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USTRANSCOM is DOD's Distribution Process Owner - why, and what does it mean?

"It is a dramatic event for this command - for the first time in the history of the DOD, somebody has been given the responsibility for distribution process, management, leadership, directive and ownership. This is the first time that DOD has passed to a subordinate organization this kind of authoritative capability."

Gen. John Handy, commander, USTRANSCOM on the historical significance of becoming the DOD's Distribution Process Owner.

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (USTCNS) --- In September, Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld appointed the U.S. Transportation Command as the Distribution Process Owner (DPO) for the Department of Defense.

The mission statement for the command remains the same. Its overarching role in DOD logistics, however, is significantly broadened as reflected in the command's vision: USTRANSCOM provides the synchronized transportation, distribution, and sustainment which makes possible projecting and maintaining national power where needed with the greatest speed and agility, the highest efficiency and the most reliable level of trust and accuracy.

USTRANSCOM still provides air, land and sea transportation for the DOD, both in time of peace and time of war. However, the influence USTRANSCOM now has on DOD logistics, specifically distribution of resources, is greatly expanded.

Mathematically, distribution can be expressed as the sum of transportation and supply:


USTRANSCOM, traditionally has been responsible for strategic mobility, the transportation part of the equation. The supply half of the equation is accomplished by a myriad of organizations within the DOD. Numerous agencies, and various commands within the services procure and store sundry items. USTRANSCOM's designation as the DPO does not change any of this. Nor, does it change the organizational chain of command of any other agencies or organizations. What has changed is the fact that the DOD now has a combatant command singularly accountable for the distribution process. That's the reason for a DPO. No single agency or command has ever been responsible or accountable for making DOD's distribution system work for the warfighter. As a result, DOD's distribution system is fragmented and consists of stove-piped fixes by partners in the chain. The end user (troops at the tip of the spear) did not have a single source for supply chain management solutions - until now.

As the DPO, USTRANSCOM is tasked with directing, supervising, coordinating, synchronizing and developing processes, doctrine, business rules, information technology tools, systems, and procedures for all of the players in the equation to be more efficient and effective. USTRANSCOM is not attacking this alone. Success hinges on the collaborative efforts involving the Services, combatant commands, and logistics partners such as the Defense Logistics Agency. The goal is to have a logistics system that is more responsive to the customer's (warfighter's) needs.

To better illustrate, compare your local retailer to a Marine Corps infantry battalion somewhere in the world. Your local retailer must be stocked with goods to sell to customers and supplies to run the store much the same way the battalion must be sustained to perform its mission. The retail corporation procures goods and supplies to be shipped to the local store. So too, does the military. Retailers do not have their own warehouses for storing goods, and neither does the military unit. Consequently, both rely on timely arrival of goods. Both of the systems use multi-modal transportation when appropriate to deliver the goods. Both must have a system for forecasting their requirements, and both must have a reliable solution for monitoring the progress of deliveries. The difference is how the items are managed from when they are procured through delivery to their final destination. When your local store is in need of supplies they interface with one entity within their corporation to find out where goods are in the distribution pipeline. The Marine unit is forced to search for answers through a multitude of agencies, and information systems. A retailer has one entity to oversee the supply chain management solutions for the corporation. Until USTRANSCOM was appointed DPO, the DOD did not have a similar single point-of-contact for all distribution requirements and solutions.

Efficiency, effectiveness and accountability are at the heart of the DPO appointment. More importantly, for the warfighting customer, is gained confidence and reliability in the system that delivers their required commodities.

Well-intended initiatives on the part of innovative people result in stove-piped solutions. These further degrade the existing system by putting greater demands on the system, create throughput dilemmas at ports, and highlight the inherent problems with achieving total asset visibility - from the factory to the foxhole. The challenges facing USTRANSCOM as DOD's DPO center on how to make the distribution system reliable, flexible, and responsive to the warfighting customer's needs - from when an item enters the military's supply chain until it is delivered to the user.

The distribution of commodities within DOD is a complicated issue involving the Services, various DOD agencies, the combatant commands, suppliers, and commercial partners. At USTRANSCOM, teams are tackling how to do this by exploring where the seams exist in the current system, learning from academic and industry leaders in supply chain management, and soliciting ideas from partners in DOD's distribution system. The current system is being assessed, problems identified, and benchmarks are being developed to gauge success. USTRANSCOM's task as the DPO is to pull of this experience and knowledge together and improve service to the warfighting customers - incorporating supply chain management solutions to improve effectiveness and efficiency. Simply put, supply sergeants should be able to order items and have them delivered with the same level of confidence a consumer has when ordering from a major commercial entity.

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