By Joe Lacdan, Army News ServiceJune 4, 2019
WASHINGTON -- The Army must continually push innovation to meet its logistics modernization goals, leaders said recently. To help achieve that goal, the service enlisted help from one of the nation's top online retailers.
During a panel discussion at an Association of the U.S. Army "Hot Topic" symposium on sustainment, May 29, Army leaders discussed with an Amazon executive how to improve speed and precision in transporting supplies.
Amazon revolutionized how consumers shop with timely, expedited delivery of products worldwide. Some Army leaders wondered how much they could learn from the online retail giant?
"In a word, a lot," said William Moore, assistant deputy chief of staff for Army G-4. "Especially when it comes to big data. We have a long way to go."
Army leaders hope to follow Amazon's example of adapting and reinventing itself by learning from setbacks. Like Amazon, the Army has bolstered its cybersecurity capabilities while remaining user-friendly. The service recently announced that it is working on additional authentication measures that will provide Soldiers with greater options to access online resources, while still remaining secure against threats.
"The company is always thinking about cybersecurity and protecting not only our systems, but our customers' data as well," said Dave Bozeman, vice president of Amazon Transportation Services.
Moore said to better expedite the Army's data processing, the service looked at its authoritative data sources and recently created an Army analytics board. Stewards for various data types were established including Moore, who serves as the logistics data steward.
Moore said that the Army had more than 200 authoritative data sources but has reduced that number by 47 and said he expects to reduce more to reduce lag times and operate more efficiently.
The Army's acquisition chief, Bruce Jette, said in his keynote address that logistics should not be an afterthought, but instead be an integrated component of how combat systems are designed.
The Army will explore several measures to improve the transportation of assets and vehicles, including a larger bulk-fuel tanker with sensors that measure fuel and track ammunition levels. The service is looking at line-haul distribution and tactical distribution for fuel. New autonomous trucks with leader-follower and early-entry hose line capabilities were recently introduced.
As the service prepares for new types of warfare, namely large-scale ground combat operations in urban environments and threats from cyberspace, the Army can expect threats to its logistics framework. The Army plans to develop logistics information systems that can operate in a disrupted environment. The systems will need to function without a network connection, leaders said.
"I think the biggest thing we need to worry about is attacks on our logistics systems," said retired Lt. Gen. Kathleen Gainey, who served as the deputy commander of the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. "Not just attacks to have denial of service, but attacks to spoof inaccurate data into our systems. And that is even scarier to me than just denial of service. So we need to be looking at what is it we need to do to harden our systems."
Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, the principal military deputy to the assistant Army secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, said that part of the service's large-scale modernization effort has been to hasten the acquisition process. The Army has laid the foundation for that success by establishment of eight cross-functional teams to meet its six modernization priorities: future vertical lift, long-range precision fires, network, Soldier lethality, air and missile defense, and next-generation combat vehicles.