In anticipation of deployment to Bosnia for Operation Joint Endeavor, the 1st Armored Division conducted an extended series of exercises at Grafenwoehr, Germany, in October and early November 1995. The exercises preceded the actual dispatch of the augmented force, known as Task Force Eagle. Throughout the exercises, a recurrent theme was the need for electronic connectivity to transmit data.
In Germany, the 1st Armored Division had made great inroads in the use of the objective supply capability (OSC). On a more limited basis, the division had employed the exportable logistics system (ELS) in support of Task Force Able Sentry in Macedonia using commercial and Defense switched network (DSN) lines. The challenge in Bosnia would be accessing OSC and using ELS with standard field tactical communications to relay logistics information.
OSC is well known in the logistics community and enables the user to obtain a part from the nearest source of supply within the theater of operations. If the part is in the continental United States, OSC almost instantaneously establishes a requisition at the wholesale level.
ELS is a menu-driven software developed by the 5th Signal Command that allows the user to upload maintenance or requisition data and download status information through a concentrator. In effect, ELS is simply the software that allows units to upload and download electronic data to a mailbox for routing and temporary storage. ELS was successfully used for operations in Macedonia, Rwanda, and Somalia and is now being used by units throughout Germany. Clearly, both systems are useful for any type of Army field or garrison operation.
In a short-fused effort that was unusually cooperative, elements of U.S. Army, Europe's logistics automation development (LAD) directorate, the 5th Signal Command, the 1st Armored Division automation officer (G6), and the division support command (DISCOM) combat service support automation management officer conducted a series of experiments during the predeployment training at Grafenwoehr. During these experiments, the Army's standard Army maintenance information systems (STAMIS), which include the unit level logistics system-ground (ULLS-G), standard Army maintenance system (SAMS), standard Army retail supply system-interim (SARSS-I), and direct support unit standard supply system (DS4), were connected to mobile subscriber equipment. We used hardwiring, modems, and tactical terminal adapters (TTA's) to connect STAMIS to the mobile subscriber equipment. In this way, logistics data were successfully transmitted within the theater and to the wholesale system. The tests proved that we could move logistics data with existing technology and available tactical communications systems.
Once deployed to Bosnia, we would be able to prepare the battlefield logistically, but we anticipated difficulties with force protection and communications because of the terrain and the number of troop locations. We knew that we had to find better ways to move data than by using voice mobile subscriber equipment or by hand-carrying floppy disks, a method also known as the "sneaker net." The dusty environment of Bosnia made it difficult to maintain the integrity of data on floppy disks. In addition, road travel was often perilous because of the threat of ambush, minefields, and other hazards.
With available technology, we hoped to lower order and shipping time and increase the operational readiness of Task Force Eagle, as well as lighten the class IX (repair parts and components) load. In short, we wanted to apply velocity management and the principles of battlefield distribution in Bosnia. However, there were several major hurdles to cross.
First, we had to find a modem that would operate with all STAMIS systems. We chose a Codex model 2345 modem because of its universal applicability.
Next, we had to figure out how to encrypt logistics data for passage through the secure communications systems. We used a commercially available piece of equipment called a network encryption system to pass unclassified data through the classified networks, which provide the best environment for data transfer.
Finally, we found that the absolute maximum distance at which there was a reasonable chance of maintaining a signal strong enough to transmit data from the STAMIS to the mobile subscriber equipment small extension node (SEN) was 1,500 feet. The assets available, the distance of the STAMIS computers from the SEN, and the terrain determined whether we used hardwiring, modem, or TTA to link the STAMIS sites to the SEN.
The real challenge was expanding logistics connectivity to all elements of the task force. Our priorities were to hook up all DS4 and SARSS-I sites, followed by SAMS and then ULLS-G computers. Of the ULLS-G sites, we would wire the combat brigades first, then the units already in the Tuzla valley of Bosnia (task force-main, task force-rear, and task force-troops).
After several unsuccessful attempts, we discovered that achieving connectivity was possible only through the cooperative and integrated efforts of the combat service support automation management officer, the division automation officer, and the brigade signal officer. Together, we formed strike teams that descended by helicopter into base camps and literally wired ULLS-G boxes from the operator's station to the SEN; from the SEN data moved through the point of presence router into the network encryption system. Data then would be transmitted from the network encryption system to satellites overhead and on to Germany. There the data would be unencrypted and patched into the DSN phone lines and on to the OSC gateway or ELS server. The strike team concept provided operators on-the-spot refresher training on how to verify passwords and script files; maintain hardware, software, and wire connections; and actually log on to OSC and ELS before leaving the site.
In a special test, the 1-1 Cavalry Air Troop at Hampton Base in northern Bosnia used their mobile subscriber radio telephone to send logistics data to OSC and ELS. Their location was so remote that they did not have SEN coverage. Fortunately, the mobile subscriber radio telephone worked, but the success rate was much lower than the air troop would have liked.
In Bosnia, Task Force Eagle proved many of the principles of cutting-edge logistics operations on the Force XXI digital battlefield. Electronic logistics connectivity works; however, it still has problems, many of them caused by mixing old and new technologies. However, tremendous technological strides have been made, and a generation of soldiers now knows a different type of logistics. The Army must continue to upgrade its total asset visibility systems-both hardware and software-to better serve its customer units in the field through improved battlefield distribution and velocity management. With an investment in technology, such as the latest version of ULLS-G, we can eliminate the "sneaker net" on the battlefield. ALOG
Lieutenant Colonel Carl J. Cartwright is the division materiel management officer for the 1st Armored Division in Bosnia. He has a bachelor's degree in biology from State University of New York at Albany and a master's degree in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology at Melbourne. He is a graduate of the Ordnance Officers Basic and Advanced Courses, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Army Logistics Management College's Logistics Executive Development Course
Major Jeffrey K. McGee is the support operations officer for the 501st Support Battalion, 1st Armored Division, in Bosnia. He has a bachelor's degree in laboratory animal science from Iowa State University at Ames and a master's degree in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology. He is a graduate of the Ordnance Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, and the Logistics Executive Development Course.