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GCN : October 2012
42 GCN OCTOBER 2012 • GCN.COM DAVID WIEGOLD GCN AWARDS GLOBAL LOGISTICS MODERNIZATION U.S. MARINE CORPS Getting supplies to military units in a timely fashion has been the bête noir of armies for centuries. It's even more criti- cal today, when fighters at the forward edge of combat can be located anywhere and everywhere, and often invisible to logistical planners clicking away in the background. The U.S. Marine Corps Global Combat Support System (GCSS-MC) has been working to change that situation with a system that uses a federated private cloud and data synchronization techniques to give all Marines --- out to the tip of the spear --- the same logistics capabilities they would have in their home garrisons. Previously, a gunnery sergeant would order three or four times the number of parts he needed, said Andrew Dwyer, GCSS-MC program manager, because he didn't have the kind of visibility into the requisition process to know where and when he would receive his order. Often supply lines were clogged with redundant orders and documentation on repairs and maintenance of weapons, ve- hicles and other equipment was not time- ly or reliable. So units were dependent on forward-positioned stocks dragging mas- sive amounts of inventory to compensate for the lack of a quick response system. Readiness rates dropped from 100 per- cent to 50 percent. The Global Logistics Modernization program that the GCSS-MC began in March 2010 reverses that by exposing the backend of the logistics process to the ser- geant. Now, he will know who has those parts and where they are, which in many cases could be at other units just a few miles away. The program has already produced a remarkable difference in cutting the time to complete requisition requests. "In some cases we're seeing improvement from days down to minutes in the time needed to get the status of a requisition," Dwyer said. "In 99 percent of the time it can be done in under 10 minutes, and that's an incredible thing for the end user." Even warfighters in forward locations, who sometimes have to deal with inter- mittent connectivity, can get the same results with the mobile version of the sys- tem that they carry with them. There was some resistance initially, given that the new system is based on commercial technology and was very dif- ferent from the custom-designed system that the Marine Corps had been using for the previous 45 years. Some level of customization was allowed with the new system, but that had to be prioritized due to scarce resources for developing the fea- tures, Dwyer said. "It's taken users time to get comfortable with it, but there's much less resistance now because we are at around 85 percent of the cutover to the new system," he said. "We'll have a full cutover by the end of this year, and by then we'll have close to 40,000 users on the new system." • --- Brian Robinson Marine Corps uses federated cloud techniques to speed delivery of supplies to the front Marine Corps logistics to the tip the spear Program Manager Andrew Dwyer (far right) and members of the Global Combat Support System's Marine Corps and industry team. ORGANIZATION: United States Marine Corps PROJECT: Global Logistics Mod- ernization with Federated Private Cloud CHALLENGE: Improve the readiness and safety of troops by dramatically reducing the time needed to order and receive supplies. SOLUTION: Create a system using cloud technology and data synchronization techniques to provide a consistent requisition experience from the garrison to forward units. AT A GLANCE