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New distribution system will provide single source for answers

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (USTCNS)--- A transformation of the defense distribution system will strengthen the nation's warfighting capabilities and save money, according to General John W. Handy, USAF, commander, U.S. Transportation Command.

"This consolidation will provide a framework in which the warfighter does not need to order two or three of the same item to ensure that one of them arrives," General Handy said to a National Defense Transportation Association audience in Kansas City, Mo. "We can assure the commander that there is no need to reorder the item once a week because it cannot be found in the IT [Information technology] system," he added.

In September the Secretary of Defense appointed USTRANSCOM as Distribution Process Owner (DPO) to consolidate authority under one entity and realize logistics efficiencies, including:
· Elimination of seams between existing distribution processes;
· Standardization of DoD supply chain policies and performance goals;
· Institutionalization of sustainment planning into contingency processes, and
· Streamlining accountability under a single combatant commander.

Handy said there are no large supply depots in Iraq because of USTRANSCOM's ability to capitalize on industry advances, particularly in information technology. He said similar industry advances in supply chain management point to a need for the changes that the DPO designation will enable:
· Sustaining troops with the same money-saving efficiencies with which they were deployed;
· Providing one source of information to whom the combatant commander can address all logistics questions, and
· Saving money by eliminating duplicative services.

"What if a soldier in a foxhole could deploy with absolute confidence that when an MRE is ordered, the soldier would know it is coming and when it would arrive? If we could take that kind of visibility and confidence to General Abizaid's [commander, U.S. Central Command] level, the combatant commander could have the same confidence in sustainment as he has with the deployment," Handy said.

He added that USTRANSCOM is building on its partnerships with industry, the Defense Logistics Agency, the services and combatant commanders, and in the near future will present an initial action plan to Secretary Rumsfeld. The progress will be reported every 30 days.

A key element to the DoD's distribution process is developing business and financial practices more in step with the commercial sector. "Looking at the commercial market, everyone realizes that managing suppliers and the entire supply chain is big business. But, the DoD supply chain, with a multitude of ways to get to a theater of operations, is still a very complicated network, a spider web of activity. Ownership of this process will provide clarity to both the distribution and sustainment systems," Handy said.

USTRANSCOM was established in 1987, to coordinate commercial and military transportation worldwide. Since then, the unified command's responsibilities have evolved.

Today, USTRANSCOM provides the synchronized transportation, distribution, and sustainment which enables projecting and maintaining national power where needed, with the greatest speed and agility, with the highest efficiency, and the most reliable level of trust and accuracy. As the single manager for the Defense Transportation System, USTRANSCOM executes missions through three component commands: the Air Force Air Mobility Command, the Army Military Traffic Management Command and the Navy Military Sealift Command.

USTRANSCOM has moved over 885,000 passengers and more than 2.5 million tons of cargo in support of the global war on terrorism.
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