Streamlining Mission-critical Logistics

U.S. Air Force building portal to support leaner, more agile supply chain

San Jose, CA  October 16, 2002  For the U.S. Air Force (USAF), supply chain success can literally be a matter of life and death.

"We measure success and failure much differently than civilian organizations," said Air Force Brigadier General Robert Mansfield, Jr. "When we carry out a mission, lives are at stake, and national security is our top priority."

But with the Air Force, like other branches of the U.S. military, facing new, complex mission requirements in the midst of fluid geopolitical events, the USAF is seeking ways to leverage emerging technologies to transform its supply chain into a competitive advantage.

With that in mind, the Air Force is embarking on a project to build a supply chain portal that it hopes will help this branch of the military become a more agile force capable of moving personnel and equipment to nearly any point on earth rapidly and efficiently to address increasingly complex mission requirements.

Known as Supply Chain Portal-Air Force (SCP-AF), the portal, being built on solution provider BEA's WebLogic Enterprise Platform, is being designed to manage the supply chain that supports nearly 400,000 men and women in the Air Force.

Of course, instead of moving widgets to market, SCP-AF, currently in a pilot phase, is intended to help the military move items ranging from fuel to ammunition to replacement parts for aircraft and weapons systems.

"The world is getting smaller, threats are more unpredictable and information has become as valuable a commodity as any tangible asset," Mansfield said. "The SCP-AF portal has the potential to reshape Air Force logistics, allowing fewer people to move more resources around the globe in a more timely and mission-appropriate fashion than paperwork and phone calls could ever enable."

Technology solution provider ASD Global is developing the portal in conjunction with the Department of Defense and the USAF. James Eccleston, president of ASD Global and a former assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for logistics and supply chain integration, said the portal, powered by the BEA solution, would provide the flexibility and extensibility the Air Force needs to enhance its logistics apparatus.

"The portal we're building on BEA has the potential to link military and commercial parts providers directly to the end users, shaving days or even weeks off fulfillment schedules," Eccleston said. "It will be designed to expedite delivery of materials to forward, temporary military positions and to link supply chain and operations systems in real time to improve decision making and mission success."

Mansfield noted that the Air Force has consistently sought to apply technology to improve readiness and efficiency. "That's been a constant since our founding in 1947, and it's more important today than at any time in our history," the general said, adding "It's exciting to see commercial Internet technologies advance to a point where they can play a meaningful role in national defense."

For more information on how the U.S. military and other branches of the federal government are using technology to streamline their acquisition processes, see "e-Pluribus Unum: Uncle Sam Wants 'e,' Or Does He?" in the June/July issue of iSource Business.