke said, in order to avoid the logistical mistakes of Desert Storm, where thousands of containers went unused due to poor asset tracking and planning.
Maj. Ken Tillman, a reservist in the 337th Theater Support Command, is the ILAP/JDLM coordinator and helps ensure that the systems and the corresponding vendors work together. In addition, he also sets up training for the soldiers who need to use the systems.
"Everything is compressed," Tillman said. "We do a week's worth of training in a day and a day's worth in two hours."
But despite the tight training schedules and constantly growing number of feeder systems, the beauty of LCOP is that it uses and fuses existing capabilities to form a more complete tactical picture, Burke said. "We didn't invent anything new, we took existing capabilities and got them to talk."