Military Logistics Summit

We attended IDGA’s Military Logistics Summit held on June 8-10, 2009 in Vienna, VA. The focus of this year's summit is to support major deployment, re-deployment, and distribution operations. Milcord's presentation entitled Risk-Based Route Planning for Sense and Respond Logistics for the Military Logistics University covered the technology behind our Adaptive Risk-based Convoy Route Planning solution. Our presentation had a diverse audience ranging from logistics contractors in Pakistan to Logisticians at large System Integrators, from high level US Army officers to academic researchers. A logistics contractor posed the question: "I love your risk based route planning system. I wish we had a system like this. Most logistics material are carried by private subcontractors like us (under contract to a Prime like Mersk) in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Even if the Army has this system, it won't do us any good." It was an interesting question that shined a light on the lack of information sharing between DoD and second /third tier military contractors in the supply chain, and generated a nice discussion among attendees.

Another interesting question on our presentation was the concern about the predictability of a route. Minimal distance routes are deterministic and pose a security risk because they can easily be determined by the adversary. In contrast, minimal risk route is not deterministic (changes with events on the field), which gives a better protection against predictability by the adversary. The risk surface (computed per road segment) changes with every incident, intel report, weather, traffic, etc., which, in turn, affects the route minimal risk route.

Another question: "If a bridge is blown down the road, how long does it take the Urban Resolve data set to update itself? " This is an issue that even commercial COTS GPS tools struggle with random events like road closings due to construction. Our current solution gives a manual workaround for such conditions by letting the user define an intermediate way point and  dragging the route away from the bridge. Crowd-sourcing can also help address this issue by arming users with power to dynamically update road availability by adding road blocks on their GPS units.  Crowd sourcing also brings about data integrity issues in that user specified changes would not be put into the database as every soldier would have a different viewpoint.

There were several other interesting presentations and exhibitions. Dr. Irene Petrick's talk on Digital Natives and 4'th Generation Warfare generated an active interaction with the audience.  She presented survey results that compare the value systems of Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, articulated where Digital Natives can add value to warfighting, and pose challenges organizational management. On the gadget front, Safe Ports demoed an eye scanner  based on infrared so it even recognizes you through your sun glasses.