This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. This paper explores the advances in automatic identification technology, specifically radio frequency identification, and seeks to exploit these capabilities for use in the Department of Defense (DOD) supply chain. Using technological trends, a thorough literature review, and the opinions of experts, the paper compares current technology to a 2035 requirements forecast to identify capability gaps. The end goal is logistics situational awareness, whereby the DOD has the ability to provide end-to-end visibility throughout its supply chain and can rapidly mobilize, deploy, sustain, and redeploy forces in support of national security objectives.
A common axiom in military circles is that "amateurs study strategy, but professionals study logistics." Throughout history, wars have been won or lost depending on a nation's ability to support and sustain a fielded force. Just ask the Nazis, who, during World War II, could not sustain the German war machine because of Allied destruction of logistical lines. The lessons to be learned today, though similar, are attenuated because of advances in technology, a globalized world economy, and interdependencies of nations waging war. Likewise, in a resource-constrained environment, nations and companies are "looking for ways to cut costs, improve quality, increase efficiencies and enhance their competitiveness." It is no different for the Department of Defense (DOD), especially in the area of global mobility and combat support. In fact, it is safe to say that logistics situational awareness is a critical enabler of global mobility and will dictate whether countries survive in the future strategic environment. Today, the logistics tail of the DOD is ripe for improvement. Efficiencies in the daily movement of personnel, cargo, and equipment will effect large returns on investment. Most importantly, the ability to provide end-to-end visibility throughout the DOD supply chain will permit forces to rapidly mobilize, deploy, sustain, and redeploy in support of national security objectives. This paper surveys the current automatic identification technology (AIT) capabilities, forecasts the 2035 requirements using environmental scanning and interviews, identifies the capability gaps, and provides inputs for an AIT implementation road map. The key question is, how will the DOD leverage AIT and help optimize the visibility of assets in the DOD supply chain for operations in 2035? DOD investments in AIT will promote efficient logistics operations, streamline supply chains, provide in-transit visibility, and enhance situational awareness to enable rapid global mobility, agile combat support, and power projection for the DOD in 2035.