USTRANSCOM Science and Technology History
On 16 September 2003, the Secretary of Defense designated United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) as the Department of Defense (DOD) Distribution Process Owner (DPO), responsible for the overall efficiency and interoperability of distribution-related activities supporting the deployment, sustainment, and redeployment of forces conducting the full range of military operations. The paramount goal of the DPO Science and Technology program is to enhance support to USTRANSCOM's customers in peace and war through exploration of transformational distribution technologies. The S&T program fosters development of new bodies of knowledge on distribution, then enables evaluation and integration of the resulting transformational approaches.
As the DOD's DPO, USTRANSCOM's business enterprise stretches from the point at which warfighting materiels have been procured to their point of use in a theater of operations--anywhere in the world. This "global supply chain" requires close synchronization between operational planners and the materiel, personnel, and facilities that support the warfighting customer. Often the system must respond with only a few hours' notice. For capital assets like aircraft and tanks, the supply chain also has a retrograde requirement--to return items for employment in future operations. Movement and sustainment of personnel are also missions USTRANSCOM executes.
USTRANSCOM's mission is unique in the fact that it does not direct all the organizations and agencies that accomplish the missions of mobilization, deployment, sustainment, employment, and redeployment. Rather, as an orchestrator, USTRANSCOM must collaborate rapidly, with many partners, to ensure the supply chain operates effectively and efficiently.
In recognition of the vastly complex business of DOD distribution, USTRANSCOM received its first increment of Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) funds in fiscal year 2006 to foster the development and fielding of new technologies and techniques that may facilitate the operation of the Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise (JDDE). Prior efforts in the command to exploit new ways of filling capability gaps (with existing Transportation Working Capital Funds (TWCF)) were greatly constrained by law, mostly limited to bolting on "off the shelf" applications. Now, for the first time, the Joint owner of distribution processes can explore wholly new and innovative ways of achieving capability needs--creating new bodies of knowledge within Service and National laboratories and industry--to directly benefit the Joint distribution process.
A primary focus of USTRANSCOM RDT&E is the exploration of new capabilities which help bridge the gaps between the distribution agencies' functions. USTRANSCOM RDT&E explorations therefore may include new "intermodal" packaging and cargo handling equipment; command and control systems which can work across the many Service and commercial domains; tools to optimize the assignment and scheduling of lift assets; advanced cargo tracking technologies; methods of moving materiel more quickly through nodes in the distribution system; and other transformational innovations to ensure effectiveness while promoting efficiency in the DOD supply chain.