Aerial Port of the Future (APoF)
Instructor: Michael Courtney, Innovations, Systems and Futures Policy Branch Chief, Air Transportation Division, Directorate of Logistics, Engineering, and Force Protection, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base
Outdated technologies, antiquated infrastructure, and manpower-intensive processes degrade nodal readiness and operational requirements support. The Aerial Port of the Future (APoF) provides innovative and integrated solutions for velocity and flexibility moving people and cargo to posture, sense, and respond logistically against any threat or attack.
Since 1952, aerial port personnel has served as the silent professionals of air mobility, performing tasks including inspecting, processing, and loading passengers and cargo on Department of Defense (DOD) airlift missions; aircraft servicing; and command and control operations. Despite this expansive mission set and the incredible professionalism and dedication of its personnel, the Aerial Port nodal network lacks capabilities needed to support end-to-end supply chain management (SCM), achieve the National Defense Strategy objectives, and implement the Air Force Chief of Staff’s “Accelerate Change or Lose” action orders.
The four main capability limitations are; outdated and insufficient technology to support velocity/rapid response, aging, unconnected Material Handling Equipment (MHE), Mechanized Material Handling Systems (MMHS), and vehicle fleet, reliance on manpower-intensive manual processes, and antiquated facilities and infrastructure limiting global logistics support. Over the past 68 years, many attempts highlighted and sought to correct these issues with mixed results.
The APoF initiative seeks to revolutionize the way personnel, fuel, munitions, and other critical classes of supply are processed and transported through established and expeditionary aerial ports in order to support the velocity of sustainment for the Joint Warfighter. At present, the Directorate of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection (AMC/A4) champion the Air Distribution Enterprise Next (ADEN) as a systematic and deliberate vision encompassing change initiatives, process modernization, infrastructure revitalization, strategic partnerships, enhanced readiness and training, and effective air transportation policy.
These focus areas will enable AMC to fulfill its role as the DOD’s premier global power projection platform in support of the Air Force’s vision to Accelerate Change or Lose. Furthermore, like the air component of USTRANSCOM, AMC will better equip and improve force readiness to support all Joint Forces and Combatant Commands. Under the ADEN strategic umbrella, APoF will also enhance situational awareness with a fusion of artificial intelligence, predictive analysis, and machine learning through the Digitally Optimized Geospatial Tactical Airfield Guide (DOGTAG) suite of applications to achieve a true common operating picture. As an integrated suite of applications, DOGTAG will integrate with platforms in use within DoD. DOGTAG addresses the lack of integration identified in the USTRANSCOM CBA report and will provide a bridge between a Global Transit Visibility system, such as a Transportation Management System (TMS), and operational node processes.
APoF is on a rapid and deliberate journey to seamlessly integrate into joint and coalition multi-domain operations in order to fight and win across contested domains. This journey relies on modernizing our global nodal network to maximize velocity and flexibility in moving people and goods from points of origin to employment locations. APoF will provide the targeted investments in capabilities to defeat acts of aggression and enable the force to be more lethal, agile, and resilient in dynamic operational environments.