Sharpening the Ax

Dec 1, 2018 | Defense Transportation Journal

Keynote Speech Summary from the 2018 NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: LtGen John Broadmeadow, USMC, Deputy Commander, USTRANSCOM

The USTRANSCOM mission relies on the end-to-end value chain within our global deployment and distribution network comprised of a system of systems, modes of transportation capacity, and global command and control, said LtGen Broadmeadow. These elements create a strategic comparative advantage for our nation. But, the challenges of tomorrow will require a new approach as problems become more complex, nuanced and interconnected.

Logistics fuels the engine of military power. While the character, methods and processes may evolve, the nature of logistics and the transportation enterprise remain constant. We exist to defend this nation, and in doing so, we keep the fight far from our shores. The joint deployment and distribution enterprise relies on the Services, force providers, and commercial partners. We present options to the nation’s leadership and dilemmas to our adversaries by focusing on war fighting readiness.

Strength is derived from the individuals who make the decision every single day to sharpen the tools of their trade and prepare for battle. It’s the small acts of professionalism that matter, he said. “We must ready ourselves like the blade to be strong and unyielding under pressure while slicing through barriers on our way… Seemingly ordinary and sometimes mundane tasks translate to proficiency, and proficiency translates to capability. Matched with capacity, the capabilities you hone keep this enterprise sharp and ready to fight.”

He continued that adversaries seek to exploit cyber domain vulnerabilities, especially where the military’s networks converge with commercial networks. In response, USTRANSCOM has implemented National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) procedures as a baseline, with this language now included in USTRANSCOM contracts.

Recently, the command examined a security best practice by the financial industry where anonymized corporate data is shared to provide insights into cyber and physical threats to networks. The feasibility of creating a similar model for our enterprise needs to be determined, said Broadmeadow. “Because we all share the same risk to mission, real-time threat sharing ultimately creates another layer of resilience to our operations.”

USTRANSCOM is also working on internal efforts to improve cyber mission assurance, protecting its transactions in a safe, cloud-based environment with built in resilience, redundancy, and security. Harnessing the power of data will allow for a future where artificial intelligence integrates with command and control decision-making cycles.

Broadmeadow expanded that tactically USTRANSCOM has five applications in the cloud already. A prototype enterprise data environment has merged more than five terabytes of data from different sources and a prototype transportation management system operating in USTRANSCOM’s cloud environment, and the command is working its way through migration with the rest of the enterprise. This will underpin and set the conditions for big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Operating within the cloud-based environment will completely revolutionize how the enterprise is managed.

Regarding household goods movements, Broadmeadow described the responsibility to appropriately organize, resource, and execute the family relocation program. He added that the primary challenge with the family relocation process derived from a lack of market capacity. Four lines of effort have been outlined as the way forward: Focus on customer interface information technology improvements; align responsibility, authority and resources across DOD’s stakeholders; establish a 24/7 customer service hotline for service members, increasing quality assurance personnel, and improving the claims process; and improve quality capacity through market expansion and modification of current incentives.

As the command evolves its operations to meet the strategic end-goals of our nation, Broadmeadow did not foresee demand signal decreasing. While the command seeks efficiencies, he underscored that USTRANSCOM is not a business. “We are a global warfighting combatant command. Adversaries intend to damage, deny, and degrade our effectiveness and they’re after more than just our bottom line. As USTRANSCOM continues to leverage commercial providers for vital capacity, we’ll collectively ensure that the mission can be accomplished across the spectrum of contested operations. We must harden our networks, nodes, aircraft, and vessels to defend against kinetic and non-kinetic threats.”

Broadmeadow projected that in the future we will maintain the asymmetric advantage provided by our enterprise and adapt to stay one step ahead of any adversary. This requires all of us to seek out options for resilience in every aspect of our mission. We must use our global network, empowered by commercial partners, to respond to contingency operations to execute global war plans. Resilience within our end-to-end value chain defines our comparative strategic advantage. Regardless of future challenges, it’s the actions we take today that will demonstrate our commitment to warfighting readiness.

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