Secure logistics a key in shift to Afghanistan

Army task force looks to ensure a smooth transition during continuing operations

The Defense Department continues to face a massive logistical problem in supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But with operations ending in Iraq and perhaps scaling up in Afghanistan, the nature of that problem is shifting. And the risks posed for potential loss, misrouting or subversion of the logistics chain are changing with them.

After the logistical nightmares faced by the military after Operation Desert Storm, DOD is working to make sure that it can rapidly return, reset and redeploy equipment from Iraq. The Army has created the Responsible Reset Task Force (R2TF) to ensure that the Army Materiel Command can execute the drawdown of forces from Iraq and “enable resetting the Army in the shortest time possible,” said Army Maj. Gen. Kevin Leonard, operations and plans chief for the Army Materiel Command, in a presentation to the National Defense Transportation Association in September.

“On the materiel side the numbers are just amazing,” said Col. Scot MacKenzie, director of the Army’s Communications and Electronics Command Lifecycle Management Command’s special project office for the drawdown, part of the R2TF. "The amount of property we've put over in-theater would make any corporation's jaw drop.”

Now, the Army is faced with pulling out the huge amount of supply material invested in Iraq as efficiently and securely as possible, MacKenzie said. Thus, defense contractors, one of which is CACI International, are trying to help the Army achieve the rest in a secure manner.

“What we're doing with DOD is making sure we don't do anything to slow it down at the same time we're implementing security into the system,” said Jeff Renard, senior vice president of CACI's Supply Chain and Logistics Innovation Division Group.

Threat levels

The types of threats that supply chain systems face range from the mundane to the malicious. “Anywhere where you're dealing with capabilities and materials that are extremely important in nature for the national defense, you invoke all those same actors that are threat actors in other areas,” said Ian Harper, cyber functional chief architect at CACI. Potential targets include food, regulated nuclear material, military vehicles and parts, and information technology assets, he said.

“I believe it's our response in each case to determine where the weakness is, whether it's internal or external,” Renard added.

CACI has been developing a set of best practices to help both DOD and industry to build security into the business processes of the supply chain for the entire life cycle of systems, Harper said. CACI is addressing international and technical standards, and taking into consideration their interaction with logistics, cyber and information technology components, he said. These are then addressed in management processes that can be repeated across operations, he said.

That includes work to make sure everyone and everything in a supply chain is identifiable and attributable. “Because it's very difficult to determine where weaknesses are introduced into the supply chain, it's very difficult for an organization to determine where that weakest link actually is," Harper said. "And because we haven't focused on that in historical context, we really are kind of behind in trying to identify where those vulnerabilities are within the supply chain.”

CACI used some of that methodology in its work to secure the Navy’s warehouse management operations at Bangor, Wash., home of the Navy’s Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific, Renard said.

“They introduced passive [radio frequency identification] technology into the warehouse system, and integrated that into their network, the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, and tied the warehouse system into [the Common Access Cards] that people use to gain access to various facilities and data,” he said.

The effort involved applying wireless technologies and ensuring that they worked in a secure environment,” he said. Those systems were also integrated with the customer’s enterprise resource management system data. “Using our security framework, we were able to do that in a completely secure environment,” he said. 

About the Author

Sean Gallagher is senior contributing editor for Defense Systems.

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