Ross Stapleton-Gray highlighted reports of massive logistical problems leading up to and during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) at Federal Computer Week and Government Computer News. Further, he pointed out the General Accounting Office report itself, which details the failure of military RFID systems.
“DOD did not have adequate visibility over all equipment and supplies transported to, within, and from the theater of operations in support of OIF. For example, although the U.S. Central Command issued a policy requiring, whenever feasible, the use of radio frequency identification tags to track assets shipped to and within the theater, these tags were not used in a uniform and consistent manner. In addition, units operating in the theater did not have adequate access to, or could not fully use, DOD’s logistics and asset visibility systems in order to track equipment and supplies because these systems were not fully interoperable and capable of exchanging information or transmitting data over required distances. Furthermore, DOD and military service personnel lacked training on the use of radio frequency identification tags and other tracking tools, which also adversely affected asset visibility.”
The report goes on to detail a number of additional logistics failures.
“Hundreds of pallets and containers were backlogged at various distribution points because of transportation constraints and inadequate asset visibility.”
This led to cannibalization of vehicles for spare parts, duplicate orders, late fees associated with leased equipment, poor cargo security, and a $1.2 billion discrepancy between materiel shipped to the theater and materiel acknowledged as received. Problems were also seen in inadequate distribution capability, supplies not configured to meet Army unit requirements, and mismanagement of shipping containers.
Inadequate personnel training, non-interoperable systems, insufficient communications infrastructure, and hasty bookkeeping are blamed for the failures. Troublingly, U.S. troops only had 5-7 days worth of supplies on hand versus an average of 60 days in Operation Desert Storm, more than a decade ago.
RFID News urges its readers to review the report and its conclusions on the lack of asset visibility that occured during Operation Iraqi Freedom.