New locators help Army keep track of supplies
August 3, 2003
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — For Operation Iraqi Freedom, Army leaders and civilian contractors fine-tuned a budding computer system that tracks and displays supplies around the theater and across the world.
LCOP — Logistics Common Operational Picture — is the most modern system the Army has used. It’s still new, but the system eventually should allow users to watch on a screen the movements of trucks or cargo ships, and, with a click on an icon, see the contents of the vehicle they’re tracking.
Here’s an example of how it works: If a container turns up missing, an operator can program a hand-held receptor to find that container. The device will tell the operator how far the container is and can send a signal to trigger a beeping sound on the container’s tracking tag.
That can help find one container in a field of hundreds, which can be a huge timesaver, said Maj. S. Carter Corsello, from Morris, Ill., chief of logistics automation for Coalition Forces Land Component Command.
Eventually, convoys, vehicles and soldiers will be wired to send real-time information about troop movements to commanders in the field and in headquarters.
LCOP is the sum of three main parts: vehicle and cargo movement tracking, data processing and visual display. It was created as a planning tool and helped war planners decide how and when to bring supplies to the theater.
It starts with information collected by the Army’s various supply tracking programs, such as the Standard Army Retail Supply System, Standard Army Maintenance System and others.
“We take all those old systems, we add all the new systems [and] we see all the data in a common computer picture,” Corsello said.
The information is compiled by the integrated logistical analysis program, created by Calibre Systems of Alexandria, Va., said employee Jimmy Lee, working at Camp Arifjan.
The system uses radio transmitters and satellite systems much like Global Positioning Systems to track movements.
Items are tracked two ways. Some carry a radio frequency tracking device that is read by interceptors located in about 60 places around the region.
Other items have satellite devices that feed information. The device can be programmed, for example, to send data when two vehicles communicate with each other by radio.
Tapestry Solutions developed the final piece of the system, creating a visual display of all the data.
What makes the entire package unusual is the way all the programs have been integrated.
“We took all these systems that are out there and we made them all talk together,” Corsello said.
With all the parts working together, LCOP will create a timely picture of the supply chain for tactical, operational and strategic planning.