By Samantha HillJune 7, 2019
Editor's note: The joint force is preparing for large scale combat across land, sea, air, space and cyberspace. Under the Multi-Domain Operations concept, Army Materiel Command has reorganized and reshaped to ensure readiness of the Strategic Support Area, where military might is generated, projected and sustained during the fight. This is the final article in a seven-part series highlighting seven focus areas to achieve that goal: Supply Availability and Equipment Readiness; Industrial Base Readiness; Installation Readiness; Strategic Power Projection; Munitions Readiness; Soldier and Family Readiness; and Logistics Information Readiness.
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - From installations housing Soldiers, to depots manufacturing what warfighters need, to the Army prepositioned stocks staged around the world, one of the common threads binding everything together is data.
To ensure readiness, the Army is collecting and analyzing data to make sure leaders make the best decisions and Soldiers receive what they need, when they need it. Gen. Gus Perna, Army Materiel Command's commanding general, said the way logistics information is used must be reformed.
"Underpinning everything we do is the massive amount of data that is at our fingertips," said Perna. "Our ability to see ourselves is the first step in any operation. Right now, I would argue that we have a lot of information, but we're not so good at synchronizing, integrating, assessing and making the decisions off the information we have."
Data is organized within enterprise resource planning systems, or ERPs. Col. John Kuenzli, special projects officer at Army Materiel Command and former commander of the Logistics Support Activity, said the data ERPs store comes from human and computer-automated input.
"The steps are like writing a thesis," said Kuenzli. "We gather information, make it accessible and organized, and then analyze it to see ourselves. It's a constant cycle."
ERPs have data tied to information across the Strategic Support Area. They show a variety of information including equipment numbers, what is ready to go, what is coming inbound in the next 24 hours, the number of ships and what's on them, the arrival of Soldiers, highway capacity, the best times of day to drive, and more. That information provides a solid foundation for strategic decision making.
"The data helps prioritize efforts based on what we see, how we see ourselves," said Kuenzli.
Just like the automotive industry evolved over time, moving from the Model T to autonomous vehicles, a similar movement is happening in the computer world, where system interconnectivity and accessibility are becoming the new standard, Kuenzli said. While ERPs store a large variety of data, each of the ERPs cannot connect and synch with one another. Soldiers and civilians use multiple ERPs to get the data they need, often connecting the dots themselves rather than data connecting autonomously. Perna said this is something that must be reformed.
"Right now, my assessment, our ERPs are duplicative, they are complicated, they are not integrated platforms and they don't provide us with the right information at the right time," said Perna. "We must bring these capabilities together so that they enable commanders' decision-making in mission command."
To address this issue, Army Materiel Command is working with the Army G-4, PEO Enterprise Information System and the program managers for the ERPs to continue developing and modernizing the systems. Through this process, the goal is for ERPs to continue to deliver data while overcoming connection gaps.
While working to connect ERPs, Army Materiel Command and the Army G-4 are also working with the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and Army Cyber Command to ensure Army networks remain secure.
Kuenzli said advancements in connectivity, hardware and software brings the Army closer to Soldiers' ability to access logistics systems through portable or handheld devices.
By having the ability to share data across ERPs and access the information from anywhere in the world, Soldiers and civilians would have a clear picture of the environment across all domains.
"I personally believe that our approach in this light, to see ourselves and make the best decisions, will be a key step to enabling the strategic capability for logistics and sustainment, and keep us where we need to be - in front of the enemy," said Perna.