Over the past few years, the Army has struggled
to find innovative ways to manage and track equipment. In its
quest, the Army has been able to take advantage of some of
the advances that the commercial sector has made in database
and Web-based applications.
In March 2000, the Office of the Secretary of Defense issued Defense Reform Initiative
Directive 54, Logistics Transformation Plans, which mandates the implementation
of Web-based data environments across its departments. As the capabilities enabled
by Web-based technology and network-centric architectures matured, the Army realized
it had an immediate need for a system that could use those capabilities to address
the shortcomings of its current systems and fulfill the logistics information
needs of increasingly demanding and complex global operations. To meet the mandate
of pursuing Web-based technology, Project Manager Logistics Information Systems
(PM LIS) at Fort Lee, Virginia, initiated a pilot program paralleling the supply
and property portion of the Global Combat Support System-Army.
The pilot program quickly transitioned into a new software package called Property
Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE), and, within 14 months, PBUSE was ready for
Army-wide operation. The PBUSE software was designed specifically to replace
the Standard Property Book System-Redesign (SPBS–R) in garrison and tactical
environments. PBUSE uses a centralized Web and database server located behind
the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) firewall in the Strategic and Advanced Computer
Center (SACC) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Because the software is Web-based, many functions that once required user intervention,
such as catalog and authorization updates, total package fielding, and split
operations reporting, now can be performed automatically. The application also
manages basic and operational loads and hand receipts. PBUSE uses a state-of-the-art
technology that replicates property accountability data to the corporate database
To deliver this critical flexibility, the Army has expedited the fielding of
PBUSE to provide real-time, Web-based visibility to all levels of the Army and
the joint community. PBUSE not only improves property accountability and data
integrity but also eliminates
the need for Continuing Balance System-Expanded reporting and Unique Item Tracking
system reconciliations. PBUSE fully supports serial number tracking, mobility
planning, and national-level redistribution. Because PBUSE is Web-based, asset
visibility is significantly increased across the enterprise. This is because
all users are connected to one database—one system of record. PBUSE complies
with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act and Chief Financial Officers
Act mandates for both garrison and tactical environments, which include modification
table of organization and equipment and table of distribution and allowances
To maximize the use of the Web, users are advised to operate in the connected
mode; however, it may be necessary to operate in a stand-alone environment when
a reliable network connection is not available. The harsh reality of today’s
battlefield dictates the need for PBUSE to provide the capability to manage tactical
logistics information when commercial satellite communications are not available.
Like Microsoft Outlook, the PBUSE stand-alone application is easy to use and
provides similar user interfaces in both connected and stand-alone modes. When
a stand-alone tactical requirement has passed, the system is reconnected to the
Web for resynchronization of the user’s data in the central database.
Army leaders realized years ago that a fast, globally accessible, and scaleable
data network is required to enable network-centric warfare. The solution to this
lies in the development of the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN–T).
The problem is that WIN–T will not be ready fast enough with all the required
functionalities. However, the satellite communications network can be used as
a temporary measure until WIN–T is ready for fielding.
To improve communications on the battlefield, the Army G–4 implemented
the “Connect Army Logisticians” initiative, which increased the number
of Very Small Aperture Terminals in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait by 125 percent.
The success of PBUSE in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility
has proven that using satellite-based communications is a viable means of providing
the global data environment that Army logisticians and their customers need to
achieve their logistics and transformation goals. Using these systems, Soldiers
in the field can place their supply requisitions and receive status reports on
their requests in near real time. With adequate communications, sending military
standard requisitioning and issue procedures (MILSTRIP) transactions to the supply
support activity (SSA) and receiving order status electronically from the supporting
SSA can be accomplished with ease and convenience through file transfer protocol
(FTP). Once the sending and receiving parties have properly adjusted and configured
their systems, FTP transmissions can be conducted with expediency and reliability.
Soldiers will no longer have to risk their lives hand-delivering diskettes to
SSAs in order to place supply orders.
and civilian contractors in Iraq learn to use the
Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE) system.
PBUSE Rollout and Support
Lessons learned from current operations in the Middle East point to the need
for end-to-end integration and continuous asset visibility. To address these
needs, the Army is currently fielding PBUSE to units inside and outside the continental
United States and standardizing the systems at multiple locations within the
theater of operations.
The materiel developer for PBUSE, PM LIS, is responsible for coordinating,
developing, supporting, and evaluating all functional, programmatic, and technical
of assigned standard Army logistics systems. PM LIS recently sent its supporting
technical and functional personnel to oversee the standardization of PBUSE
in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq. All property book officers there received
to replace their SPBS–R systems.
Central to the PBUSE fielding effort in CENTCOM’s area of responsibility
is the automated logistics assistance team (ALAT). The ALAT was established in
January 2003 to augment the Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) G–4
logistics automation office in a teaming arrangement between the Army Combined
Arms Support Command (CASCOM) at Fort Lee and PM LIS. The ALAT—
• Provides technical and functional assistance for Standard Army Management
Information Systems (STAMIS) support by operating a help desk forward to identify
trends and to rapidly address theater STAMIS automation problems.
• Assists with the fielding of logistics automation systems.
• Provides over-the-shoulder training support to numerous deployed organizations.
From January to November 2005, 172 users in Kuwait and 188 in Iraq were trained.
One ALAT is serving in Arifjan, Kuwait, and a second is at Balad Air Base,
Iraq. Working alongside the ALATs are the combat developers (or functional
experts) from the CASCOM Directorate for Combat Developments, Tactical Logistics
Requirements Branch, who frequent the area of responsibility to assist the
CFLCC G–4 on asset visibility matters.
To provide constant and flexible support for deployment operations, PBUSE was
upgraded recently with Software Change Package 5.0, which gives staff-level users
the capability to build task force organizations.
With PBUSE, property book operations are more efficient, transactions are processed
accurately, and workloads are reduced significantly, enhancing command mission
and logistics readiness. The development community of Northrop Grumman Mission
Systems, CASCOM Tactical Logistics Requirements Branch, and field users have
contributed immeasurably to PBUSE success.
Chief Warrant Officer (W–5) Pablo A. Brown is a logistics management specialist
in the Tactical Logistics Enterprise Systems Support Branch of the Army Combined
Arms Support Command (CASCOM), Directorate of Combat Developments, Enterprise
Systems, at Fort Lee, Virginia. He works with the Global Combat Support System-Army
Field/Tactical (GCSS-Army F/T) project. He has a master’s degree in organizational
management from the University of Phoenix and is a graduate of the Warrant Officer
Senior Staff Course, the Logistics Executive Development Course, the Combat Development
Course, and the Army Force Management School.
Chief Warrant Officer (W–5) Franklin D. Meeks is the Deputy Chief of the
Tactical Logistics Enterprise Systems Support Branch of the CASCOM Directorate
of Combat Developments, Enterprise Systems. He also works with the GCSS-Army
F/T project. He is a graduate of the Warrant Officer Staff Course and the Warrant
Officer Senior Staff Course.
The authors thank Beverly T. Hudson, John E. Laudan, and Lieutenant Colonel Gregory
A. Barisano, USA (Ret.), for their help in preparing this article.