ADAMS:  Can You Get There From Here Without It?

by Lieutenant Colonel F. Keith Jones

A complicated system can help simplify strategic deployments for NATO countries.

If you and a few hundred of your closest friends wanted to travel to far-off places in Europe, how would you get there? Well, if you knew ADAMS and had some form of strategic transportation, vehicles for traveling around the theater, and supplies, you and your friends could be on your way! I want to tell you about ADAMS (the Allied Deployment and Movements System), its origin, the different modules that comprise it, and how you can use it to complete your travel plans within North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries.


ADAMS was developed to fill the need for a standard European deployment tool that all NATO nations could use. The computer information system personnel at the NATO Consultation, Control, and Communications Agency (NC3A), The Hague, the Netherlands, were tasked to develop a prototype deployment system capable of providing the theater commander with strategic deployment information on the dates, times, locations, and equipment of arriving forces. The parameters specified a stand-alone system and a local area network (LAN)-capable, Windows-type environment that would be user-friendly for all member nations. (At the time, there were 16 countries in NATO, but the addition of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland brings the total number to 19.) Encryption capabilities were required also, because many nations prefer to keep information on their forces classified.

Design Hurdles

The task did not seem too complicated until the various types of equipment and the multiple data bases of equipment information in European armies were considered. To handle and read these separate data bases, the NC3A developed a common data base that breached the multiple systems in use. Then they developed an internal data base for the various modes of conveyance. This was a large task considering the various sizes of trucks, railcars, and planes many European nations own and contract.

Another consideration was the emergence of new Russian, former Eastern European, and non-NATO friends after the end of the Cold War. NC3A had to consider all the transportation equipment they might wish to contribute to a NATO deployment as Partnership for Peace nations. These new friends required larger, more complex data bases for their information.

Still another issue that had to be addressed was increments of measure. Most Europeans used the metric system of measurement, but the largest troop-contributing nation, the United States, used the British (Imperial) system of measurement. This meant that all measurements by United States forces and any other forces using the Imperial system of measurement had to be converted to the NATO metric standard.

These were only a few of the problems that surfaced while figuring out how to compile information on the forces. A bigger problem was gathering information on all possible deployment nodes within and outside of Europe. According to an early 1990's change in NATO doctrine, NATO forces must be prepared to deploy to operations outside of Europe. This was another big change that affected how ADAMS was developed. How would data base information on ports of embarkation (POE's) and ports of debarkation (POD's) be provided?

Establishing this data base required all participating nations to input specific POE and POD data into the system for use in planning and executing deployments. This requirement, along with information on types of strategic transportation assets, various national forces, and national infrastructures, meant that there was an extremely large programming requirement for numerous simultaneous tasks and a need for a large quantity of computer storage space.

The tasks mentioned above were not insurmountable when viewed from the larger perspective of NATO as an institution. But if you have ever tried to get something done that required agreement from more than one person, you have some idea of the difficulty of getting the 19 NATO nations to agree on a single, standard computer system dealing with deployments of their national forces. What was important to one country was not necessarily important to another. This was the type of environment within which the NC3A worked while developing and refining ADAMS.

What ADAMS Is Not

ADAMS is not a movement control program. It cannot manage the movement of forces past their final destination. ADAMS provides visibility of movements projected or reported over time rather than real-time movements; it does not provide real-time intransit visibility (ITV). During the development of ADAMS, ITV was considered but not incorporated, because the changes required to make ADAMS compatible with current ITV systems within the various nations were small and relatively insignificant.


What does ADAMS do for a strategic deployment? ADAMS is NATO's answer to both the Transportation Coordinator-Automated Command and Control Information System and the Joint Operations Planning and Execution System rolled into one system. It was designed for planning and monitoring strategic deployments within NATO's area of responsibility.

ADAMS allows nations to submit detailed deployment plans (DDP's) on forces contributed to any deployment. It permits Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) to activate an allied movement coordination center to review these national deployment plans and, if required, deconflict movements into the theater's POD's. During this deconfliction process, there is direct dialogue and coordination between the troop-contributing nations and SHAPE on the forces' arrival into theater. This is a very delicate and time-sensitive process. SHAPE does not want to discourage troop-contributing nations from providing forces, but it does want to manage the arrival of forces based on the commander's operational preferences and future force order of implementation. Deployments at this level also must be managed because there often are restrictions at the reception ports. A majority of these ports have limited infrastructure, equipment, and space, which influence the number of forces arriving in the theater of operations. ADAMS monitors deployments to the unit's final staging area, which is similar to what is done with the Joint Flow Analysis System for Transportation used by U.S. regional commanders in chief to project U.S. deployments based on operational plans.

ADAMS Components

ADAMS is divided into seven specific components—

Geo Manager Module (GEO).
Force Data Management Module (FDM).
Supply Package Module (SPM).
Transport Asset Module (TAM).
Deployment Planning Module (DPM).
Deployment Display Module (DDM)
General Deployment Model (GDM).

When integrated, these seven modules become the final product—the deployment plan. A key point to remember with ADAMS is that all data entries must be completed in a logical sequence, using a step-by-step process. This is a part of the NATO standardization procedures. If this sequence of steps is not followed, problems occur later when information is compiled and transmitted.

The GEO module allows access to the geographical location management data base, which contains the latitude and longitude of the locations from which units will deploy. This module lists and updates the logistics links at a specific geographical location (the transportation modes the location will accept). This information is used later in the DPM module. The GEO module also provides information on the infrastructure of the location, which can be added to the data base. This allows specific details to be input that show the characteristics for each deployment location. The information is different for each location, and there are specific data windows for entering these data into the system. It also is possible to create sets of maps and transportation networks in a Program Evaluation and Review Technique-type diagram (PERT chart) using the GEO module.

The process of identifying forces and associated equipment needed for possible deployment begins in the FDM module. This module allows nations to input specific equipment data—basically all of the information that is contained on the equipment data plates. Then new force lists are created, or old lists are updated. These lists contain all of the details about various types of units. After this information is input, the selection, or building, of the deploying force can begin. The force selection process allows the building of the force scheduled for deployment and the selection of its equipment and personnel.

There are four items commonly associated with building a force: the plan for the operation; the statement of requirements developed by the operational staff and used by the nations to identify the forces they will contribute; national force contributions (the forces a nation will contribute to support an operational plan); and a disposition list (called either an allied or national disposition list), which matches force contributions to requirements.

Once the building of forces in the FDM is complete, the list of forces and their equipment and structure can be updated, and any forces that have become unnecessary due to mission changes can be deleted. FDM combines the force selection process and the equipment data portions of the data bases in ADAMS. The FDM allows the operator to allocate the national force contributions according to the plan.

The SPM is stored in the central data base and is used to determine consumption rates. This module uses standardized consumption rates based on climatic and environmental conditions, types of operations, vehicles, and unit organizational structures. It allows planners to determine supply requirements rapidly for the deploying force. This module also determines the transportation requirements for supplies based on the consumption factors stored in the data base and allows this information to be incorporated into the deployment plan.

The TAM lets each nation establish a national transportation asset data base. The TAM is one of the most important data bases, because it is where ADAMS maintains the transportation asset portions of each deploying nation's equipment and facilities. This data base and the editing modules in GEO, FDM, and SPM make up the ADAMS data base management modules.

Planners use the DPM most often. This is where the DDP is constructed for the national force list. In this module, forces are organized based on method of deployment, such as advance party, and matched to their mode of transport. Assets then are assigned for deployment, planning for estimated supply packages is completed, and time schedules are arranged based on the method of deployment into the theater. The DPM, which facilitates planning of movements by all modes from all available facilities, becomes the brains of ADAMS. In the DPM, determinations are made on transportability and height and width restrictions, which influence the types of assets that will be sent and the routes they will follow into the theater.

Using the DDM, ADAMS performs major analysis and deconfliction of the proposed movements in accordance with the DDP's. ADAMS examines the DDP and uses the system to deconflict national movements. This is done to equalize the use of various reception nodes based on their capabilities rather than on force flow.

The GDM is a simulation model that uses many "what if" scenarios to develop various options to the basic plan. This model evaluates the "what if" of possible changes to deployment assets, infrastructure, and timelines based on the existing plan. After these scenarios are run, the results can be analyzed to determine the effects of changes on the basic plan. This is a valuable tool for planners to use because of the constant changes that normally occur before a deployment. Commanders derive the most benefit from this option as they refine their plan, because they have the opportunity to see what effect changes have on the basic plan.

In this article I have presented only a broad-brush picture of ADAMS. For a more detailed description, contact the NC3A and request a tutorial manual on ADAMS. You may wish to request a national slot for a comprehensive 1-week training session conducted four times a year at SHAPE Headquarters in Mons, Belgium. One thing to remember about operating ADAMS: It is a very perishable skill if it is not practiced continually.

Although it is a somewhat complicated system to learn, and one that must be used consistently to maintain proficiency, ADAMS has proven over time to be a very capable strategic tool. Can you get there from here without ADAMS? If you're in a NATO country, the answer is "no." ADAMS is a "must-have" tool for any strategic NATO deployment today or in the future. ALOG

Lieutenant Colonel F. Keith Jones commands the 49th Movement Control Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas. He previously served in the Movement and Transportation Branch of the Logistics and Manpower Division, Headquarters, Allied Land Forces Central Europe. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff Officers Course and the Armed Forces Staff College.