Modern militaries hope to bypass the long and expensive factory-to-fort to port-to-base to last-tactical-mile to combatant-supply chain and replace it with organic manufacture on the battlefield or manufacture-to-direct need in combat to feed the tremendous consumption of operational demands.
Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System AACUS, a Marine system is intended to integrate a point and click system within a degraded visual environment, satellite denied navigation, obstacle avoidance enroute to and in the landing zone, and automated landing site selection for logistics use.
“Our delivery of these forces assures an unparalleled global expeditionary capability and gives our Nation options when needing to respond to a variety of crises. Ultimately, this unmatched capability extends a helping hand or projects combat power anywhere, at any time and provides a key strategic advantage for our Nation.
Speed and capacity have more often than not been a difficult logistics problem for the military to solve. Too much too soon is just as much a problem as supplier coming late. In order to combat the dangers of too much too soon, logistics strategists must ensure there is a proper network to distribute personnel and materiel to the precise point of need.
A smart logistics network is critical to the technical capabilities of machine delivery to the fight or direct manufacture by 3D printing. Delivering a unit ammunition it cannot carry, or printing too many spare parts, will only heighten follow-on logistics needs rather than alleviate them.
Recent tactical struggles with logistics, however, highlight the problems of delivery systems and processes placed into under the stress of combat. Military sustainment crews sometimes have little combat training and were expected to deliver materiel mostly unimpeded.
A permissive environment for logistics extends to the network domains as well. The need to create a network of logistics, which can meet combat requirements and provide the necessary command and control, requires a significant reliance on permissive battlespace. Solutions, such as blockchain tech are on the way to provide the open- architecture necessary to interface in the market, while also providing required operational security.
Even in modern context, regardless of technical means of transportation or manufacture, logistics still lives in the physical world. No amount of quick delivery or high-tech 3D printing will alleviate the fact that personnel need food and water, vehicles need fuel, and weapons need ammunition.
When we think of readiness, some experts confuse it with preparedness terms such as a ‘notice to move’. But it is common to find that despite a unit being well within its designated ‘notice’ when time comes for action, the unit is constrained because of the availability of kit, a lack of enabling elements available in supporting formations, the slow activation of commercial resources by strategic organisations as well as other logistics factors
In some cases, strategic-level decisions result simply because available capabilities cannot be appropriately sustained and, accordingly, are unable to be deployed. Sometimes decisions result in considerable advance moves based on combat forces being available, only to find these forces combat ineffective until the logistics ‘tail’ catches up.
In some situations, we can see many logistics readiness issues transpire directly onto operational outcomes. Results in logistics are a consequence of a process; a process involving numerous capabilities, agencies and organisations and takes resources made available to the military at the strategic level of war and converts them to combat power at the tactical levels.
Many factors are essential for logistics readiness, and the early performance of the logistics process at during an operation. Fundamentally, logistics readiness refers to the ability to undertake, to build up and thereafter to sustain, combat operations at the full combat potential of forces. It comprises actions undertaken during operations, but is predominantly a consequence of routines and practices set in organisation behaviour long before deployment.
It is not a simple matter of issuing logistics units their own ‘notice to move’ or applying some other metric that will inevitably be ‘crashed’ through in a time of crisis; rather logistics readiness is a function of total organisational performance and efficiency. This standard of performance is achieved by addressing factors applicable at all levels – from the strategic to the tactical.
Balance between logistics and combat resources and elements. There must be an appropriate balance of logistics resources to the combat elements. This is captured in the concept of‘tooth-to-tail’ ratios. But logistics resources can be appropriated by a variety of means and may include commercial operations as well as those in uniform.
Logistics plans and policies. Logistics plans and policies, from stockholding policies at the unit and formation level right up to national mobilisation plans at the strategic / budget level must be available. Format and bulk of plans are less important than those that are developed through interagency effort, and reflecting the nature of an efficient and effective logistics process.
Logistics organisation. Logistics organisations must be structured to support operational requirements rather than bureaucratic needs. Although organisations may not need to be resourced to their full wartime capability during most periods which they rarely are because to do so would be cost prohibitive. The organisational architecture must be established to enable the transition to an operational footing and policies in place to enable such a transition to occur rapidly.
Materiel readiness. There must be a high state of materiel readiness across the force. In addition to appropriately funding the sustainment of equipment, and the establishment of appropriate stockholdings in appropriate areas to enable operational contingencies, the means of sustaining equipment must be as appropriate for support operations as they are for efficiency in garrison. Failures in materiel readiness in garrison are often replicated in major sustainability issues on operations, and necessitate consequential actions such as cannibalisation to achieve desired operational readiness outcomes.
It is difficult to remove any discussion on logistics readiness without referring to the capacity of the logistics ‘tail’. It may seem that it is easier to build up logistics forces, and support organisations, than it is to have combat forces ready. This is because it is generally easier to procure equipment for logistics purposes than it is for combat forces, there is assumed familiarity between logistics operations and industrial activities which suggests that any conversion between the two is relatively simple, and there is always the possibility that the commercial sector can be turned to overcome any deficiencies there may be in organic logistics capabilities.
There are perceptions which tend to ignore the importance of logistics readiness to the overall employability of the force. Even if the ease of raising these logistic capabilities were a simple task, to take it for granted that operational deficiencies can be overcome at short notice is not very smart.
If military forces are to be responsive, fully trained and equipped logistics forces must be available; processes ranging from strategic activity to tactical action must be coherent and well-practiced. A combat force without efficient and effective logistic support is ineffectual and, in the end, a waste of organisational effort.
At the root of logistics readiness is the pairing of acquiring and maintaining military capability to have it available, and the establishment of a logistics process which enables or constrains its use operationally. Capabilities and acquisition process typically executed by Service headquarters, limit the combat forces that can be created and made available.
But it is logistics capabilities and practices that limit the forces that may be actually employed on military operations. The combat unit that is formed and given the latest technology, best armour and capable of overmatch against any possible adversary will be ineffective – undeployable in practice – without a logistics system capable of sustaining it.
Logistics readiness is particularly vital for expeditionary military operations. Not only do robust logistics capabilities define the capacity of a military to project force, these same capabilities underwrite the ability of a military to respond quickly, affording them time to overcome the distance there may be to the operational area.
Militaries rarely assign logistics readiness issues as their highest priority to resolve. Instead they are typically consumed with ensuring that the elements at the forward edge of the operational area are as ready as practicable. But if compromises are made as to the preparedness of the logistics ‘system’ as a whole, or the logistics process is inefficient or ineffective due to poor practices and inadequate logistic discipline across the military, the readiness and preparedness of any unit destined for operations will itself be compromised.
Operational reporting consistently identifies forces as having culminated as a consequence of system-wide logistics failures that may have been otherwise prevented. Less well known are the times in which senior commanders have had to make choices on which forces they chose not to deploy based on the readiness of the logistics forces and the logistics process more generally.
When it comes to battlefield logistics, Marines are envisioning a future of warfare that looks very different from its experience over the last decade — one where combat units need to be able to sustain themselves for up to a week without any access to traditional supply lines. The prospect is creating demands for new technologies that let soldiers produce their own water, make many of their own parts, and deliver much of the rest of what they need via drones. Additionally, troops need reliable electric power and high-speed networking capabilities .
We need to get back to basics, where soldiers can win in an austere environment. ”We are operating on the assumption that future ground combat against other capable militaries is more likely to involve smaller units who have basic supplies of fuel, food and water, and not much else,
Some of those austerity requirements are self-imposed, because the biggest threats to troops could come from advanced enemy forces pinpointing their locations via the electromagnetic signatures generated by their power generation or communications equipment. So those forces will need to be able to operate independently, constantly on the move, with little-or-no-communications.
Marines will need technologies that let them get by for longer periods of time without resupply of fundamental commodities like water. “We’re looking for technology that would be designed to produce or reuse water on-site. We’re looking at air-to-water technology and man-portable water purification,. Right now, our brigade combat teams don’t have the capacity or the capability to distribute 95 percent of their own water requirements or reuse 75 percent of their water requirements. So any emerging technology in this area would be huge to reduce our footprint.”
To cut back on the need for fuel supplies, Marines want to equip units with advanced power technologies — including more efficient equipment that uses less fuel, hydrogen and hybrid technology and microgrids, and portable renewable energy generation capabilities that harness solar and wind power.
Marines will also need the ability to fix their equipment without the expectation that spare parts can be readily flown or trucked in — or having to carry their own — to be able to produce them on-site using additive manufacturing technologies.
No matter how self-sustaining Marine units become, they will need to be resupplied at some point, and supply convoys are expected to be even more vulnerable to attack in future conflicts than they have been over the last decade So it wants to take as many troops off of logistics routes as possible and replace them with autonomous vehicles.
“One of the initiatives we have is to look at leader-follower technology, where you have a manned truck in the front and then several unmanned vehicles behind, therefore minimising the amount of manpower you have to have out there. “But we’re also looking at fully-autonomous ground and aerial resupply.
At the scale of major weapons systems, Marines are doing all it can to make systems maintainable in-theater, rather than having to return them to large depots for repairs or routine upkeep.
To achieve that, the service has begun installing condition monitoring subsystems on its older weapons to collect data on how they’re performing so that units can conduct conditions-based maintenance: fixing individual problems before they cause a breakdown, rather than conducting maintenance only on predetermined schedules.
“This is capturing usage and diagnostic data as well as parametric engineering data like temperature, speed, G-forces through turns, whatever it might be, and then off-ramping that data to the battalion maintenance officer to begin developing corrective action “It can tell us if we have maintenance problems, tech data documentation problems, obsolescence problems or reliability issues.
And for newer systems, Marines are rethinking the ways in which it ensures its weapons will be as sustainable as possible once they reach the battlefield. In the past, extensive analyses of weapons’ maintainability, reliability and sustainment costs were conducted in the early stages of their development, but hasn’t tended to revisit those questions once a system is fielded. So Marines are working to redesign the way product support strategies required of every major weapons systems are developed.
What do Marines demand in terms of design work and performance? How did the system perform in tests? And how’s it actually proving out in the operational battlespace? That’s proving to be a very powerful oversight mechanism.”
We’re taking a look at the requirements our capability developers outline for us in terms of performance characteristics: What are our supply availability measures? What is the mean time to repair, how maintainable, reliable, available should the system be?
We’re linking those requirements to what we’re calling an operational sustainment review where we bring weapons systems back into the building and reviewing all of those integrated product support elements.
It takes patience to teach Marines how to make sure all their equipment shows up where they can use it.
Deploying aircraft requires focused efforts by all stakeholders to ensure logistics resources are available to support the Fleet introduction to include funding, spares, tools, support equipment, information systems support, and training.
The summit was primarily built to maximise communication, elevate problems, and arrive at solutions. Most aircraft have a unique maintenance and support structure, making it difficult to implement best practices across the fleet.
"The logistics process, capabilities and organisations must be systematically assessed for its readiness. Every military activity or exercise is an opportunity for assessing logistics performance, but it is rare that military exercises comprehensively test and assess operational sustainability and logistics readiness. Fewer still are those exercises that test logistics readiness through a major deployment performed at short-notice; a phase of an operation that demands all supporting agencies are ready."
There must be a high state of materiel readiness across the force. In addition to appropriately funding the sustainment of equipment, and the establishment of appropriate stocks in appropriate areas to enable operational contingencies, the means of sustaining equipment must be as appropriate for support operations as they are for efficiency in garrison. Failures in materiel readiness are often replicated in major sustainability issues on operations, and necessitate consequential actions such as switching parts between aircraft to achieve desired operational readiness outcomes."
Marine Corps leadership utilise unreliable information when making decisions about major end items and spare parts because Information contained in the Marine Corps legacy logistics and supply information systems is significantly inconsistent & inaccurate.
We believe this occurs because Marine Corps guidance does not sufficiently define the respective roles and responsibilities for Marine Corps logistics information systems.
So this results in confusion among personnel in various Marine Corps commands about who is responsible for the accuracy of different elements contained in the systems. Inconsistencies and inaccuracies also occurred, in part, because Marine Corps guidance lacks adequate operating procedures and business rules for legacy logistics information systems.
Marine Corps personnel in the Fleet are not aware of, or are not in compliance with, current operation procedures and business rules. We found the Marine Corps has insufficient assurance that most important information is transitioning to Global Combat Support Systems.
Logistics Modernisation Programme system was not designed with the functionality to identify receiving and invoice documents stored in another system. So it wasn’t possible to identify the amounts it previously credited for inventory items returned for repair.
System did not provide sufficient, accurate, and appropriate documentation to support the costs recorded for sampled inventory transactions in capital working fund.
Result comes from ineffectively performed discovery and corrective action phase activities of the fiscal operating space related to capital fund inventory business processes.
Class deviations requires contracting personnel to make determinations of good supply schedule order deals for equipment and fixed services. A deviation is the issuance or use of a policy, procedure, solicitation provision, written contract section, method, or practice of conducting logistics actions of any kind at any stage of the process inconsistent with Logistics Rules. A class deviation is a change from guidance that affects more than one contract action.
Specifically, the System did not: 1) detail standard logistics operating procedures, flowcharts, and narratives describing inventory business processes; 2) identify the key logistics positions that needed to be contacted to identify, maintain, and provide key supporting documentation for the transactions associated with inventory processes; and 3) create corrective action plans to remediate known documentation deficiencies
A new enhanced Logistics data analytics tool is helping Marines keep its aircraft in the air with greater consistency, giving analysts insight into key readiness data. The tool aims to bring a predictive capacity to aviation readiness, giving planners a view into potential problems before they arise.
We can drill down and very quickly say, 'There’s your problem right there!' whereas before I had to take one spreadsheet and match it to another spreadsheet, and meld them together. That could take up a lot of time depending on how big the problem actually was..
Readiness has been an issue for Marines in recent years. The ability to fly when and as needed “is in a precarious position since it has been subject to a decade of high-tempo work overstressing the systems needed to keep aircraft in flying shape. At the same time, Marines has been “challenged to recover full productivity due to budget cuts.
The net result is that planes spend too long on the ground. The answer from the Logistics and Maintenance Analysis Division is better data management. Previously, vital information on aircraft status, parts and workflow has often been inaccessible.
“An analyst would go into a database, pull the data, clean it up, and then the data would lead them to something else where they would have to go to another database and do the same thing over and over.“
The new logisitcs system is aiming to smooth things out. “The point was to do some analytics to find out what the root causes were, what the correlations where that might be causing the airplanes to be down,” “But the system was being used in a very limited way, and we saw bigger possibilities in it.”
To build a smoother data analytics mechanism, developers had to overcome territorial hurdles, connected databases from many outside sources. “We didn’t own all those databases and very often the owners of those other databases don’t want people mucking around in their data. They have firewalls and things like that they didn’t want us to penetrate. “So we had to do a lot of work just to get access to these databases, to demonstrate that we weren’t going to break it.”
The tool now cuts across multiple databases to give a more comprehensive view than was previously available. The tool pulls together all the data from all those sources and presents it in a manner that can be easily reviewed. Instead of looking at a spreadsheet you get a graph: Here’s how many airplanes are down. Here are the list of components they are down for.”
Users can drill down into the data to correlate present shortages against historical trends. “In the total population of aircrafts, how many were down for this reason? The tools will tell you what components in those systems were holding those airplanes down. It will tell you what the parts and the subcomponents and the status.
This in turn gives planners an opportunity to become proactive. Deeper analytics make it possible to watch the entire inventory of aircraft for places where problems are likely to arise and to take preemptive active.
The tool starts to move us into proactive, projected space. It will set a baseline for a system, component or subcomponent using the latest several years worth of data on failures across those systems: Here’s how often it fails. If you move away from that baseline it will give you a heat map, a yellow light that shows you are failing more often than expected.
“The more often the system fails, the more warnings you will get. If we are proactive as soon as we see those initial warnings, we can take action before the supply system runs out of parts and before the maintenance system gets backlogged. “We can get ahead of the problem.”
“It has let us make the right decisions on divesting our inventory. We’re still providing the right parts where soldiers need them. Some of that was linking together what had been our legacy systems to get a clear picture of what our inventory posture is on any given day, but we also have a view into our contracting processes so that we can see when new procurements are going to be delivered, when the items that are out for repair are going to come back, when all of the items that are in transit are going to be delivered to our customers.
“We’re now taking these capabilities to streamline and automate our business processes down to the shop floor. “They’re using the tool in support of detailed production activities, and we’re now managing millions of transactions a day.”
Much of that work is happening via the recent deployment of mobile devices distributed to workers at depots where WiFi infrastructure, tablets and barcode scanners are beeing deployed to replace the mountains of paper that used to be necessary to specify and then document each turn of a screw on a helicopter, a truck or a tank.
“Before, if you were at one location taking apart a helicopter for an overhaul, that was all done manually: the engine goes through various work centers, the rotor blades go somewhere else, and a lot of people touch those components and use a lot of new parts before it comes back together into the helicopter at the end.
You can imagine the stack of paper as that process goes on. We’ve eliminated that with automated technologies so that all the labour, the parts consumed, the financials that link to all of that are all inside the tool, and you only have a couple pieces of paper moving around with barcodes that link back to all this information.”
“Now, we’re moving beyond infrastructure as a service and embracing platform tools as a service, adopting new capabilities to further enhance readiness. We cannot conduct tomorrow's operations using yesterday's processes and procedures.
We need to understand the leading indicators to readiness, and getting in front of the logistics challenges so we are marching forward to the technology of the future.
1. Create methods describing whole life cycle of a virtual production enterprise, including the design transactions among potential partners as part of the strategic activity.
2. Establish set of Reference Models to allow the representation of virtual production relationships to include design system teams, the operational business process and external constraints
3. Stand up performance measurement systems to help in assessment, decision-making and control of the production virtual organisation.
4. Utilise network engineering tools to solve specialised problems of the production business.
5. Employ Information Infrastructure model to support all the Virtual production Enterprise activities.
6. Build existing complementary approaches in only one architecture.
7. Improve result architecture incorporating new techniques, methods, models and templates.
8. Validate usability and application, carry out real enterprise integration projects, mostly in sectors with small and medium-sized enterprises
9. Organise knowledge and experience obtained in primary architecture
10. Develop particular architectures and specialised tools focus on necessities of every enterprise activity type