Defense

July 17, 2013

U.S.-Australia tracking system logistics interoperability

Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

A new logistics tracking system between the United States and Australia will help to ensure faster, more coordinated responses to humanitarian crises and other contingencies while laying the foundation for closer cooperation across the Asia-Pacific region, the senior U.S. Pacific Command logistics director reported.

PACOM, through its U.S. Army Pacific component, and the Australian Defence Force launched the Pacific Radio Frequency Identification System in April, Brig. Gen. Mark M. McLeod reported during a telephone interview from the command headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

The system incorporates technologies commercial retailers have come to rely on to track their goods from the manufacturer to warehouses and into buyers’ hands, McLeod said.

It also leverages capabilities NATO introduced about three years ago with the standup of a network exchange hub that promotes information sharing about supply shipments bound for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The NATO system uses radio-frequency identification to automatically locate and track shipments through ISAF-member supply chains. Nations connected to a routing hub in Luxembourg transmit logistics data to other users, giving the entire supply chain real-time visibility on the shipments.

The Pacific Radio Frequency Identification system introduces this capability into the PACOM theater to support rotational U.S. Marine Corps forces in Darwin, Australia, and expanded military-to-military cooperation across the region, McLeod said.

The U.S. Defense Department has long used barcode technology to monitor the flow of everything from washers and nuts for a particular aircraft to armored vehicles, he said. This gives logisticians the ability to track shipments throughout the transportation process and keep tabs on inventory stocks.

The new system takes this effort a step further, by†using radio frequency identification technology to “read” barcode information on both U.S. and Australian military equipment and supplies. Australian RFID readers recognize the barcodes affixed to U.S. shipments flowing through Australia, then automatically transmits the information to the NATO routing hub. U.S. logisticians can then monitor the flow of equipment or shipments through delivery.

“It gives everybody near-real-time access,” McLeod said. “When an individual supply-line item passes along a tracking device, it is automatically read up into a database and distributed. There is literally just a matter of seconds involved in the transmission of the information to everyone’s servers about where their equipment is.”

The new logistics partnership saves the†U.S. the cost of deploying and installing its own RFID systems in Australia at an estimated cost of about $560,000 over the next five years, McLeod said.

“This is a big win for U.S. and Australian forces operating in the Pacific, McLeod said. “This is ‘Pacific Rebalance’ in action.”

With a U.S. defense strategy increasingly focused on the Asia-Pacific region and expanded U.S. engagement across the theater, the system supports closer U.S.-Australian interoperability during exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and other contingencies, he said.

The system also provides a framework that could be expanded in the future to include more regional allies and partners, he said.

“This is another example of how partner-nation logistics cooperation effectively and efficiently expands military reach and capability in the Asia-Pacific region,” the general added.

Historically, the military has struggled with two primary obstacles to logistics-information technology: incompatible systems that made sharing difficult, and security protocols that limited what information could be shared and with whom.

The since-dissolved U.S. Forces Command came up with an initial logistics information-sharing system about seven years ago, McLeod said. It required users from one country to email information to their partner-nation counterparts, who downloaded the file and uploaded it onto their own system.

“It was a clunky way of transmitting information, and not in real time,” McLeod said. “It depended on how much manpower and how much time you had, so it wasn’t an effective or efficient way of sharing information.”

U.S.†and Australian officials†previously attempted to share logistics information using a direct link between their systems, but†were bogged down by†slow and cumbersome accreditation processes†and servers that had trouble exchanging information. They abandoned the project in early 2011 in favor of the current one, which†leverages NATO capabilities.

“The system is fully operational right now,” McLeod said. “It was turned on in early April, and it is up and running.”

McLeod emphasized the importance of logistics information-sharing, particularly during the U.S. pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.

“Knowing the times and dates when things are going to arrive empowers all the processes that we have in military logistics,” he said. “Efficient and integrated international supply chains aren’t just important to (international retailers). They are critical enablers for warfighters as well.”

This capability will be particularly valuable, he said, in the event that nations need to work together to respond to a natural disaster such as the Operation Tomodachi in Japan.

“We are looking more and more toward our partners and our partner capacity to integrate with us and be more fully interoperable,” he said. “This is one of those empowering enabler technologies that allow us to do that.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Army to launch cruise missile-detecting aerostat at Aberdeen Proving Ground

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez The Army plans to launch an aerostat, part of the “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor,” in late December 2014. The JLENS aerostat will be tethered to the...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan

AF delivers Iraqi F-16s for training in US

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan Iraqi air force captain Hama conducts preflight inspections while inside a new to service Iraqi F-16 Fighting Falcon Dec. 17, 2014, located at the nearby Tucson International Airport...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn

Short-notice: A new way to exercise

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, prepare for an aeromedical evacuation exercise on a KC-135 Stratotanker Dec. 5, 2014, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The operation was executed in supp...
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe

Japan, Australia to provide F-35 maintenance sites in Pacific region

Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe An F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter carrier variant prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 6, 2014. Japan and Australia will be sharing...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Maeson L. Elleman

Hanscom working to provide 5th, 4th gen aircraft common tactical picture

Air Force photograph by SrA. Maeson L. Elleman A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle taxis for takeoff on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 16, 2014. The Space, Aerial and Nuclear Networks Division at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is worki...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Staci Miller

Australian F-35 lands at new home

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Staci Miller The first Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II jet arrives at Luke Air Force Bas, Ariz., Dec. 18, 2014. The jet’s arrival marks the first international partner F-35 to a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>