sea; (2) providing a sea-based support platform, low-cost, robust, high-speed watercraft, and air transport to support the Marine Corps concept of Operational Maneuver From the Sea; and (3) conducting logistics-over-the-shore operations in rough seas.
The full benefit from technology, however, will be gained only by applying it in the context of enterprise processes that draw together, in an integrated and deliberate design, all relevant activities to achieve specific goals. Technology, particularly information technology, will enable logistic processes that are substantially different from the traditional ones. The Navy and the Marine Corps should use new technology to change the way logistics is accomplished, not simply to perform current tasks better.
The aging of the ships of the combat logistic force, the pending expiration of leases on the maritime prepositioning ships, and the need for a sea-based support platform for amphibious operations all present an opportunity to do careful examination and design of future logistic processes before major ship investments are made.
The panel offers the following recommendations:
The Navy and Marine Corps should take the opportunity now, before starting the design of new logistic ships, to define and design future logistic processes, from the sources of materiel to its delivery in warfighter-ready condition to naval forces at sea, from the sea, and over the shore. Once the logistic processes are designed and the roles of logistic ships have been decided, the Navy should examine the desired characteristics of new logistic ships to see if they can be met by a common design, a modular design, or a design that is convertible to alternate roles.
The Navy and Marine Corps should learn how to exploit the advantages of standard shipping containers in supporting naval forces at sea, from the sea, and over the shore. Containers offer efficiency, control, and security in transporting and handling materiel. With emerging technology for load planning, content tagging, and shipment tracking, containers can be transformed from dumps of randomly stowed materiel to virtual supply depots of immediately accessible materiel that is warfighter ready.
The Navy and Marine Corps should develop and apply to logistic operations the emerging information technologies that promise to enable management of processes as integrated enterprises supporting naval operations:
Automated marking and identification technology to eliminate manual input of critical logistic data;
Sensors and intelligent software for monitoring logistic activities (e.g., shipments and maintenance) and for carrying out routine actions automatically;