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USTRANSCOM gets ready to expand its horizon

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SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., (USTCNS) --- Big things are happening at United States Transportation Command and Army Major Gen. Robert T. Dail, the first soldier to serve as United States Transportation Command's Director of Operations, has landed "right smack dab in the middle of Transportation Command Transformation."

"It's a very interesting assignment," Dail said, who arrived at Scott Air Force Base this summer. His elevation to the post which was once the reserve of Air Force officers such as Gen. John Handy and Major Gen. William Welser is "indicative of the continuing evolution of this command," said Dail.

Dail has arrived at a time when TRANSCOM is seeing its vast mission broaden even further. Many of these new challenges are being driven by TRANSCOM's recent designation as Distribution Process Owner (DPO) for the Department of Defense.

"Like all transformations," said Dail, "it's always a challenge when you're trying to transform while executing your current mission, and that current mission is awesome."

Transportation Command's current mission was to move American forces and material to faraway locations around the world, using the most modern information technology systems and tools, on the most technologically advanced platforms in the world.

"In the last couple of years we have moved nearly 1 million troops in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom," says Dail. "Plus, two and one-half million tons of military and coalition cargo have been moved to those theaters. That doesn't include moving people and supplies to the military's many other missions throughout the world."

In the past, TRANSCOM's mission was limited to transportation between theaters - from one transport hub to another. As DoD's Distribution Process Owner, TRANSCOM's responsibilities expand to include the entire end-to-end process - from the time personnel or equipment is requested by the warfighter until it arrives at its final destination.

It is an acknowledgement of Transportation Command's growing importance and its past success. "In addition to the core transportation mission, which will continue, TRANSCOM will focus also on getting people and supplies to forward operating locations," says Dail.

In order to accomplish this broader mission, TRANSCOM is changing.

"In order to have accomplished this enormous mission in the past and in order to complete the larger mission, TRANSCOM must be an information knowledge-concentric command," said Dail. "TRANSCOM must be empowered with the latest information technology and tools which allow it to optimize this national capability to meet warfighting needs."

Dail began his Army career 28 years ago as a transportation officer tasked with moving equipment and people to where they needed to be. But the tools used to accomplish that task then were a radio, clipboard, paper and pencil.

"There were no computers, no methods other than the telephone," Dail said. "There was nothing other than the local network to synchronize the movement of goods. In those days we attempted to overcome collaboration challenges and information uncertainty by assigning more personnel to track and direct logistics."

The result was a great deal of uncertainty about where the people and material needed for an operation were at any given time.

TRANSCOM's goal now is to create a totally visible chain of movement, so that any given time TRANSCOM knows where every troop and widget is located.

"In my career I have been able to watch the tremendous advancement in achieving more certainty in logistics management," says Dail. "It has resulted in a large number of manpower and inventory savings."

Being able to see assets move from one place to another has greatly improved DoD's ability to logistically support warfighters around the globe, says Dail. And to achieve even greater visibility, TRANSCOM is looking to gain expertise from its own service components (Air Mobility Command, Military Traffic Management Command and Sealift Command) in addition to the latest methods and tools employed by business and developed in academia.

"My background in surface transportation and as a "customer" positions me to support Gen. Handy's position in an end-to-end distribution system in DoD," says Dail.

Specific tasks Dail will be working to tackle include: "Better integration of command and control of the current transportation capability that resides in our three service components. We have got to have better visibility of the global requirement to move forces, passengers and material from its origin in the United States to overseas and then to forward areas on the battlefield."

Dail says, "In laymen's terms, we have to know what it is we want to move, when we want to move it, where it's located today, and what its final destination is.

"The first thing we need to know is what does the customer need to have moved and we need to be able to coordinate and synchronize that entire movement from Scott Air Force Base," said Dail.

The previous TRANSCOM mission of moving people and material from theater to theater and hub to hub was an "outstanding success. TRANSCOM enjoys a great reputation in the Department of Defense," says Dail.

Building the broader mission of end-to-end delivery has begun. "The growing mission will require us to use a team of experts here at Scott and overseas," said Dail.

Major tasks in building those teams include "changing skill sets at Scott, improving command and control here."

A second task is to answer the question, "What does that team need to consist of, and where should that team be located? What skill sets do I need to put overseas?"

TRANSCOM has begun assessing current processes and skill sets that are used to execute the current mission and "how they must change to meet the emerging mission of end-to-end distribution."

"We've also already begun to assess what information systems we'll have to have and what processes, skilled people and tools will be needed," said Dail.

"In a post 9-11 environment as demonstrated by Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, TRANSCOM is and will be called upon to operate and deliver combat power to any location on the globe . . . the designation as the DPO only reinforces that mission requirement," says Dail. "After 9-11, the United States of American is going to have to project power anywhere around the globe to counter terrorist action."

"TRANSCOM has proven it can do that. The designation as DPO only reinforces the enduring nature of that TRANSCOM mission, on a broader scale."

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