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Army Logistics Knowledge Management and SALE

This article, the first in a three-part series, introduces the author’s research of Army logistics knowledge management and the Single Army Logistics Enterprise.

The Single Army Logistics Enterprise (SALE) is a network of automated logistics information systems. Information technology (IT) hardware and software plug into the SALE architecture to help the Army maintain warfighting readiness. SALE provides visibility over the logistics pipeline to managers at all levels of operations through a web-based, integrated logistics database. The Army has identified SALE’s logistics functional areas as supply, maintenance, ammunition management, and distribution.
SALE is the Army’s logistics enterprise system. The vision for SALE is “a fully integrated knowledge environment that builds, sustains, and generates warfighting capability through a fully integrated logistics enterprise based upon collaborative planning, knowledge management, and best business practices.”1 The three components of SALE are collaborative planning, best business practices, and knowledge management (KM). However, the Army has not identified the logistics KM practices that SALE should support.

The Problem

The Army does not have a logistics KM framework to help manage data and information from SALE. To compound the problem, the Army has not taken steps to identify SALE implementation procedures relative to logistics KM. This presents a danger that the ongoing implementation of SALE might not be relevant to Army logistics KM. Current Army logistics policies and regulations do not address KM and its relationship with SALE.
Army logisticians need to know how to manage data and information. According to Donald Hislop, “Data includes numbers, words and sounds which are derived from observation or measurement, and information represents data arranged in a meaningful pattern . . . Knowledge can be understood to emerge from the application, analysis, and productive use of data and/or information.”2 KM pertains to the discovery, sharing, and application of knowledge.3

Unlike in the past when logisticians relied primarily on data and information from stovepiped stand-alone systems, today’s logisticians deal with real-time data and information from enterprise systems like SALE to manage the logistics pipeline. Recent IT breakthroughs and Army transformation require the Army logistics community to identify KM requirements and implement KM practices to satisfy the requirements. Otherwise, the flood of data and information from an enterprise system like SALE could overwhelm logisticians.

The Research

The purpose of this research is to propose a logistics KM framework and examine the implementation of SALE to determine its relevance to Army logistics KM. The relationship between Army logistics KM and SALE should evolve from logistics KM requirements, logistics KM practices, and SALE implementation efforts.

Many Army documents and KM studies were examined to help determine Army logistics requirements. Petrides and Guiney’s study4 about KM and organizational strategies and Smith and McKeen’s study about the importance of an organizational vision for KM5 and business processes6 provided insights for this portion of the research, as did Grossman’s study7 about KM metrics and academic discipline.

According to Miles and Huberman, “when you’re working with text or less organized displays, you often note recurring patterns, themes, or ‘gestalts,’ which pull together many separate pieces of data. Something ‘jumps out’ at you, suddenly makes sense.”8 Strategies, policies and regulations, institutional training and education, and operations drive Army logistics KM requirements. These themes that emerged from analyzing Army documents and KM studies helped to identify Army logistics KM requirements.

Strategies

The strategies that influence Army logistics KM requirements include the 2004 Army Transformation Roadmap, the Army Knowledge Management (AKM) Strategy, and the 2006 Army Game Plan.

The Army Transformation Roadmap “refines the Army’s transformation strategy and details Army actions to identify and build required capabilities to enhance execution of joint operations by the Current Force while developing the capabilities essential to provide dominant land-power capabilities to the future Joint Force.”9 AKM “is the Army’s strategy to transform itself into a network-centric, knowledge-based force and an integral part of the Army’s transformation to achieve the Future Force.”10 The 2006 Army Game Plan “describes strategic challenges and reinforces the centrality, importance, and intent of the Army Campaign Plan.”11

These strategies provide Army-level guidance for current and future military capabilities. The Army Transformation Roadmap, the AKM Strategy, and the Army 2006 Game Plan help drive Army logistics KM requirements. They contain the Army’s intent for collecting, sharing, and using information. They serve as guides to help the Army become a knowledge-based force. The strategies focus on enhanced capabilities, NCW, and best business practices.

Enhanced capabilities.
Strategies that will lead to enhanced capabilities pertain to making decisions, distributing supplies and services, receiving forces, and integrating the supply chain. According to the AKM Strategy, “AKM is intended to improve decision dominance by our warfighters and business stewards—in the battle space, in our organizations, and in mission processes.”12 Logisticians make decisions with data and information from several knowledge bases. The 2004 Army Transformation Roadmap states:

To sustain combat power, the Army must have the ability to see the requirements through a logistics data network. The Army requires a responsive distribution system enabled by in-transit and total asset visibility and a single owner with positive, end-to-end control in the theater. The Army needs a robust, modular force-reception capability—a dedicated and trained organization able to quickly open a theater and support continuous sustainment throughout the joint operations area. The Army needs an integrated supply chain that has a single proponent that can reach across the breadth and depth of resources in a joint, interagency and multinational theater.13

The enhanced capabilities mentioned in the AKM Strategy and the 2004 Army Transformation Roadmap stress the importance of collecting, sharing, and using data and information to make speedy and timely decisions. The Army relies on real-time data and information to conduct operations, and logisticians make decisions concerning the deployment and sustainment of military forces that could affect military operations. Therefore, logisticians must have the capability to make speedy and timely decisions.

NCW. One focus of the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) transformation efforts is NCW. Alberts, Garstka, and Stein’s study14 concerning influences of IT on commercial business practices helped launch DOD’s NCW concept. According to their study, NCW is a concept for connecting decisionmakers to achieve situational awareness on the battlefield. IT has revolutionized military operations, and it has also affected Army logistics.

NCW “leverages information-age concepts in the evolving strategic environment, enabling dispersed operations that produce coherent, mass effects via speed and coordinated efforts.”15 The U.S. Armed Forces implement transformation efforts from an NCW perspective. The Army logistics community must be able to operate in an NCW environment. Furthermore, DOD has identified NCW as a concept that will help transform information sharing. “Achieving the full potential of net-centricity requires viewing information as an enterprise asset . . . As an enterprise asset, the collection and dissemination of information should be managed by portfolios of capabilities that cut across legacy stove-piped systems.”16 The Army must have the means to access and share information in an NCW environment. The logistics piece of this pertains to logistics KM requirements. Logisticians must access and share data and information in an NCW environment.

Best business practices. The AKM Strategy and the 2006 Army Game Plan cover best business practices. The AKM Strategy emphasizes “innovative ways of doing business to improve Army decision making and operations.”17 It states that decisionmakers must “integrate best business practices into Army processes to promote the knowledge-based force.”18 The 2006 Army Game Plan says that the Army should concentrate on core missions and processes and on measuring performance.19

For the Army logistics community, this means focusing on core logistics functions and measuring the performance of the execution of those functions. Logisticians quantify data and information in order to measure the performance of logistics processes. The 2006 Army Game Plan advocates the Lean Six Sigma management technique to measure improvements in processes. Logisticians use performance-measurement approaches like Lean Six Sigma to determine how well logistics processes are performing.

Best business practices help drive Army logistics KM requirements. Best business practices, NCW, and enhanced capabilities support the vision of the Army logistics community for collecting, sharing, and using data and information. These strategies could help the Army logistics community identify logistics KM requirements and influence policies and regulations.

Policies and Regulations

Although the Army has over 100 Army regulations (ARs), field manuals (FMs), and pamphlets covering logistics, the main documents that influence Army logistics KM requirements are FM 4–0, Combat Service Support; FM 3–0, Operations; AR 220–1, Unit Status Reporting; AR 700–138, Army Logistics Readiness and Sustainability; and AR 25–1, Army Knowledge Management and Information Technology. FM 4–0 is the authoritative doctrine for sustainment, and FM 3–0 is the Army’s keystone doctrine for full-spectrum operations. AR 220–1 covers “the readiness of Army units for their wartime mission,”20 and AR 700–138 assigns responsibilities and establishes policies and procedures for reporting the condition of Army equipment. AR 25–1 establishes policies and responsibilities for information management and information technology. These regulations identify goals and standards.

AR 700–138 provides materiel readiness goals for the Army. Logisticians manage data and information pertaining to supply, maintenance, production, distribution, and other logistics support needed to attain materiel readiness goals. AR 25–1 identifies the Army’s web portal, called Army Knowledge Online (AKO), as an AKM goal for the Army. AR 25–1 states that the Army should “institutionalize AKO as the enterprise portal to provide universal, secure access for the entire Army.”21 For the Army logistics community, AKO’s institutionalization as the enterprise portal implies that logisticians must use AKO to access, share, and apply logistics data and information. Logisticians use AKO to help ensure that the right supplies and services get to the right place at the right time and to ensure equipment readiness standards.

Institutional Training and Education

Army institutional training and education programs include requirements for collecting, sharing, and using logistics data and information. However, many programs do not have updated courses that use the term “logistics KM requirements.” The Army institutions that drive logistics KM requirements include TRADOC, CAC, and CASCOM, which all provide oversight over logistics training and leader development.

TRADOC “recruits, trains and educates the Army’s Soldiers; develops leaders; supports training in units; develops doctrine; establishes standards; and builds the future Army.”22 TRADOC provides overarching policies for training and educating Soldiers. CAC and CASCOM develop and execute training and education programs in support of TRADOC policies.

CAC provides policies pertaining to officer, noncommissioned officer, and civilian education. CAC focuses on the professional development of leaders. 23

CASCOM operates the logistics branch schools (Quartermaster, Ordnance, and Transportation), writes logistics doctrine, provides an Army-wide construct for organizing logistics forces, and ensures that logistics materiel solutions support warfighting.24 According to the CASCOM Command Overview Briefing and information from the Quartermaster, Ordnance, and Transportation schools, the Army does not have logistics KM courses. However, existing logistics training and education programs address collecting, sharing, and using logistics data and information. The Army simply has not created logistics KM requirement titles for what it trains and educates. Logisticians who need specific logistics KM requirements training and education attend special courses at their respective training and education centers.

CAC and CASCOM have the institutional structure for training and educating personnel in logistics KM requirements. According to the CAC approach to KM, the Army logistics community should view KM from the perspectives of the institutional and operational forces. So CAC has instituted a web-based KM forum, called Battle Command Knowledge System (BCKS), to help collect, share, and use knowledge. CASCOM has launched a similar web-based logistics forum, called LOGNet, as a subordinate function of BCKS.

The Army’s training and education institutions influence logistics KM requirements. Since the Army has not updated logistics doctrine with KM terminologies, existing training and education programs do not describe the collection, distribution, and use of logistics data and information as KM. However, the training and education that logisticians receive include logistics KM requirements. LOGNet helps logisticians collect, share, and use data and information. KM training and education occurs for all levels of operations.

Operations

Army strategic, operational, and tactical levels of operation influence logistics KM requirements. The logistics operations KM driver focuses on capacity management of the logistics pipeline at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Logisticians moderate the flow of data and information at these levels of operations. The Army logistics capstone document, FM 4–0, states—

Capacity management operations focus on programming changes in the system infrastructure to modify the finite capacity of the distribution system. Capacity management deals with balancing distribution system capacity against evolving changes in theater support requirements. Distribution managers plan for bottlenecks, disruptions, and changes in the operational scheme in order to optimize a theater’s distribution capacity. Capacity management operations use visibility and control to anticipate distribution needs, provide the necessary resources at the right time, monitor execution, and, as necessary, adjust the distribution system to avoid distribution problems.

Army logistics KM requirements consist of a combination of data and information for managing the logistics pipeline at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Logistics KM requirements evolve from logistics data and information from the following areas—

  • Subsistence and water.
  • Troop support materiel.
  • General supplies.
  • Clothing and textiles.
  • Industrial supplies.
  • Packaged and bulk petroleum.
  • Barrier and construction materials.
  • Ammunition.
  • Personal demand items.
  • Major end items.
  • Medical materiel.
  • Repair parts.
  • Mail.
  • Line-haul movements.
  • Maintenance.
  • War reserves.25

Strategic logistics. The “strategic level is that level at which a nation, often as one of a group of nations, determines national and multinational security objectives and guidance, and develops and uses national resources to accomplish them.”26 Strategic logistics KM requirements include the identification, collection, dissemination, and use of data and information to deploy forces and sustain them with supplies and services from the U.S. and international industrial bases. A combination of institutional and operational organizations provides strategic-level support. Examples of strategic-level logistics support include the distribution of supplies from pre-positioned stocks around the world, transportation of materiel and personnel, and coordination of repairs at Army maintenance depots.

Operational logistics. “The operational level is the level at which campaigns and major operations are conducted and sustained to accomplish strategic objectives within theaters or areas of operation.”27 Operational logistics KM requirements include the management of data and information to bridge the interface between the strategic and tactical levels.

Tactical logistics. “The tactical level is the realm of close combat, where friendly forces are in immediate contact and use direct and indirect fires to defeat or destroy enemy forces and to seize or retain ground.”28 Tactical-level logistics KM requirements include the management of fuel, ammunition, food, repair parts, and other materiel to ensure the right support gets to the warfighter at the right time and right place.
Logisticians manage the logistics pipeline for logistics functions. Army logisticians focus their efforts on supporting strategic, operational, and tactical logistics operations. Operations at these levels drive logistics KM requirements. Logisticians focus on the capacity of the logistics pipeline to ensure uninterrupted support to all levels of military operations.

Since the Army does not have a framework for identifying logistics KM drivers—strategies, policies and regulations, training and education, and operations—the KM drivers suggested by this research could assist Army logisticians with these efforts. The Army logistics community must get its arms wrapped around logistics KM requirements. Otherwise, the ongoing implementation of SALE might not be relevant to Army logistics KM.
ALOG

Dr. Nicholas J. Anderson is the president of O&M Consulting, LLC, in Goose Creek, South Carolina. He is a retired Army colonel and a graduate of South Carolina State University. He has a doctor of philosophy degree in organization and management from Capella University, a master’s degree degree in management from Webster University, and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Army War College.

1 Enterprise Integration, Inc., “Single Army Logistics Enterprise: Overall Army Logistics Enterprise Solution Report-Final,” Fairfax, Virginia, 2003.

2 Donald Hislop, Knowledge Management in Organizations, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005.

3 I. Becerra-Fernandez and R. Sabherwal, “ICT and Knowledge Management Systems,” Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management, Idea Group Reference, Hershey, Pennsylvania, 2006, p. 230-234.

4 Lisa A. Petrides and Susan Zahra Guiney, “Knowledge Management for School Leaders: An Ecological Framework for Thinking Schools,”
Teachers College Record, Vol. 104, No. 8, 2002, p. 1702–1717.

5 Heather A. Smith and James D. McKeen, The Evolution of the KM Function, May 2003, http://business.queensu.ca/centres/
monieson/docs/working/working_03-07.pdf
; accessed on 26 September 2007.

6 Heather A. Smith and James D. McKeen, “Developments in Practice XII: Knowledge-Enabling Business Processes,” Communications of the Association for Information Systems, Vol. 13, 2004, p. 25–38.

7 Martin Grossman, “An Overview of Knowledge Management Assessment Approaches,” The Journal of American Academy of Business, Vol. 8, No. 2, March 2006, p. 242–247.

8 Matthew B. Miles and A. Michael Huberman, Qualitative Data Analysis, Sage, Thousand Oaks, California, 1994.

9 Department of the Army, “Army Transformation Roadmap,” Secretary of the Army, Washington, DC, 2004, p. i.

10 Department of the Army, Army Regulation 25–1: Army Knowledge Management and Information Technology, Department of the Army, Washington, DC, 2005, p. 2.

11 Department of the Army, “Army Game Plan,” Secretary of the Army, Washington, DC, 2006, p. i.

12 Department of the Army, “Army Knowledge Management Guidance Memorandum Number 1,” Secretary of the Army, Washington, DC, 2001, p. 1.

13 Department of the Army, “Army Transformation Roadmap,” Secretary of the Army, Washington, DC, 2004, p. 5–10.

14 David S. Alberts, et al., Network Centric Warfare: Developing and Leveraging Information Superiority, Department of Defense Command and Control Research Program, Washington, DC, 1999.

15 Department of Defense, “The Implementation of Network-Centric Warfare,” Office of Force Transformation, Washington, DC, 2004, p. 2.

16 Department of Defense, “Quadrennial Defense Review Report,” Secretary of Defense, Washington, DC, 2006, p. 58.

17 Department of the Army, “Army Knowledge Management Guidance Memorandum Number 1,” Secretary of the Army, Washington, DC, 2001, p. 1.

18 Department of the Army, Army Regulation 25–1: Army Knowledge Management and Information Technology, Department of the Army, Washington, DC, 2005, p. 2.

19 Department of Defense, “Quadrennial Defense Review Report,” Secretary of Defense, Washington, DC, 2006.

20 Department of the Army, Army Regulation 220–1: Unit Status Reporting, Secretary of the Army, Washington, DC, 2006.

21 Department of the Army, Army Regulation 25–1: Army Knowledge Management and Information Technology, Department of the Army, Washington, DC, 2005, p. 2.

22 “TRADOC Mission,” Training and Doctrine Command, 2007, http://www.tradoc.army.mil/about.htm , accessed on 27 July 2007.

23 “Core Functions Leader Development and Education,” Combined Arms Center, 2007, http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/
leaderdevelopment.asp
, accessed on 8 August 2007.

24 “Command Overview Briefing,” Combined Arms Support Command, 2007, http://www.cascom.army.mil/cmd_plan_group/
CASCOM%20Overview %20Briefing-net.ppt
, accessed on 8 July 2007.

25 Department of the Army, “Army Knowledge Management Guidance Memorandum Number 1,” Secretary of the Army, Washington, DC, 2001, p. 1.

26 Department of the Army, Field Manual 4–0: Combat Service Support, Secretary of the Army, Washington, DC, 2003, p. 4-1.

27 Ibid., p. 4-1.

28 Ibid., p. 4-12.