SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – In an effort to enhance readiness, members of U.S. Transportation Command have indentified new ways to leverage the existing defense transportation industry’s infrastructure and industry resources to support global demands, as well as formulate better solutions to improve Defense Transportation System capabilities.
Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander USTRANSCOM, explained this to a group of UPS airline executives recently. “We have set up our Enterprise Readiness Center to help us preserve our assets through collaborative efforts,” Fraser said.
He explained that the ERC mission is to keep our military and commercial planes, ships, trains and trucks used to move supplies ready to meet the needs of the nation as more than a decade of high wartime demand comes to a close.
“And it is already operational,” Fraser said. “Within the past few weeks, working with our Acquisitions (directorate) and J3 (Operations and Plans directorate), we were able to increase cost savings through flexibility with multimodal contracts. And the ERC is already exploring other potential transportation opportunities – cargo not moving along the Defense Transportation System.
“We are researching the cargo owners’ reasons for not selecting the DTS … whether it is cost, past performance, timing, miscommunication,” Fraser continued. “The ERC will lead the collaboration with the TRANSCOM staff, our components and partners to bring our primary customers back into the herd.
“We are putting on our marketing hat and looking for ways to increase business – through lower rates, increased reliability and old-fashioned customer service,” Fraser added.
Transformation of this magnitude will not be easy.
U.S. Air Force Col. Edward Koharik, ERC chief explained the unit further.
“We stood up (the ERC) to ensure that readiness across the command is synchronized,” Koharik said, “so that we don’t have a policy decision or an operational decision that would affect readiness, that everyone is not in on the conversation.
“The bottom line is to bring everyone in the conversation that needs to be,” Koharik continued, “so that when we address readiness, we address it as an enterprise instead of in the stovepipes (single-minded thinking) that we’ve experienced in the past.”
The winding down of military actions around the world will result in a decline in volume of transportation requirements across the Department of Defense.
“But at the same time we have a requirement to maintain an organic (government owned ships, aircraft, trucks etc.) capacity as well as access to commercial capacity that will require offset costs,” said Al Lopez, chief of Intermodal Programs Division for the ERC.
“There’s a cost to maintain that readiness,” Lopez continued. “So what we are trying to make sure is that we make decisions that might move transportation requirements from one mode to another, that we understand the implications as we go forward in order to improve our processes to gain those efficiencies and maybe reduce the overall cost of the organic fleet
“As workload levels reduce, part of the ERC’s mission is to balance our commercial assets and our organic fleet,” said Garth Sanginiti, chief of the Business Management Division in the ERC.
“And identify what’s really important and right-size (better use resources) our partnership as well as right-size our organic fleet.
“There are two divisions to the ERC,” Sanginiti added, “there’s the Business Management division, which is the division that’s responsible for looking at opportunities on the customer service side. The other Division is the Intermodal Program’s Division, managed by Al Lopez which serves as the industry interface (conduit between USTRANSCOM and transportation industry).”
The ERC is also exploring ways to use TRANSCOM’s partners and assets to better support the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The DTS currently moves only about 13 percent of that business.
In the FMS area lie multiple ERC success stories. One involves relieving a backlog in shipments in the pipeline where the ERC facilitated onward movement of 21 frustrated (a glitch in the process of getting the pallet to the destination) FMS pallets of Iraq-bound cargo in Kuwait.
“We also had a high visibility presidential request to move some Aerostats to Egypt,” Koharik said. According to Koharik, the ERC coordinated with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Air Mobility Command and various agencies to move two persistent ISR systems (Aerostat radar blimps) to Egypt.”
“There are many opportunities like that out there for DOD,” Sanginiti said. “It’s a matter of identifying them and letting people know we can help and letting them know how.”
On March 6, General Fraser told members of the House Armed Services Committee that to enhance readiness, USTRANSCOM is identifying new ways to leverage the existing DTS infrastructure and industry resources in support of our global demands, as well as formulating better solutions to improve DTS capabilities.
According to Fraser, this will not only benefit military aircrew proficiency, but will contribute TRANSCOM’s organic and commercial viability. In order to accomplish these objectives, the command stood up the ERC to help capitalize on opportunities to increase DTS volume. The ERC will also seek to improve transportation services to existing customers and drive responsiveness to improved levels by applying enterprise-proven methods.
The command understands that multiple transportation providers exist in today’s global distribution network. To that point, and with the ERC in place, Fraser said USTRANSCOM will endeavor to become the transportation provider of choice.
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