Air Force, NCMS and Industry Collaborate on Next Generation Expeditionary Logistics Systems
This December’s Air Force Combat Ammunitions Center (AFCOMAC) training program at Beale Air Force Base, Sacramento, CA, is hosting a major National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) Program Event to prove out expeditionary logistics systems deployed under a unique partnership between the United States Air Force (USAF) and Industry. This is part of a 9-month Risk Reduction program sponsored by Air Force Item Master and Air Force Munitions.
AFCOMAC is an Air Force level training center administered by the 9th Munitions Squadron (MUNS), Beale AFB, CA. The mission of the 9th Munitions Squadron is to maximize the combat capability of the USAF by providing full spectrum combat munitions training as a Total Force Integration for all munitions personnel worldwide and ensure the highest level of support to the war fighter. The AFCOMAC training program consists of two separate courses. AFCOMAC provides combat-oriented instruction in Base Support Plan and Expeditionary Site Plan development and large-scale conventional munitions production using mass assembly techniques. A two-phased program provides classroom academics (Phase 1) and an operational exercise called IRON-FLAG (Phase 2) of munitions support concepts and principles based on current Air Force Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures along with Combat lessons learned and Expeditionary Air Force operational concepts. The Senior Officers Orientation course is a 2-day program that provides combat munitions management orientation to majors (O-4 and civilian equivalent) and above in large scale munitions employment planning, production operations, and includes participation in the IRON FLAG exercise.
The systems showcased at AFCOMAC are built upon an IT platform that has been configured jointly by One Network Enterprises (a global provider of secure, multi-party cloud business networks and a long-standing NCMS partner), Veteran Owned Small Businesses, the United States Marine Corps (USMC), and the United States Air Force. The intent of the software is to aid in the enhancement of logistics performance, asset custody management, health/safety/environment/security policy, data quality, and Master Data Management.
When this technology was presented to USAF General Officer leadership four months ago, the order was given to demonstrate the agility of the platform by configuring a user application that fully represented the unique expeditionary training operations at AFCOMAC without sacrificing enterprise principles or strategic governance. One Network leverages Agile Software Development methodology internally and also applies an agile approach to systems deployment and delivery. The logistics application, concept of operations, and agile strategy, were described by Department of Defense (DoD) leadership as “equivalent to the laser guided munitions in its importance to logistics IT – if demonstrated to be feasible.”
Over the past four months, One Network executed on this mission, based on a 1-month sprint schedule and a weekly system deployment schedule. This provided maximum collaboration and continuous feedback from AFCOMAC and other USAF subject matter experts on the configuration of master data and user interfaces.
The end result is an operational validation of the program approach to prove out agile strategy, realistic expeditionary capabilities, high levels of collaboration between functional experts and software configuration activities, and rapid software configuration. Master data used at AFCOMAC, while scrubbed so as not to include classified or other sensitive information, is fully representative of real war time operations.
One Network based its approach on the following strategic imperatives:
1. Getac Tablets and Disconnected Client:
The USAF Munitions Community has fielded “Getac” Windows 10 Tablets with Integrated Barcode Scanners that have been ruggedized and HERO rated. While operating in CONUS, these Tablets operate with 3G/4G SIM Cards on the USAF network, giving them “intermittent” connectivity. Connectivity can be negatively impacted by operating in Reinforced Magazines or by operating in remote locations. While operating OCONUS, these Tablets cannot assume connectivity unless they connect by secure wireless, T1 line, or USB.
Given these connectivity challenges and the desire to “Train as we Fight,” One Network set out to configure its “Disconnected” architecture (optimized over several years through application at USMC) to deploy comprehensive digital capabilities at AFCOMAC.
Getac-enablement allows for “Digital Point of Operation,” wherein the operator manages an entire logistics operation, in real time, without paper – disconnected or connected – while still operating at the “Pace of the Mission.” One Network has designed its applications to meet this requirement while still allowing for the entire operation to switch over to paper if required.
Disconnected capabilities are a natural byproduct of One Network’s Platform-to-Platform-Interface (P2PI) infrastructure, which has been configured specifically for military standards, to include:
- Optimized Packet Size for Secure Radio Transmission
- Store and Forward with Fault Tolerance, N+1 Replication, and Guaranteed Transmission
- Optimized Transmission Type in High Latency, Low Bandwidth Zone
- Optimized Synchronization Protocols for Transactional and Master Data – For example Push/Pull, Aggregates, Correct and Review, Transaction Routing
- Defense Data Standards
Disconnected mobile operations are part of One Network’s core strategy to create a “Digital” or “Cyber” Representation of a “Single Truth” or “Physical Reality.”
2. FIAR – IUID, DLMS, and Audits
This suite of “comprehensive digital capabilities” are tailored specificity to logistics and supply operations in a DoD Context, including those that meet specific mandates to achieve FIAR readiness. Achieving FIAR readiness is complex in itself even in fully connected environments. FIAR readiness is all the more challenging when optimized for disconnected operations.
Key FIAR areas of interest include:
- “Item Unique Identification,” or “IUID,” is an intensive custodial serialization mandate that manages, tracks, and controls at the unique asset level that meets specific mandates from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), and is key to FIAR-readiness. The USAF Munitions Community is adopting an “All IUID” strategy that will uniquely identify the entire supply chain, including missile assemblies, while retaining Lot Control of consumables and fast moving Small, Medium, and Large Caliber munitions. Serialization requires creative user interface design so that operations can continue to move at the “Pace to the Mission” despite the added challenge of managing serials. One Network’s unique approach at AFCOMAC solves this problem out of the box, and is built upon years of field application at USMC and OSD.
- Defense Logistics Management Standards (DLMS), is a comprehensive set of interface message sets that enable information flows between logistics and supply trading partners inside of the DoD and is also key to FIAR-readiness. Every inventory transaction in the DoD must be prepared to send or receive one or more DLMS messages, presenting a real challenge to Disconnected operations. One Network’s IT architecture deployed at AFCOMAC supports DLMS out of the box for both Connected and Disconnected operations. One Network’s unique approach at AFCOMAC is built upon years of application experience with USMC, the Defense Logistics Agency, and OSD.
- Auditability is the cornerstone of a FIAR-ready posture. Transactional and inventory asset ledger data must be complete, verifiable, legitimate, and demonstrate quality and control. One Network’s applications deployed at AFCOMAC meet FIAR auditability standards out of the box for both connected and disconnected operations. One Network’s unique approach at AFCOMAC is built on years of field application at USMC and has been proven in FIAR audits with the USMC Munitions Community.
3. Platform Development Ecosystem
As a part of its collaboration with NCMS, One Network has worked to develop a network of organic engineering resources, and the AFCOMAC effort has been supported by resources from 3rd party Veteran Owned Small Businesses. One Network has also worked to train both Uniformed and Government Civilian engineering resources at USAF. Beyond AFCOMAC, in 2016 the ecosystem has lead the way in developing systems interfaces between USMC, Navy, Army, and Joint systems.
4. Platform Development
Thanks to the power of the One NetworkDefense Core platform, including prior NCMS efforts, all configuration for AFCOMAC is:
- Available to all Platform customers – All User Interfaces, Disconnected Features, Reports, etc,. can be leveraged for any class of supply for similar logistics operation, whether operated by Vendors, Contractors, or Uniformed Logisticians.
- Backwards Compatible – Any upgrades to the IT platform will not break AFCOMAC configurations or future efforts.
- Self Documenting – Through a unique hypertext markup language and a series of documentation tools, Master Data and Software Configuration, along with actual code, automatically represents itself as DoD compliant documentation. When augmentations or upgrades are made, the Documentation automatically regenerates itself.
- Automatically Traced to Requirements – automatic documentation extends also to Test Cases and Software Specification Line Items in a Requirements Traceability Matrix.
- Easily distributed to Disconnected Clients – any updates to software are pushed to Getac Windows 10 machines in a manner that dramatically reduces technical support or field maintenance.
- Responsive to any browser and/or screen size – user interfaces and applications automatically render in very large (TV), large (Desktop), medium (tablet or laptop), or small (handheld) screens, eliminating the need to maintain and support different applications for different device screen resolutions.
- The One Network Defense Core software features have deep roots in US Military and Prime Contractor/Vendor operations in CONUS, European, Central Asian, and Iraqi, theaters, and have been field tested in collaboration with NCMS over many programs and over several years. The One Network Defense Team is uniquely suited to handle the requirements, lexicon, culture, and concerns of the logistics communities of the US Military and their contractors and vendors.
One Network specializes in developing Network Solutions for collaboration in complex value chains, and goes to market across multiple verticals including Defense, Automotive, Consumer Goods, Retail, Food and Beverage, and Healthcare. One Network is currently the supply chain backbone for all USMC Ground Munitions, and supports of US TRANSCOM CONUS Operations.
If you would like to learn more about this this initiative, contact