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UNIFIED VIEW: Improving Distribution and Deployment

The U.S. Transportation Command, the U.S. Joint Forces Command, and the Defense Logistics Agency collaborate to streamline the development of ways to fill capability gaps.

The Department of Defense (DOD) constantly identifies capabilities needed to accomplish its worldwide missions and gaps in its existing capabilities. The challenge of selecting and implementing near-term solutions to close these gaps can be daunting. Often, solutions cannot be implemented in a timely manner because of political and fiscal restrictions; it can take 5 years to fully implement some solutions across DOD. However, in many cases, needed capability gaps cannot wait 5 years for solutions.

As the DOD Distribution Process Owner, the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) is responsible for the global distribution of forces, equipment, and supplies to support combat, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations. To better meet the needs of its customers, TRANSCOM, working with the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), developed a process that streamlines the delivery of solutions to gaps in deployment and distribution capabilities. This process is a series of annual experiments called UNIFIED VIEW (UV), and it has produced several key improvements in the deployment and distribution processes in the last 4 years.


In 2005, TRANSCOM and JFCOM designed UV to establish a continuous cycle of improvements for the warfighter and create a systematic process of continued development of solutions to fill capabilities gaps. During UV 2006 (UV06), DLA became the third sponsor of the UV experiment series. UV focuses on integrating joint deployment, global distribution, and sustainment processes. It leverages the Joint Exercise Program, current operations, lessons learned, and previous experimentation results. UV participants include the combatant commands, the armed services, and DOD agencies.

UV uses the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System (JCIDS) Capabilities Based Assessment (CBA) and applies the JCIDS analysis to the experimentation process. The first part of each UV CBA is to conduct a functional area analysis (FAA), which is used to look at areas where problems may exist. Next is a functional needs analysis (FNA), through which needed capabilities or gaps in existing capabilities are identified. A functional solutions analysis (FSA) then is used to research and identify possible solutions to the needs or gaps and ultimately produces a set of recommended solutions.

These solutions are usually in the form of changes to doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) throughout DOD. The goal is to list deficiencies, research capabilities, determine solutions through experimentation, and develop a final product within 12 to 18 months. The UV series, using JCIDS, becomes a means for rapid process and materiel improvements.

Force Tracking Number and Focus Warfighter

UV 2005 (UV05) was the first experiment in the UV series and focused on integrating deployment and distribution processes. On 16 October 2006, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) released JROC Memorandum 218–06, which directed implementation of the two solutions developed by UV05: the force tracking number (FTN) and the focus warfighter (FW) process.

Use of the FTN improves the sourcing and tracking of request for forces and rotational force requirements throughout the deployment process and enhances force-closure reporting. FTN is currently implemented through the published Joint Staff force tracking number business rules message and will be incorporated completely in version 4.2 of the Joint Operations Planning and Execution System (JOPES).

FW integrates all combatant command, service, and DOD agency requirements into a single, integrated, coordinated strategic and tactical transportation solution. Integrating requirements provides opportunities to reallocate resources for different requirements as they arise. This increases flexibility to handle crises by involving transportation planners earlier in the requirements development process and reduces the need to completely rework all requirements. An example would be shipping certain low-priority commodities by surface transportation rather than by air to save time and money. Use of FW results in more reliable, predictable service and increased visibility of all movements.

Integrating Deployment and Distribution

UV06 built on the previous year’s experiment. It focused on integrating the deployment and distribution processes, specifically through global force allocation management (GFAM) and sustainment forecasting and planning (SFP). JFCOM, as the DOD Joint Force Provider, required a method to manage and track validated combatant commander force allocation requests, sourcing recommendations, and Secretary of Defense force allocation decisions that could adequately support its mission. GFAM helped to provide a solution to this requirement.

The GFAM and SFP efforts resulted in development of two JCIDS documents: a capabilities production document (CPD) for GFAM and a DOTMLPF change recommendation (DCR) for SFP. The GFAM CPD is being reworked as a Joint Capabilities Requirements Manager (JCRM) CPD. The SFP DCR was transitioned to the Adaptive Planning and Execution Logistics Working Group for consideration in developing their future processes.

Unit and Multinational Coalition Movements

UV 2007 (UV07) was the third in the UV series. The UV07 working group determined gaps and possible solutions for two problem areas.

First, deployment systems do not support joint information requirements needed for maintaining command and control and for reporting transportation tracking and closure (unit move tracking).

Second, combatant commanders require an improved capability to identify, plan, and manage the deployment, force rotation, redeployment, and sustainment requirements of multinational, interagency, international organization, and nongovernmental organization coalitions. This capability must be executed in an end-to-end manner during time-phased force and deployment data development, validation, and movement execution. (Movements include all self-deployers, U.S. military lift, non-U.S. lift, and commercial contract and civilian carriers by air, land, and sea).

The second problem area was narrowed down to the issue of military forces only, and two DCRs were developed for these problem areas:

  • TRANSCOM’s transportation tracking number (TTN) was proposed as a potential solution to the issue of unit move tracking.
  • Nine DOTMLPF recommendations were proposed to address the process improvement of multinational coalition deployment planning and movement execution.

The DCRs included establishing support for coalition applications within the Defense Information Systems Agency, updating doctrine, funding the coalition deployment planning tool, and updating professional military education and training. The TTN DCR has been briefed to and approved by the Focused Logistics Functional Capabilities Board (FCB) Working Group, the Command and Control FCB Working Group, and the Joint Capabilities Board. A JROC memorandum was produced and staffed in early January 2009 and sent to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for signature. The multinational coalition DCR was scheduled to be briefed to the Net-Centric Operations and Focused Logistics FCB working groups in late February and early March, respectively.

UV 2008 (UV08) FSAs are complete. UV08 focus areas included requirements and movement control, visibility, and deployment and redeployment closure. A package of recommended JOPES changes was developed and will be coordinated through the JOPES action group in the second quarter of fiscal year 2009. Many joint publications were examined as well, and several recommended changes that apply to Joint Publications 3–08, Interagency, Intergovernmental Organization, and Nongovernmental Organization Coordination During Joint Operations, and 3–35, Deployment and Redeployment Operations, will be submitted to the Joint Staff for staffing throughout DOD in the third quarter of fiscal year 2009.

UV 2009 (UV09) is underway; the FAA was held from 27 to 29 January and the FNA from 10 to 12 March. I strongly encourage any interested organizations with logistics, deployment, or distribution challenges to participate in UNIFIED VIEW. Please contact Colonel Blake Mahan at (618) 229–3041 or blake.mahan@ustranscom.mil or John Gray at (618) 229–1041 or john.gray.ctr@ustranscom.mil for more information.

John Gray is a subject-matter expert in the Wargames and Experimentation Branch of the Strategy, Policy, Programs, and Logistics Directorate at the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, where he participates in the UNIFIED VIEW (UV) series of experiments. He holds a B.S. degree in computer information systems from McKendree College and an M.A. degree in computer resource and information management from Webster University.

Stephen Daniels and Richard Hair of SRA International and Colonel Blake Mahan, the chief of the Wargames and Experimentation Branch, made significant contributions to UV efforts and this article.