Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2011 Contents ASC.ARMY.MIL 59
In response to the ever-evolving
threat of thievery, the U.S. Armed
Forces are harnessing new technol-
ogy to prevent pilferage of cargo.
"The bad guys are getting smarter," said
Eric L. Mensing, President and Chief
Executive Officer of the shipping com-
pany APL Maritime Ltd., and Vice
President, Government Trade and Affairs
of APL Ltd.
Existing tools are designed primarily for
tagging and tracking cargo. They include
the In-Transit Visibility (ITV) system, a
fusion of logistics information and dis-
tribution technologies. ITV uses Radio
Frequency Automatic Identification Tech-
nology to identify, locate, and track the
movement of all classes of supply from
source to user.
Tracking has come a long way, even from
just five years ago, and has a ways to go,
Mensing said at the Association of the
United States Army Institute of Land War-
fare's Army Sustainment Symposium and
Exposition May 10-12 in Richmond, VA.
"We reasonably should be tagging every
box that goes through," keeping the tags
on the containers to be returned with
them, Mensing said. As it is, a shipment
may be signed for at a storage facility gate
and then disappear. The shipping indus-
try can provide security, but it should be a
DOD responsibility, he said.
ITV has allowed for almost 100 percent
tagging of containers to track them from
node to node in the distribution network,
said U.S. Marine Corps BGen William
M. Faulkner, Vice Director for Logistics,
J-4, on the Joint Staff. That supports
a common operational picture across
combatant commands and distribution
networks, but the services' ability to
respond promptly to incidents of pilfer-
age when they are identified is still limited
by the sheer size of the area of operations,
"Cargo needs real-time, in-transit vis-
ibility," especially when we don't control
the route, said U.S. Navy VADM Mark
D. Harnitchek, Deputy Commander, U.S.
Transportation Command (TRANSCOM).
Among the technologies that promise
to help reduce pilferage is a "smart con-
tainer" that the Army is testing with a
unit's deployment to Afghanistan. The
"smart container," made of a lightweight
polymer, integrates global satellite com-
munication capabilities for monitoring
its location. Sensors can detect tampering,
environmental conditions, and jarring of
the container. Tamper-proof locks, alarms,
and internal security cameras provide
The Army is also working with TRANS-
COM to develop next-generation wireless
capability for near-real-time tracking of
materiel throughout its distribution chain.
The U.S. Army Materiel Command and
the Army's Logistics Innovation Agency
have conducted a successful proof-of-
principle demonstration of the new
capability in Kuwait, as a possible replace-
ment for radio-frequency identification.
On a related note, the Defense Logistics
Agency (DLA) is looking at breakthrough
technologies, such as DNA markers, to
prevent counterfeiting of spare parts, espe-
cially microelectronics, said U.S. Navy
VADM Alan Thompson, DLA Director.
These technologies could also be useful to
the services in controlling theft, he said.
"We're very, very close to [being] able to
deliver real-time, actionable intelligence"
on pilferage in progress, said MG Kevin
A. Leonard, Commanding General, U.S.
Military Surface Deployment and Dis-
tribution Command. In the meantime,
"Cargo at rest equals cargo at risk."
MARGARET C. ROTH is the Senior Editor
of Army AL&T Magazine. She holds a B.A.
in Russian language and linguistics from the
University of Virginia. Roth has more than
a decade of experience in writing about the
Army and more than two decades' experience
in journalism and public relations.
SPC Vincent Valone, a motor transport driver with the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade
Combat Team, guides the loading of storage containers filled with equipment and supplies onto a
Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck-Load Handling System in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (U.S. Army
photo by SSG John S. Laughter, 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)
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