2015-04-14 By Robbin Laird
Logistics is certainly the dark art or science of military capability.
Indeed, one problem facing broader understanding of the centrality of logistics, notably expeditionary logistics in support of joint or coalition operations, is that the crucial role of logistics in operations is not viewed by politicians and politics as a strategic centerpiece of effective capabilities.
It clearly is.
In recognition of this missing piece, Murielle Delaporte, the co-founder of Second Line of Defense, added the key noun Operational to the title of her support and logistics magazine (Soutien, Logistique Défense Sécurité Opérationnels).
With coalition operations becoming so predominant for national militaries, and those operations frequently expeditionary in character, it is essential that more effective logistics approaches be put in place.
And when added to the evolving environment, the operation of those forces with a number of common multi-national systems ranging from C-17s, to F-35s, to Eurofighters, to A400Ms, to KC-30As, it is clear that parts sharing and shared sustainment approaches are very capable of being put in place.
But Rome was not built in a day, and certainly that phrase is truly accurate with regard to the perpetual effort to reform logistics practices.
What is clear, is that a global company with significant local footprints fits the dynamics of change, if MoDs can work through their nationalistic proclivities to leverage global production, operations and sustainment opportunities.
Fujitsu is such a company.
It has presence in several countries, but clearly the very strong base in the UK and Australia coupled with the changing dynamics of Japanese defense, whereby the Japanese government is encouraging and supporting Japanese companies to collaborate worldwide in defense, provides a window of opportunity for Fujitsu in the logistics area.
Another trend line works in favor of such a company, namely the growing role of IT, transparency in parts supply and the need to build in security into IT.
Fujitsu is a global leader in secure cloud computing and its core capabilities in this area can be drawn upon as the company looks to shape global logistics support capabilities.
During my recent visit to the United Kingdom to visit the new large deck carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, I met with Tim Gibson and Eric Bownes of Fujitsu defense, both based in the United Kingdom, and discussed the evolving approach.
In this interview, Tim Gibson described the evolving approach and in the follow up interview with Eric Bownes, the focus was upon implementing the approach as expressed in what Fujitsu calls its Global Defense Initiative.
Tim Gibson is Vice President of Defense and National Security in Fujitsu UK.
According to a biography taken from Tech UK:
Since June 2011, Tim Gibson has managed the Defence & National Security business in the UK&I and leads Fujitsu’s Global Defence Initiative to accelerate the growth and development of Fujitsu’s worldwide Defence and Security Capability.
Tim Gibson started his role in the industry in 1979 and has had extensive roles in ICL and Fujitsu as a Managing Director, sales, sales management and international business across Europe and the Middle East.
Prior to his current role as Executive Director for D&NS he was involved in the management of Fujitsu Group’s global major deals and the development of new and innovative cloud based businesses. Before that he was the Director of Offshore Development for Fujitsu Services, responsible for the development and delivery of the company’s offshore strategy.
Question: What is Fujitsu UK defense logistics focus of attention?
Gibson: We have been around for some time, more than 50 years.
We have long standing relationships with UK MoD and with prime contractors in the UK.
In particular, we have worked in messaging and top secret systems.
And we have migrated similar defense approaches into Australia as well from the UK.
The change in Japan with regard to defense highlights the opportunity to take our work and merge it more generally with the company in shaping a global business.
Fujitsu in Japan has built up a large defense business, and we’ve now seen synergies between all our different elements of our business.
In the 26 countries Fujitsu operates in, we have developed, in three of them, our core defense business.
But these businesses have been built as silos; the challenge is to cross operate and to shape global integrated solutions.
Everyone’s defense budgets are under pressure.
Everybody’s looking at standardizing, and we’re suddenly seeing a market, we think, where the interoperability between countries on common platforms means they will want common support models and common infrastructures and on a global basis.
For us that’s a convenient piece of timing about where we were thinking about how we would try to build a more globalized defense business and take best of breed solutions, whether that’s from Japan, or Australia, or the US or the UK, and apply those business solutions in a consistent way across all the countries we operate in.
We’ve seen that a lot particularly around things like logistics and munitions support where people fundamentally do the same business process, so they need the same sort of supporting technologies.
Question: Fujitsu is a well-known global IT company.
And it has significant global presence in the IT and IT security business, notably as a leading cloud computing company.
Is this a core strength you hope to draw upon in moving forward with your global approach to logistics?
Gibson: It is.
The secure cloud computing capabilities can be leveraged going forward as we provide support to expeditionary forces operating in a coalition setting.
Currently, we do a lot of work in the maritime defense and security space in Australia, Japan and the UK.
We do a lot in things like high-grade military messaging, above top-secret applications in intelligence, munitions support, logistics support space. As well as doing a lot of general infrastructure support.
We support UK MOD wherever they go in the world where they have defense infrastructure. We’re operating always in every operational zone they’re in whether that’s Afghanistan or the Falklands.
It would make sense to leverage the regional cloud computing capabilities, which Fujitsu has in place which provides the foundation for a global approach.
Being truly global is an advantage because Fujitsu operating in a 100 plus companies directly with a fully-fledged Fujitsu business means you got a footprint on the ground to give you that global support model, so we can offer service in a consistent way pretty much anywhere the allied forces go.
And we can mix and match between global and local markets to get the most cost effective solution for the customer.
And with a new program like F-35 which is clearly looking at global support solutions both to save money and to provide more timely support to deployed forces.
Question: There is a clear trend to build a number of core multi-national, multi-mission platforms, wouldn’t make sense to build global support solutions as well?
Gibson: It is crucial to overcome the national stovepipes to unlock value for the defense customer.
All the allied defense ministries or departments and all the platform suppliers are looking at how they can optimize their sustainability route, the repair loop, just the amount of money that’s dead money tied up in the system that none of them can afford anymore.
They do want to have that part available wherever the plane breaks down anywhere in the world pretty much instantly.
But, without all the overheads of every one of them having them sitting in their own warehouses back on their national territory.
Why fly a part from the UK to the Middle East, if that part can be provided locally by cross-supporting supply arrangements?
But this will work only with a very transparent IT supply system with the kind of accurate and timely information, which can be provided to the deployed forces.
This requires edge solutions to sustainment, and we are building up our capabilities in this area, that is one reason we bought GlobeRanger.
Question: It is also a question of the fit between the evolving approach to warfare and the potential for logistics transformation.
How do you see this fit?
Gibson: We are shifting from a concept of expeditionary warfare whereby we take national kit to the fight to coalition warfare where we show up to work with others to engage in the fight.
Pooling resources for combat and support is a core requirement but will not happen without global logistics solutions.
It will be warfare as part of a coalition of nations sharing common platforms, common communications, and trying to optimize their logistics channels.
Everybody is trying to make money going further and be more effective and more efficient.
And, that’s about having the right parts in the right place at the right time, and being able to move things around in a much more flexible way than is currently available with legacy approaches which are still very, very stove-piped.
And there are truly simple solutions, which can provide for significant capability enhancers.
Why fly water into an operational area if you could provide for it locally. But you need pre-arrangements with suppliers in the region of interest and good and reliable information about numbers, stockpiles and delivery routes.
All of that information can be delivered to decision makers by systems we are building now.
Question: And isn’t there is also a security issue?
Gibson: Having a more effective logistics management system at the point of operation is crucial to security of forces going forward.
We don’t want to be Quartermasters for Terrorists.
Editor’s Note: Below is a Case Study of Fujitsu Supporting UK MoD in Germany:
The challenge The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) needed to communicate securely between 33 military sites in Germany as well as overseas and within the UK.
The contract in Germany was an addition to the existing Defence Fixed Telecommunications Services (DFTS) in the UK.
This is one of the most successful PFI contracts, covering 230000 phone and data users at 1600 sites in the UK.
DFTS is on course to save more than £700m for the MoD since contract let in 1997.
At the time when this contract work commenced, BT identified Fujitsu as a partner to support its operations in Germany.
A relationship has existed for some time between BT and Fujitsu to maintain DFTS services.
Due to the success of this, BT decided to expand the relationship to include all of the services supported by the DFTS contract in Germany.
The necessary contract was signed between BT and Fujitsu and the operation in Germany was expanded to cover the support and performance requirements.
For a look at the basic Fujitsu approach to defense support see the following: