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Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations (2014)

Chapter: 9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy

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Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
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9

Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy

The committee did not develop a logistics investment strategy as called for in the statement of task. The assumption was that the G-4 had a current strategy that could be used as a basis for the committee to develop one that would include potential new investments. Part way through data gathering the committee learned that such a strategy does not exist. The programs that impact logistics are spread across the Army in many programs, many of which are outside the purview of the G-4. For example, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) has a 30-year strategic research and development (R&D) plan that includes programs that will impact logistics, and would be an important part of developing a logistics R&D strategy. Developing a credible strategy will require careful coordination with other staff elements and Program Executive Offices that have responsibility for programs that have impact logistics, and for significant analysis of these programs. The committee was not structured to carry out such an analysis and was not given access to information concerning potential force structuring and contingency scenarios or other data with the level of resolution required for such an analysis. To best assist the G-4 in developing a strategy, the committee focused on identifying areas of greatest payoff for the Army and in offering advice as to how such a strategy should be developed (a roadmap, in Tables S-2 and 9-1).

SETTING AN AZIMUTH

Science and technology (S&T) and R&D efforts in support of reducing the logistics burden and improving the efficiency of the logistics system on the battlefield are found in programs across the entire Army. For the most part, the principal efforts that would drive reductions in the logistics burden are found in S&T and R&D programs for major Army systems and are essentially carried on without full consideration of the impacts and consequences of programmatic decisions on logistics. There are some S&T and R&D programs in support of logistics, but these are essentially unique efforts that have come about from a specific driving action and that are not part of an overall logistics strategy.

Finding 9-1. There is no explicit Army investment strategy to guide efforts that would reduce the logistics burden of the Army in the field and that would guide nonlogistics efforts that greatly affect the logistics burden of the Army in the field. Without such a strategy, the Army G-4 and the Army sustainment community are unable to effectively influence critical decisions in science and technology and research and development.

The committee reviewed many S&T and R&D technologies that influence the logistics burden. It appears that reduction of the logistics burden is for the most part a secondary consideration. The committee did not see evidence of any formally established logistics-related research objectives that, taken together, would form an Army strategy for reducing the logistics burden. The only possible exception to this is the Joint Operational Energy Initiative, discussed in Chapter 3. Without clearly defined logistics-related objectives, the reduction of the logistics burden becomes something to be

Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×

accomplished only if it does not interfere with the other more formally established objectives of an R&D program. Clear objectives must therefore be established along with a commitment for the funding needed to meet them. If funding becomes unstable or the objectives are frequently changed, then the continuity and success of any logistics R&D investment strategy will be compromised. In this event, it is unlikely that the objectives will be met and the R&D funds could turn out to have been wasted.

An important consideration when developing an S&T and R&D investment roadmap is the amount of time it will take to reap the benefits of investments. Since funds are not unlimited, their expenditure needs to be evaluated to determine the optimal return on investment for the government. For example, if a program has significant S&T or R&D costs but could produce significant results quickly, it should be given higher priority than longer-term S&T or R&D efforts with unknown return. Making these decisions will require the availability of adequate analytical talent and resources. This is discussed at length in Chapter 6, with accompanying findings and recommendations. If the government establishes a clear, well-defined, and stable roadmap, then a company is more likely to invest in S&T and R&D that will address government objectives because its investment will clearly have the potential to provide a return as the government moves forward with procurement once the S&T or R&D efforts have been completed.

Without clear objectives and monitoring of the success in achieving them, the Army G-4 and the broader logistics community are unable to either influence or track the success of efforts to reduce the logistics burden or to improve logistics efficiencies. The committee does not suggest a realignment of program responsibilities. Rather, it suggests the establishment of an Army logistics strategy, framework, and objectives that would enable senior Army leadership to understand the operational implications of decisions impacting the Army logistics burden and the life-cycle trade-offs.

The committee also believes that the Army logistics S&T and R&D effort is influenced by the activities of the other Services and Department of Defense (DoD) components as they develop programs and systems that parallel or support those within the Army, and that this is appropriate. Efforts across the DoD to improve operational energy, increase joint logistics efforts, and the other Services’ efforts to improve the effectiveness of their logistics and operational activities have definite impacts on what happens within and to the Army. The committee was impressed by the close relationship between several Army efforts and those of the Marine Corps to address movement of supplies on the battlefield. As was found in the report Reducing the Logistics Burden for the Army After Next: Doing More with Less (NRC, 1999), increased lethality and accuracy of other Service weapons can substantially reduce the needs of the Army on the battlefield. Deeper penetration into the forward area by the Defense Logistics Agency also influences the needs of the Army. All Army plans for movement are tied closely to the capabilities of the Air Force, the Navy, the support contractors, and U.S. Transportation Command. As resources shrink and the need for Jointness increases, it becomes incumbent on the Army to ensure that its efforts to reduce logistics burdens and increase logistics efficiency are tied closely to the efforts of other members of the DoD team. Little attention has been paid to identifying and integrating the long-range S&T and R&D of other members of the DoD into the Army.

Finding 9-2. There is no explicit effort by the Army logistics community to closely monitor the science and technology (S&T) and research and development (R&D) activities across other Department of Defense components, or to capitalize on the S&T and R&D successes in those organizations and to integrate any new capabilities into considerations of possible future joint logistics environment.

Recommendation 9-1. The Army, through the G-4 and with the support of the Combined Arms Support Command, should develop, staff, publish, and annually update an Army strategy for science and technology and research and development that clearly defines the long-range objectives for Army logistics, the programs that will influence the attainment of these objectives, and the actions that will be taken to ensure the close integration of Army logistics enhancement activities with those of the Joint and DoD-wide community.

Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×

As indicated in Chapter 6, this committee, like the committee that wrote Reducing the Logistics Burden for the Army After Next: Doing More with Less (NRC, 1999), is very concerned about the lack of analytical support for the Army logistics community and the resultant inability of this community to effectively quantify the value of reductions in logistics burdens within the logistics community. This committee is also very concerned about the lack of the Army’s ability to coordinate with those outside the Army logistics community regarding the impact of changes in their systems on the logistics burden, especially given previous recommendations that it should deal with this problem. Development of an Army logistics S&T and R&D strategy will require a high level of analytical support and the enhancement of tools such as the 2008 Air-Ground Distribution Computer-Assisted Map Exercise. A strategy cannot be developed without such support.

The committee also believes that for the strategy to be effective it should include specific quantitative objectives whose attainment can be measured, and that attainment of these objectives should be the mission of the Army as a whole and not just the logistics community. Progress requires quantitative objectives. The development of standards and quantitative objectives tied to those standards has proven successful in the design of energy systems for equipment ranging from vehicles to aircraft to generators. An example of a quantitative objective would be this: By 2025 reduce the daily resupply tonnages to the Brigade Combat Team, the Fires Brigade, and the Aviation Brigade by 20 percent while also eliminating from the force structure the distribution assets that currently resupply these brigades.

Once an R&D strategy with clearly defined objectives is established it must be followed by plans to carry out the activities required to achieve these objectives. Such plans create a roadmap of actions and required resources, responsibilities, and time lines. Simply establishing objectives does little to ensure progress.

Finding 9-3. Establishing specific, quantitative objectives is an effective tool in any successful science and technology and research and development strategy. This needs to be followed by a roadmap of actions and required resources, responsibilities, and time lines.

Recommendation 9-2. A strategy for Army logistics science and technology and research and development should include specific objectives for the reduction of the logistics burden. It should also include a roadmap laying out the responsibilities and actions the overall research and development community needs to take to ensure that the strategy objectives are accomplished.

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF INDUSTRY WORK

In many of the areas of interest to the Army, such as autonomous vehicles, fuel efficiency, in-transit visibility, water source development, and modeling and simulation, private industry is actively engaged and, in many cases, ahead of military R&D. Because it is difficult for private industry to surmise the direction the Army will go with an R&D program and the likelihood of a program being funded, the needs and interests of the Army are frequently not given the consideration they otherwise might. In some cases private industry views Army R&D as competing with industry R&D activities. If proper relationships are established, partnership efforts could produce results for both groups more quickly.

Finding 9-4. The Army would benefit from monitoring and leveraging industry work on technologies and systems that would reduce logistics burdens.

Recommendation 9-3. When developing the science and technology and research and development strategy and the related roadmap, the Army should identify and include areas for potential industry-military partnership, whereby progress by one party will accelerate progress by the other.

Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×

IMPLEMENTING LOGISTICS S&T AND R&D

In conducting its data gathering, the committee was surprised by the great number of R&D efforts under way and, among them, the number of programs that have been under way for many years without moving from S&T or early R&D phases to fielding. As resources diminish, spreading the residual resources across this large family of activities will further constrain the ability to move ahead with the efforts deemed to be the most valuable. While continuing to move ahead on competing solutions within a program area does ensure that eventually the best solution will probably be found, doing so may also prevent the fielding of systems that might be of immediate utility. Even if the fielded system failed to meet all of its requirements, its use might well identify requirements that had never previously been considered and result in modifications or developments that could quickly be accomplished. For example, the Army is entering a period where it no longer makes sense to rely on bottled water for its troops. Several programs are under way to take advantage of field sources to provide water to the forward elements of tactical units, but none are moving into full or even limited production pending the results of even more research. If forces must deploy in the immediate future, they should have one of the systems that are now under evaluation available to them. Decisions have to be made, even if it appears to some that a later decision might have better results.

Finding 9-5. Many logistics-related science and technology and research and development programs seem to be stuck in continual development without proceeding to the field. Faced with diminishing resources and the need to field equipment to meet current and future demands, waiting until the perfect solution is discovered is no longer a feasible approach.

Recommendation 9-4. The Army should work to rapidly identify the logistics-related science and technology and research and development programs that best support current and projected needs and adequately fund them to ensure fielding sooner rather than later. Where major breakthroughs could occur in the future, low-level science and technology work should also continue.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT

The committee’s priorities for R&D investments are given in Table 9-1 and represent the professional judgment of the committee in assessing the technologies behind the technology-based recommendations in the report. High priority investment areas represent a coalescence of a promise of a substantial reduction in logistics burden and/or a reduction in resource demands and a committee judgment that the programs are achievable within the next decade or sooner and meet an immediate operational need identified by the Army. However, these priorities are closely tied to the force structure the Army chooses or is directed to implement.

REFERENCE

NRC (National Research Council). 1999. Reducing the Logistics Burden for the Army After Next: Doing More with Less. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×

TABLE 9-1 Road Map and Areas to Focus Logistics S&T and R&D Efforts

Technology Development Area Research Area Logistics Area Goal
High Priority—High return and recognized feasibility

Adaptive Engine Technology Development

Accelerate the Improved Turbine Engine Program Fuel and Power Reduce fuel requirements

Alternative engine for the Ml Abrams tank

Investigate alternative engines or techniques to improve efficiency Fuel and Power Reduce fuel requirements

Autonomous re-supply convoys

Refine technologies to provide reasonable cost autonomous leader-follower convoy Vehicles for non-tactical movement Mobility Reduce troop and equipment risk and burden in convoy operations

Small unit water supply

Accelerate R&D and fielding of platoon and squad water sets Water Provide point of need water supply

Micro-grids and smart-grids

Accelerate R&D and fielding Fuel and Power Maximize energy efficiency

Low Ammo Demand Weapon System

Accelerate R&D and fielding of High Energy Laser-Mobile Demonstrator (HEL-MD). Ammunition Reduce Ammunition Demand

Unmanned aircraft and precision parachute resupply

Refine technologies to support cost efficient aerial supply operations Mobility Remove dependency on ground vehicles in critical areas

Improved sea mobility

Complete and deploy Maneuver Support Vessel (MSV)-Light; develop MSV-Medium and Heavy concurrently Mobility Improve sea-borne Army logistics support
High Priority—High return, but require R&D or feasibility of immediate use in question

Water from Diesel Exhaust

Explore technologies to obtain potable or non-potable water from diesel exhaust with small impact to weight, power, and cost of systems incorporating the technology; taste is a major barrier to acceptance Water Develop alternative water sources

Additive manufacturing

Monitor industry; continue Army field evaluation Maintenance Improve supply of critical items

Radionuclide power sources

Sponsor R&D in the development of small radionuclide power sources Fuel and Power Reduce battery weight
Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×
Medium Priority—Large return; longer time to fielding

Hybrid technology to power vehicles

Investigate existing commercial hybrid and electric technology Fuel and Power Reduce fuel requirements

Base area power generation small modular reactors

Monitor Department of Energy and research for power production Fuel and Power Reduce fuel requirements (generators);provide significant base camp power source

Alternative battery types that produce more power and are rechargeable

Investigate lithium-air batteries for application in the Army Fuel and Power Reduce battery weight

State of charge indicators to batteries: so soldiers do not discard usable batteries because they do not know how much charge remains

Integration of small, rugged, reliable state of charge indicators on batteries soldiers carry Fuel and Power Reduce battery weight

Ammunition consumption

Improve ammunition lethality and effectiveness Ammunition Increase small caliber ammunition effectiveness

Reduce ammunition weight

Investigate caseless, polymer cased, or case telescoped small-caliber ammunition Ammunition Decrease weight of small caliber ammunition

Innovative packing to reduce volume and weight

Investigate replacing conventional packing materials; Ammunition Ammunition packaging

Shipboard desalination

Investigate converting existing tanker for providing desalination of seawater to produce bulk potable water Water Develop alternative water sources

On-board auxiliary power units (ASUs) to produce electricity

Determine if fuel cell based systems are technically feasible to operate as APUs Fuel and Power Reduce fuel requirements
Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×
Page 142
Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×
Page 143
Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×
Page 144
Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×
Page 145
Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×
Page 146
Suggested Citation:"9 Logistics-Centric Science and Technology and Research and Development Investment Strategy." National Research Council. 2014. Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18832.
×
Page 147
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The mission of the United States Army is to fight and win our nation's wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders. Accomplishing this mission rests on the ability of the Army to equip and move its forces to the battle and sustain them while they are engaged. Logistics provides the backbone for Army combat operations. Without fuel, ammunition, rations, and other supplies, the Army would grind to a halt. The U.S. military must be prepared to fight anywhere on the globe and, in an era of coalition warfare, to logistically support its allies. While aircraft can move large amounts of supplies, the vast majority must be carried on ocean going vessels and unloaded at ports that may be at a great distance from the battlefield. As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown, the costs of convoying vast quantities of supplies is tallied not only in economic terms but also in terms of lives lost in the movement of the materiel. As the ability of potential enemies to interdict movement to the battlefield and interdict movements in the battlespace increases, the challenge of logistics grows even larger. No matter how the nature of battle develops, logistics will remain a key factor.

Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations explores Army logistics in a global, complex environment that includes the increasing use of antiaccess and area-denial tactics and technologies by potential adversaries. This report describes new technologies and systems that would reduce the demand for logistics and meet the demand at the point of need, make maintenance more efficient, improve inter- and intratheater mobility, and improve near-real-time, in-transit visibility. Force Multiplying Technologies also explores options for the Army to operate with the other services and improve its support of Special Operations Forces. This report provides a logistics-centric research and development investment strategy and illustrative examples of how improved logistics could look in the future.

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