by Major General Larry J. Lust and Brigadier General Mitchell H. Stevenson
The unit’ s redeployment from Bosnia to Louisiana provided an opportunity to test automatic identification technologies.
How does one track roughly 2,400 soldiers from 27 troop-sized units, 2,524 vehicles, 45 helicopters, and 217 container and shop sets-”coming from 7 base camps, crossing 5 international boundaries, and using highway, rail, air, inland waterway, and sea transportation-”from Bosnia to the United States?
In May 1998, this question was answered when the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) redeployed to Fort Polk, Louisiana.
The only visibility achieved on previous unit moves was from point of embarkation to point of debarkation. This type of logistics nightmare has occurred often since the Spanish-American War, as supported commanders commonly have lost both visibility and control of units in transit using existing procedures.
On 7 January 1997, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Logistics) and the Director for Logistics (J4), Joint Staff, established an Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) Task Force (TF). The AIT TF was established to address the lack of visibility common in unit movement and to integrate new and developing technologies to enhance in-transit visibility (ITV). AIT automates the collection and passage of information to interested users to achieve ITV. When AIT data are infused in automated information systems (AIS), the source data are more reliable and easier to perpetuate without further manual entry.
With the use of AIT, such as radio frequency (RF) tags, military shipping labels (new label), linear bar codes, two-dimensional (2D) bar codes, smart cards, and satellite tracking systems, the Department of Defense AIT TF saw a great opportunity to assist the 2d ACR redeploy to Fort Polk while resolving previous ITV problems. The objectives were to-”
Â· Demonstrate ITV of passengers and cargo associated with unit moves using the Joint Operations Planning and Execution System (JOPES) at level 6 detail (each item of unit property book equipment).
Â· Automate and simplify the production of ITV source data and share them with multiple AIS, such as the Global Transportation Network (GTN), Transportation Coordinator Automated Information for Movement System II (TC-AIMS II), Worldwide Port System (WPS), and Joint Total Asset Visibility.
Â· Connect ITV to supported commander in chief (CINC) requirements as described in the time-phased force and deployment data (TPFDD) by inserting the unit line number (ULN) on the RF tag and smart card.
In November 1997, General Hugh Shelton, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Wesley Clark, Commander in Chief of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), accepted the vision of the AIT TF and pushed for an operational prototype to showcase AIT. Four different scenarios were developed. The centerpiece was the unit move of the 2d ACR from Tuzla, Bosnia, to Fort Polk. The EUCOM was designated as the lead for the unit move.
EUCOM goals for the unit move scenario for the AIT operational prototype were to-”
Â· Integrate five AIT media (RF tags, linear bar codes, 2D bar codes, smart cards, and satellite tracking systems) into deployment processes and associated information systems in a unit movement scenario, from origins in the EUCOM area of responsibility to a U.S. destination.
Â· Measure the effects of AIT use on ITV, AIS, and the processes used at logistics nodes and by different transportation modes.
Â· Achieve ITV at JOPES level 6 detail on a unit movement from Bosnia to Fort Polk.
Â· Measure the effectiveness of an advanced fly-away suite of AIT and AIS designed for contingencies at austere locations in Bosnia and at established installations like Fort Polk.
Â· Accelerate the introduction of an AIS (TC-AIMS II) to the European theater. TC-AIMS II version 2.X was used in the operational prototype in conjunction with an enhanced JOPES interface capability, called the Joint Force Requirements Generator (JFRG II), as a single, joint translation tool.
In December 1997, Major General Mike McDuffie, the EUCOM J4, directed Lieutenant Colonel Brian Layer to spearhead this effort as the unit move scenario chief and joint coordinator for AIT and AIS integration.
USAREUR DCSLOG Challenges
On 23 March 1998, EUCOM tasked U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR), to be the EUCOM executive agent for installing and integrating all AIT throughout the European theater. The USAREUR Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (DCSLOG) assumed these responsibilities and assigned them to the Logistics Automation Division (LAD). Dr. Tom Young leads the LAD branch responsible for AIT. The AIT Branch is a mixture of soldiers, Government civilians, and contractors. AIT Branch personnel have extensive experience using RF tags and satellite tracking in Europe, as well as in deployments to Somalia, Macedonia, Haiti, and Bosnia.
USAREUR DCSLOG’ s challenges were numerous, because a unit deployment is normally a busy time. Training on TC-AIMS II and the AIT peripherals had to be planned carefully. Equipment such as RF interrogators was erected in host-nation facilities where there were no communications or electricity. In addition to these challenges, the 2d ACR’ s redeployment date was accelerated by almost a month, which put a strain on the delivery of equipment from technology vendors. The Commanding General of Task Force Eagle, Major General Larry Ellis, wanted to use Bosnian rail lines to transport the cargo and rolling stock from Brcko and Lukovac, Bosnia, instead of convoying to Taszar, Hungary, to use the railheads there.
Preparing for AIT and AIS Integration
In January 1998, AIT Branch and EUCOM personnel made their first trip to Bosnia to survey the nodes to be equipped with RF interrogators. This site survey resulted in the identification of 14 new installations in Bosnia and Croatia that required instrumentation to achieve visibility from base camps through Bosnian railheads and border crossings. Most of these locations were austere and without power. In some camps, the only communication was through mobile subscriber equipment (MSE) and FM radio. The task was to instrument these locations and others at principal travel routes back through Central Europe to the United States.
The milestones (as shown below) were aggressive but achievable. Over the next several months, AIT Branch personnel coordinated continuously with Task Force Eagle; the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC); EUCOM; the 2d ACR; the 21st Theater Army Area Command; the Program Executive Office for Standard Army Management Information Systems (Program Manager for TC-AIMS II); Brown & Root Services Corporation; and U.S. National Support Element personnel on the upcoming mission.
Equipment was tested, site preparation work completed, and power lines laid. TC-AIMS II modules needed to encompass USAREUR-unique forms and AIT data feeds were developed. Interfaces to the AIS had to be verified and tested as well. The AIS incorporated in the test were TC-AIMS II, the Global Command and Control System (GCCS), JOPES, JFRG II, the Consolidated Aerial Port System (CAPS II), and WPS. From those systems, the ITV capabilities of record were the USAREUR regional ITV server, GTN, and Joint Total Asset Visibility.
Automatic identification technologies used in the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment’ s move.
In February 1998, Stan Polonsky, Program Manager for TC-AIMS II, sent a team to Bosnia to train unit movement officers (UMO’ s) on the new system and provide instruction on creating deployment equipment listings (DEL’ s). Four AIT Branch RF interrogator technicians (Hans Hollister, Master Sergeant James Wheeler, John Herron, and Rick Pestian) also were in Bosnia installing RF-interrogator read stations and providing training on the new system.
Unit movement officers received TC-AIMS II training, here at Camp McGovern, Bosnia. On 31 March 1998, the first milestone was met, with all the base camps in Bosnia and the border crossings operational, reporting to the regional ITV server, and visible in GTN. Camp Demi, the most austere base camp, was the site originally designated as the location to test a fly-away capability. It was instrumented and never experienced a problem while reporting RF tags every hour for the next 4 months.
In April and May, members of the TC-AIMS II team traveled to Bosnia to provide basic and reinforcement training to 2d ACR UMO’ s. In May, the TC-AIMS II personnel, with assistance from their AIT Branch partners, supervised UMO’ s in writing their DEL and container data to RF tags, providing the required level 6 detail that makes ITV a reality. These data then were passed to the regional ITV server, allowing anyone with Internet access to trace the location of their supplies on the Internet at http://www.dcslog.hqusareur.army.mil (then select Log.Autom.Div; AIT; RF-ITV).
Meanwhile, back in Heidelberg, Germany, other members of the AIT Branch, led by Sue Durham, were working hard to prepare smart cards that provided visibility of every individual soldier in the deployment. They received data from the 2d ACR S1 office and verified it against a data base compact disk from the Defense Manpower Data Center. Once the data were accumulated, it took only 1 day to put them all onto more than 2,400 smart cards. After the smart cards were validated, the S1 was able to rely on them to ensure the accuracy of the manifest, through every phase and mode of transportation, until the soldiers arrived at Fort Polk. There were times when the smart card team had to physically locate a particular soldier because the unit and the S1 lacked current information.
Deployment of AIT and TC-AIMS II Support
From May through mid-July 1998, TC-AIMS II and AIT Branch personnel worked closely together in Bosnia to provide assistance. This team traveled to each of the 2d ACR base camps to fix problems as they arose, including lack of Microsoft NT support on the networks in Bosnia (NT was the operating system for TC-AIMS II) and the need for modifications to the software. During this period, major crashes occurred with the networks at Comanche and Colt bases, but because of the flexibility in the TC-AIMS II and RF software, data continued to be passed via satellite, MSE local area network (LAN), and other methods.
The smart cards that were issued to the soldiers at the base camps were scanned as the buses passed through Tuzla or Camp McGovern and when th
e soldiers got off
at Taszar. The cards were scanned again as the soldiers boarded the plane in Taszar, an
d finally when they debarked at Alexandria, Louisiana. AIT Branch personnel were at each of these locations to assist with the scanning process and ensure that the manifests were delivered electronically. As an example, when 100 soldiers departed by bus from Tuzla on 7 June, it took only 10 minutes to scan the cards and produce an electronic manifest with 100-percent accuracy.
The 2d ACR Unit Move Scenario
Unit DEL development. The 2d ACR’ s UMO’ s were tasked to update unit DEL’ s in TC-AIMS II. With this system, UMO’ s were able to create and amend data from their deployed locations. When their deployment plans were complete, UMO’ s at troop level forwarded the data through their chain of command (squadron and regiment) to the Task Force Eagle Division Transportation Officer (DTO). At each level, data were verified for accuracy by responsible officers. The DTO then forwarded the DEL to the USAREUR Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans’ Movement Operations Center (MOC), where the data were verified again and edited for submission into JOPES. As movement data were transmitted to the MOC, the same data were sent simultaneously to the 27th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), where they were used to order railcars, buses, trucks, and aircraft.
Translation of movement data to the JOPES TPFDD. The USAREUR MOC used the JFRG II to translate TC-AIMS II unit DEL’ s to the JOPES TPFDD. This was a significant enhancement to the TPFDD development process because, regardless of Service, the data went directly into the TPFDD using a GCCS application at the joint command level. This improved CINC TPFDD development in two important ways. First, it provided the CINC EUCOM with accurate movement requirements in less time. Second, it provided all CINC component commands with a common TPFDD translation tool. While it had been recognized that there was a legitimate need for sharing Service-specific information at the department level, it was not possible previously to provide the TPFDD with unit-level movement data that concurrently supported the CINC’ s planning and execution requirements.
Deployment preparation at unit base camps.
The 2d ACR was dispersed throughout the Sustainment Force’ s Multi-National Division-North Sector at seven base camps in Bosnia (Demi, Dobol, Guardian, Comanche, Eagle, Colt, and McGovern). At each location, UMO’ s prepared for redeployment by creating movement source data with TC-AIMS II. As redeployment plans materialized, the UMO’ s planned convoy and bus movements, developed container manifests, populated RF tags, and printed military shipping labels for their rolling stock and containers using TC-AIMS II and its associated peripherals. For rolling stock and containers, TC-AIMS II produced automated advance transportation control and movement documents. In addition to equipment preparation, USAREUR used the smart cards issued to each 2d ACR soldier to create manifests and track force movements.
Theater Movement Control Operations
Convoy planning-”base camps to Taszar. The DTO and Movement Control Team (MCT) at Tuzla electronically requested and received convoy clearances from the MCT at Slavonski Brod, Croatia, using TC-AIMS II.
Convoy movement-”base camps to railhead. UMO’ s created soldier manifests using TC-AIMS II and smart cards and sent those data to the GTN server. Key convoys included a vehicle equipped with a Defense Tracking, Reporting, and Control Systems (DTRACS) transponder, by which commanders could monitor the convoy’ s departure, progress, and arrival at its destination. Convoy numbers were associated with specific transponder numbers, which correlated positional data with the convoy equipment manifest. The DTRACS transponder populated GTN with data sent via the USAREUR DTRACS server at Friedrichsfeld, Germany.
A soldier applies a military shipping label generated by TC-AIMS II to equipment being shipped by rail.
Container and artillery piece movement-”base camps to railhead. The 2d ACR created RF tags for each unit equipment container and artillery piece. These items were chosen because they most frequently move outside unit convoys. The RF tags were populated using two methods. The primary method was “drag and drop,” by which UMO’ s prepared the manifest on the TC_AIMS II laptop by copying items from a unit equipment file and pasting them to the tag manifest in a Windows environment. An alternate method used by the Regimental Headquarters Troop was to build tag manifests populated from 2D bar codes, which were pre-affixed to the actual equipment and scanned as the equipment was packed in containers.
RF interrogators were installed at the railhead at Brcko, Bosnia.
In both cases, the manifest was created and checked in TC_AIMS II and the tag was populated with manifest information using a peripheral RF tag “write” station connected to the laptop. The containers and artillery pieces were moved to Lukovac and Brcko by supporting truck assets; they passed by RF interrogators at each base camp and at the railhead. Sensitive items were trucked to Bremerhaven, Germany; interrogators along the convoy route indicated the location and progress of sensitive-item unit containers.
Bus movements-”unit base camps to Taszar. Soldiers traveled from base camps to Taszar on buses. The 27th Transportation Battalion published bus schedules they had created using TC-AIMS II. Commanders verified personnel manifests using smart cards, and the manifests subsequently were forwarded by electronic mail to Task Force Eagle. When buses departed, UMO’ s notified Task Force Eagle telephonically, and the MCT reported the departure and arrival information electronically to GTN. Based on TC-AIMS II installation situation reports, the personnel manifest was associated with a bus number in GTN.
Rail movements to the Port of Bremerhaven. The 27th Transportation Battalion reported railcar departures and arrivals using the TC-AIMS II installation situation reports. They created actual rail manifests at the railhead by scanning bar-coded military shipping labels as unit equipment was loaded onto the railcars or by “dragging and dropping” advance transportation control and movement documents into the manifest. When the train departed, the Rail MCT electronically reported train departure, railcar information, and the transportation control and movement documents of all attached equipment to GTN using TC-AIMS II. RF interrogators along the rail route reported the progress of all unit containers and artillery pieces; this information was updated periodically in GTN through the regional ITV server. The MCT at Bremerhaven reported train arrivals to GTN using the TC-AIMS II installation situation reports, which closed out the ground movement phase of the operation.
Unit equipment at the Port of Bremerhaven and Rhine River Terminal. Once the MCT at Bremerhaven reported train arrivals at the port, the equipment was downloaded and accepted into the “strategic system” by MTMC, which scanned military shipping labels and forwarded equipment data to GTN using the WPS. WPS created the ship manifest that was reported to GTN. Helicopters from the 2d ACR were flown to Mannheim, Germany, prepared for ocean transport, and loaded onto barges at MTMC’ s Rhine River Terminal for movement to Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Air movement from Taszar to Alexandria, Louisiana. Personnel of the 2d ACR reported to the Air Terminal MCT at Taszar, where personnel manifests were created using TC-AIMS II. The manifests were confirmed using smart cards and passed through TC-AIMS II to CAPS II. CAPS II associated the manifest with a mission number, and those data were passed on to GTN. The Global Decision Support System recorded actual departures and arrivals of the air missions, which ultimately updated the data in GTN.
Smart cards are used to compile a manifest at Tuzla, Bosnia.
Unit equipment sea
lift from seaports of embarkation to the Port of Beaumont, Texas. MTMC poste
d manifest information and reported ship departures and arrivals in WPS. Those data also were visible in GTN.
United States Movements
Soldier movement from Alexandria to Fort Polk. Soldiers traveled by bus from the airport in Alexandria to Fort Polk. Manifests were closed by scanning individual smart cards. Those data, along with scheduled and planned departure and arrival information, were forwarded from the Fort Polk Installation Transportation Office (ITO)/MCT to the Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) using the TC-AIMS II installation situation reports. FORSCOM passed the data to GTN.
Unit equipment from the Port of Beaumont to Fort Polk. MTMC used WPS to scan military shipping labels as equipment was offloaded from vessels and staged in the port. Convoy manifests were created by MTMC by scanning the military shipping labels on equipment departing the port in convoys. The ITO/MCT at Fort Polk reported arrivals to FORSCOM using TC-AIMS II installation situation reports. In addition, RF interrogators at the port and Fort Polk reported unit container progress.
The First Signs of Success
The first signs of success were virtually instantaneous once the unit move began. Smart card data were being sent to GTN within an hour, level 6 data were visible on RF tags in GTN, and ITV was providing commanders with visibility of their shipments. Unit movement data were entered at the troop level, with DEL’ s passing through the troops’ command hierarchy to the JOPES TPFDD. Troops also could amend and reproduce information in TC-AIMS II that they never could before. One squadron movement noncommissioned officer was quoted as saying, “I wish we’ d deployed using TC-AIMS II. Mistakenly, we’ d left some equipment behind. While we rarely used [that equipment] at Fort Polk, it would have been handy here. If we’ d planned our deployment using TC-AIMS II, that equipment wouldn’ t have fallen through the cracks.”
Brigadier General Samuel S. Thompson III, Commander of Fort Polk, said the smart card “has increased the efficiency in soldier accountability in the deployment process. It is an efficient way to quickly build troop lists and/or manifests, which expedites a unit’ s deployment/redeployment sequence . . . the smart cards made the transition from the airfield in Alexandria back to Fort Polk incredibly efficient. What seemed to take units a whole day in the past (i.e., returning troops from Saudi Arabia) is now reduced to a very few hours. Soldiers, weapons, and equipment were quickly accounted for, which allowed the soldiers to return to Fort Polk and their families with minimal delays.”
Though originally intended to create manifests, the smart card provided additional benefits by helping the S1 office to automate reports and by providing additional capabilities and fields through which they were able to track such things as weapon numbers, messing entitlements, and blood types.
Though primarily used to track sensitive cargo, the DTRACS also was a success, providing 2d ACR soldiers a redundant means of communicating between Eagle Base and the Lukovac railhead.
One of the true highlights of the unit move prototype was TC-AIMS II, which did more than just build DEL’ s. It created military shipping labels, transferred data to the MOC, and produced 2D bar-code labels, transportation control and movement documents, DD 1750 packing lists, freight warrants, rail forms, convoy movement requests, and virtually any report requested by the user. TC-AIMS II data were input into JFRG II, providing an infinitely more efficient and effective data-entry method into JOPES than previously afforded by TC ACCIS and the Computerized Movement Planning and Status System.
An RF interrogator and RF link in Tuzla scan passing equipment and containers.
Some of the strong points of the unit move were the ability to-”
Â· Build two-way interfaces, through which JOPES provided requirements to JFRG II.
Â· Pass requirements to TC-AIMS II without ULN movement data, whereby TC-AIMS II provided the ULN’ s with level 6 data.
Â· Accept source requirements from TC-AIMS II.
Â· Marry source ULN cargo and personnel data and pass the merged plan back to JOPES.
“Movement officers are much more involved with and informed about their deployment when they plan it on TC-AIMS II,” a 2d ACR staff officer remarked.
JFRG II enabled modifications to data in a more timely and efficient manner, on site, without having to send those modifications to FORSCOM for entry into JOPES. Perhaps most beneficial is the fact that one system supports all Services.
AIT worked well in contingency areas where communications and power were minimal. Camp Colt was able to switch from LAN to satellite reporting in 2 hours.
Because UMO’ s can produce source-interactive data and AIT (2D bar codes, linear bar codes, and RF tags) in the unit area or a deployed base camp, the process of creating updates and passing data becomes faster and easier. That allows the deploying unit to concentrate on its deployment and follow-on missions.
Although using AIT requires additional unit-level training, the costs are easily justified by improved coordination, movement, and reduced frustration associated with developing source data for mass unit deployments.
The bottom line: Soldiers in the field were willing and excited, not only about going home, but about something that would make their jobs easier. Though somewhat intimidating at first, this new technology and capability quickly became integral and essential to the performance of their missions.
Major General Larry J. Lust is the J4, U.S. European Command.
Brigadier General Mitchell H. Stevenson is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, U.S. Army Europe.