Supporting TRANSCOM


No More Iron Mountain

An Interview with Tom Goudreau, Director Business Development, Information Systems and Global Services, Lockheed Martin

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Source: Lockheed Martin, April 18th, 2010

SLD: Normally logistics and sustainment really don’t receive a lot of attention within the strategic debate, but clearly Afghanistan and Iraq have elevated the importance of these questions.  Will there be more attention to these issues moving forward?

Tom Goudreau: I think there will from two perspectives:

  • One is there has been an ongoing strategic discussion about logistics, for no other reason than the operations and maintenance expense as a percentage of the Defense Department Budget continues to grow.
  • And that growth, in some ways, continues to put a lot of pressure on the recapitalization of the services.

So whether DoD wants to buy additional equipment like MRAPs or if they want to refresh and modernize tactical fighter aircraft, continued growth in the operations and maintenance budget has to be addressed.  And so there continues to be an ongoing discussion about how to control costs and be more efficient without jeopardizing the service and support to the folks performing the mission.

SLD:  I’m looking at General McNabb’s presentations of his command, the TRANSCOM, I note that one of the key emphasis that he puts on is what he calls transforming distribution and the importance of asset visibility as really the cornerstone for really modernizing how TRANSCOM operates.  And I know Lockheed plays a key role in that effort, could you provide some insight with regard to the general idea that McNabb is focusing on and Lockheed’s role in kind of supporting that effort?

Tom Goudreau: There is no doubt that asset visibility and supply chain visibility are an important component of controlling bubbles in the supply chain.  If you go back to earlier conflicts in the Second World War, Vietnam or even the first Gulf War, the military tends to have a process that they need something, they ask for it, they don’t get good feedback on what is coming and so they order it again.  And then you end up having too many of the things you already have and maybe not enough capacity to get the things you need into theatre.  And so giving everybody that awareness of where everything is at and when things are going to arrive really does prevent that from happening to the extent that it used to in the past.

SLD: I note that you have several contracts supporting TRANSCOM’s work in this area.  Have those largely come from the acquisition of Savi and then carrying that Legacy capability forward or is this a new effort?

Tom Goudreau: This is an heritage Lockheed Martin started in the mid-1990’s leveraging our expertise working with the defense planning community on command and control systems.  Savi certainly has added more technology and perspective on tools to equip items and collect more information about things in transit.

SLD: So it basically was a strategic effort that you already had underway and Savi just enhanced your capability to deliver in this strategic area.

Tom Goudreau: Correct.

SLD: Could you talk a little bit to the core contracts here, the Global Transportation Network and the whole Integrated Data Environment (IDE) Global Transportation Network (GTN) Convergence program (IGC program): what is the main focus of all that and what is the role of Lockheed Martin in all of that?

Tom Goudreau: In the case of the Global Transportation Network, that’s the mission system TRANSCOM uses to provide asset visibility for all the things that TRANSCOM is moving around the world.  And the system has improved over time and become more comprehensive as far as an enterprise system, aggregating all of that distribution transaction activity information in a meaningful presentation of information for customers.

DLA in the 1990’s took responsibility for all DoD warehousing.  And, in fact, operating those warehouses means that they do the majority of shipment preparationand physical dispatching of shipments than many in the defense supply chain.

DOD did designate TRANSCOM as the distribution process owner and the DLA director and the TRANSCOM commander jointly committed to move forward with a program called IGC, short for Integrated Data Environment (IDE) Global Transportation Network (GTN) Convergence.  This program would like GTN and DLA IDE supply data joining DLA’s supply and warehouse management data with US TRANSCOM’sdistribution management data.

SLD: And IGC exists today.

Tom Goudreau: IGC does exist today.  It’s in the process of expanding its operational user base, but the major event coming this year is the retirement of GTN.  The team is on track to transition every GTN user to become  an  IGC user as of  September 2010.

SLD: So there’ll be a common data system and a common concept of operations, is that the idea?

Tom Goudreau:Correct.

SLD: IGC’s supposed to basically synchronize all the elements of the logistics system and that’s the strategic objective for this effort?

Tom Goudreau: Correct.  Having  a single system of record for both supply and transportation allows supply chain stakeholders to effectively coordinate.  IGC precludes logisticians from having a DLA system that has data coming from different locations and then a TRANSCOM system providing similar, but different,  data.  They deserve and accurate perspective on the status of materials moving into theatre and  the availability of materials.

SLD: So common metrics and common data are meant to support an enterprise solution to managing the assets, while inventory of assets – so that you know where they are in the world – are aimed to have a much more accurate view of what’s where and what could be available from different global warehousing locations.

Tom Goudreau: Right.  I think metrics also give you a sense of where you have choke points.  TRANSCOM’s been keenly aware of the issues getting product from the shore into Afghanistan, whether it’s from Karachi up through Pakistan by road, whether it’s been our airlift assets and the availability of airlift, flying things into Afghanistan or the most recent initiative, which is basically to create a northern distribution network that really would handle a lot more volume more safely and securely into Afghanistan.  So the metrics not only tell you what’s going on, but it also tells you what’s the limiting factors are in the distribution process.  It doesn’t do  any good to add capacity here in the U.S. if it’s not able to increase the responsiveness in theatre and vice versa.

SLD: Doesen’t it suggest that the coming up of the northern distibution network in Afghanistan, coupled with the air movement network, is really kind of a test case or a challenge to involve the new system?

Tom Goudreau: Right.GTN today does track all three modes of shipping.  So they do have the tools to coordinate and track shipments and make effective decisions about where to expanding the distribution capacity.

SLD: What’s Lockheed’s role in helping support the GTN system and TRANSCOM and DLA?

Tom Goudreau: We both maintain and support the systems.  So, if there are operational issues with the software, we support users to troubleshoot and determine whether it’s a user error or software error.  We also manage and support all of the interfaces between GTN and the 30-plus systems that send it data on a daily basis.  And then, of course, we ensure that the system has the capacity and technologies to absorb all that information in real time and responsibly.

SLD: So it’s a software development as well as data management support that you were talking about?

Tom Goudreau: We perform the actual systems support in a data center that’s operated by the government.  We also perform software maintenance, software support,  data integration and data quality management.

SLD: The Afghan mission will provide a new set of challenges to the efficiency of this overall system but also validates the need for such a system.

Tom Goudreau: Correct.

SLD: And your sense of the future evolution of both the network and perhaps Lockheed’s role in supporting that work, what would that be?

Tom Goudreau: I think the next step for the system is to extend the richness of information on the supply side of the supply chain, so that DLA’s purchasing activity, direct vendor delivery activity, warehousing and allocating activity is better tracked and aligned with the distribution process.  A lot of that additional information right now is not visible in the IGC system.  Rather than relying on someone having to send inquiries to DLA and ask, the system could be enhanced to integrate that data into IGC so that the user can see it all on a dashboard.  And again, you can collect a richer set of metrics to ensure that you have balanced execution.

SLD: My own view is that this Afghan mission, the Logs and Sustainment Mission, is just very expensive and very demanding, so the ability to be more effective here is going to be absolutely essential not only to the success of the mission, but the ability to reduce the pressure on the recapitalization accounts.

Tom Goudreau: Right, the other challenge I think we have with Afghanistan, more so than we did with Iraq, is the need to be a responsible, multi-national partner.  And so again, we want to do what’s efficient for ISAF as well as the U.S. forces and where our allies and ourselves can pool resources or balance what we do so that we can be efficient as a multi-national force.  It’s an ongoing discussion as well.  There are places where U.S. forces are providing support, whether it’s commodities, construction materials, food, fuel, ammunition, and partsto the NATO force in Afghanistan.  We want to be able to give our NATO allies both awareness and understanding of what they can rely on and then vice versa, there are things that the NATO forces are providing to support the operation there, and we want to be able to share and collect data from our allies as well.

SLD: Well, that obviously puts a significant pressure on developing common metrics and common data protocols, I would assume.

Tom Goudreau: Correct.


***Posted on May 21st, 2010