How US military logistics can be streamlined and enhanced for future conflict
A-ICE are highly experienced in the development of intelligent solutions in response to the real requirements of military logistics operations. Working with key stakeholders in the air transport community for more than 25 years and developing integrable applications and IT solutions within the airports environment to support mission-critical systems, we understand the complexities and importance of seamless logistics operations.
The Collaborative Logistics Optimization System (CLOS), first presented at the NATO TIDE Sprint event last year, was developed in collaboration with Optit (accredited with the University of Bologna) and with the Italian Air Force. The launch of CLOS demonstrates our commitment to research and development of a real solution to enhance and prepare air transport operations for the future of military combat preparedness, and represents our experience, understanding and constructive confidence in air transport operations.
The launch of CLOS attracted attention at the NATO TIDE Sprint event and has increased the credibility and reputation of A-ICE, as a result of our serious participation in discussion with some of the most strategic organizations at this and other international military events (NATO, EDA, TIDE SPRINT and NITECs).
CLOS represents a core innovation to assist military logistics operations at every level, in every situation and offers a solution to some of the biggest challenges facing US military maneuvers in the future of combat.
The Creation and Aims of the Survivable Logistics Task Force
At the end of 2016, the ‘Survivable Logistics Task Force’ was formed by the Pentagon to address both current existing and potential future logistics issues. The task force, led by retired US military Generals and business leaders and headed by the Defense Science Board, has spent two years evaluating the current state of Department of Defense (DoD) and Joint Logistics Enterprise (JLEnt) and has now released its findings and recommendations.
Survivable Logistics has been cited as the ‘key enabler’ of all power within the US military. The provision of resources through the mobility triad is a core requirement in any conflict situation, without which, tactical improvements and implemented advanced technologies dramatically reduce in importance – ‘[they] will not have the opportunity to matter’.
The task force had five main aims for the study:
- Evaluate the implications of current and emerging threats to the DoD logistics enterprise.
- Develop concepts to mitigate emerging threats to the DoD logistics enterprise.
- Create actionable recommendations that will reduce significant vulnerabilities.
- Consider applications of emerging technology, including autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, and information technology.
- Evaluate concepts that can enhance survivability of the logistics enterprise, such as disaggregation, deception, and hardening.
Over an initial 12-month period, the 16-strong task force gathered intelligence, information and data, consulting military professionals, both active and retired, from the mobility triad – the US Army, Navy, Marines and the US Air Force, and from the intelligence and business communities.
The task force identified four main areas that require urgent attention to address the real and immediate threats to logistics and to secure these challenges for future combat situations:
- Start Survivable Logistics at Home
- Protect, Modernize, and Leverage the Mobility Triad
- Protect and Enhance Logistics Information
- Exploit Globally Integrated Logistics to Support the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS)
The task force made recommendations to help solve both current and potential issues and challenges raised within the study. A-ICE believes that the implementation and utilization of CLOS could provide real solutions to these key recommendations, helping to secure and enhance logistics in today’s modern military landscape, while providing a scalable, flexible approach to new technologies integration for the future.
Start Survivable Logistics at Home
The task force identified that action must begin on home soil and found that US military readiness has been affected by cuts and underfunding for decades. This has inevitably reduced resources, infrastructure and training in all sectors.
Funding is also vital to tackle the threat of cyber-attack for both military and civil logistics networks. The task force suggests approaching this as a ‘whole-of-nation’ issue, including homeland infrastructure in terms of the provision of power and other nationally-important utilities, ports and borders management. Recoverability following cyber-attack is crucial and should also be considered an important part of preparedness.
Training is vital for military preparedness yet is an area that has also suffered under cuts and lack of funding, according to the findings. With up-to-date training and awareness within military logistics operations and including those in conjunction with commercial partners, potential logistics constraints can be addressed, challenges faced, and solutions explored at wargames level during regular training exercises. According to the task force findings, in order to drive preparedness for overseas deployment of troops, hardware and supplies, homeland infrastructure must be ‘reliable and strong’ and provision must be made to ensure funding is at ‘maximum executable levels’ to meet full, mission-capable status. The task force recommended a full implementation of Performance Based Logistics strategies that can optimize readiness while minimizing the costs, resources and logistics footprint.
Protect, Modernize, and Leverage the Mobility Triad
The protection of the mobility triad – surface (ground and sea), air, prepositioning – is key in warfare. Concerns are growing surrounding the shrinkage of both the commercial sealift fleet that supports military logistics and government-owned fleets, expected to decrease by half over the next 15 years.
The study also revealed that there is (again) a lack of funding and wargaming within both airlift and sealift and recommends a strengthening of both for future logistics preparedness, in addition to the implementation of new operational concepts to ensure critical lines of communications remain open, secure and uninterrupted during conflict.
Current strategies in DoD prepositioning do not meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy, according to the task force findings, and must be updated with all adversary tactics considered. It has been highlighted that there are opportunities that currently exist within commercial logistics networks to enhance DoD prepositioning and part of the recommendations include greater co-operation and collaboration for the development of strategic plans, policy and logistics for long-range distribution.
The inclusion of commercial partners in operational, planning and mobility studies could significantly incentivize multi-year funding and contribute to the strengthening of current and the establishment of new lines of communication and expanded, secure access, according to the task force findings and recommendations.
Inclusion should also stretch to recapitalization of the Ready Reserve Force (RRF), according to the recommendations of the task force. The study revealed that a cost-efficient solution could be found in the acquisition of foreign-built vessels to replenish the Maritime Security Program. The cost comparison was significant – $20-$30 million for a used, foreign-built vessel vs. $850 million for a new, US-built RORO.
Protect and Enhance Logistics Information
One area of logistics has already been affected by cyber-attack in the commercial sector – information technology systems. The protection and enhancement of logistics information and electronic data is of paramount importance within the military, and it is currently at risk, according to the findings of the task force.
The task force highlighted that data-sharing and accessibility is also currently at risk in future warfare situations and a dispersed, survivable logistics structure, strong, scalable IT system and secure, cyber-protected communications will be demanded.
Current Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence solutions already hold the keys to the delivery of such a system, according to the report findings, and should be explored further. Commercial logistics platforms harness the power of predictive analysis, anomaly detection, supply chain management and optimization and other logistics innovations to deliver a system that enhances not only productivity but also security, in ways that could be adopted and adapted to support military activities.
Cloud technology is one area that should be explored to help to optimize decision-making through data analysis and sharing. Currently, logistics data is not being utilized to its full potential and cloud technology can help. This type of platform can help to protect sensitive information, even when disparately distributed throughout the supply chain.
Adoption of next-generation technologies and data analysis could offer the US military an opportunity to streamline and reenergize logistics on a global scale, while enhancing the protection of data and information flow.
The study revealed that there is a lack of development and testing of blockchain-type technology and processes. Such systems could be used effectively to help streamline efficiency and reinforce supply chain security, while offering the levels of data and information flow protection that will form an essential role the proposed decentralization of military logistics systems in the future.
Exploit Globally Integrated Logistics to Support the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS)
The task force found that, across the board, US Army and Air Force Reserve units are falling behind the National Defense Strategy (NDS) deployment guidelines. Today’s forces require logistical restructure to balance Active and Reserve component readiness, and funding must again be increased to facilitate restructure, research and development, while simultaneously reducing logistics demand and pressure.
The recommendation for a system of pre-approval for early force flow of reserves with enabling capabilities for command and control could enhance deployment and encourage onward movement of forces. However, pressure is increasing to implement solutions for multi-location, remote based operations and communications, which cannot be achieved without significant initial [RDT&E] investment. The task force noted that legacy logistics is currently underfunded to the point that it cannot scale to adopt and adapt emerging technologies and capabilities from the commercial sector.
The creation of a Logistics RDT&E Board for investment is also recommended. The focus for RDT&E should centre around four areas, according to the report, and seek to establish synchronization of investments:
- Fuel demand reduction
- Local power generation – including exploration of nuclear
- Increase power storage capacity, but reduce weight
- Additive manufacture
The future of warfare is changing, and adversaries advancing in technological solutions. Commercial logistics platforms are increasingly innovative, automated and advanced, and work with big data to harness powerful analytics capabilities. It is time for the US military to address today’s and tomorrow’s challenges posed by traditional logistics – and fast – CLOS can help.
The Battlefield of the Future and the Challenges the US Military will Face
The battlefield of the future promises to be a very different place than historic or even current conflict dictates. For at least the last two decades, the US military has enjoyed almost seamless movement of troops and supplies via the mobility triad of air, sea and land with no clear or visible threat to logistics.
Concerns have been growing within the US military due to advancements in technology and military hardware amongst its traditional adversaries. Fears that interference with resupply routes and supply storage facilities through cyber-attack, hacking techniques, advanced intelligence and hardware have been the driving force behind the initiative to improve and adjust logistics operations for the modern military age.
How A-ICE’s Collaborative Logistics Optimization System (CLOS) offers a seamlessly compliant solution
A-ICE’s Collaborative Logistics Optimizaton System (CLOS) offers a comprehensive, compliant solution to reduce time and resources for precision military logistics planning, delivering benefits within the SAFE framework and ensuring planning remains Secure, Accurate, Fast and Efficient.
Every link in the chain of planning military logistics missions must be comprehensively aligned and include minute detail to deliver the best chance of success. Only when the supply chain is seamless can this be achieved, and CLOS takes an accelerated approach using intelligent, next-generation features.
With our integrable, managed single platform, CLOS efficiently helps to maximize the use of every available resource to deliver a solution to effectively reduce operational costs. When all features are utilized, CLOS can offer real-time accuracy and reporting that can provide the flexibility to manage last-minute alterations to logistics planning, incorporating third-party application access and integration at secure levels, and making sure that inclusion of commercial partners is not only possible, but remains seamlessly compliant.
The implementation of the CLOS next-generation military logistics solution also delivers optimized functionality planning through Machine Learning and automation of core functions. This strengthens decision-making capabilities, but also provides clear, consistent and up-to-date information flow at all levels, and streamlines systems for critical data protection requirements.
To fully appreciate the benefits of logistical restructure within the US military, systems must be in place to strengthen logistics with a long-term view, and not simply address today’s challenges. When scalability and flexibility are core factors, solutions can be integrated as technology advances. The Machine Learning capabilities of CLOS offer the benefits of ‘forward-thinking’ and an ability to further increase readiness within all aspects of military combat, particularly as pressure increases for multi-location, remote-based operations and communications.
As the military landscape evolves, so too must logistics systems and operations. A-ICE’s CLOS contains highly-advanced, prescriptive analytics algorithms at its core, based on state-of-the-art operations research that includes the latest 3D loading literature benchmarks. We are perfectly placed to help military logistics operations meet the challenges, complexities and compliance requirements faced not only on the battlefields of today, but also those of tomorrow.