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Top military officer: DoD solutions to logistics challenges are in private sector.

When Gen. Henry H. Shelton gives a speech, he likes to talk about the "art of the possible." In meeting the challenges of the 21st century, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says the military transportation and logistics community can learn a lot from private enterprise.

"I think we've got to reach out to industry and get their best business practices," said Shelton.

The Department of Defense has got to have the ability to meet challenges far from homeland--more than one at a time.

"Are we only going to help one friend at a time?" said Shelton.

America's top military officer made the comments at an Oct. 19 meeting of the National Defense Transportation Association of Washington, D.C.

The goal for the future, said Shelton, is to create the architecture that will combine information technology, transportation and logistics into one system to supply the warfighter.

The rapid speed, organization and efficiency of the commercial world must be duplicated for military transportation and logistics, said Shelton.

To prove his point, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff related a story from Operation Desert Storm duty in 1990. At the time, the then brigadier general was serving as the assistant division commander for operations of the 101st Airborne Division.

"We needed some helicopter parts desperately," said Shelton. "Finally, I went to Dhahran (Saudi Arabia) and looked through about 20 Conexs (military shipping containers).

"I finally found what we were looking for in a container in the back row--the parts were in the container hidden behind some concertina wire."

Shelton said modern transportation and logistics techniques will safeguard this type of incident from happening anymore.

"When we have visibility of all our assets," said Shelton, "there is a link between operations and focused logistics."

"This will greatly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the warfighter" he said. "I am totally committed to it"

The Kosovo Conflict provided a recent example of asset visibility, said Shelton. One service ran short of cruise missiles, while a second had ample quantities. For the first time, said Shelton, the joint task force commander ordered the redistribution, across service lines.

End result? The air campaign proceeded as planned.

Shelton suggested the following goals to improve transportation and logistics in the Department of Defense:

* Long-term relationships with industry and the use of commercial solutions to meet many military challenges;

* Improved theater distribution and transportation through time-definite delivery; and

* Logistics systems that are easy to understand, seamless in execution, and transparent to the warfighter.

"We have a considerable number of challenges ahead of us" said Shelton. "We have to capitalize on everything in the art of the possible"

What about the rapidly expanding world of computer technology?

"I think we have to embrace technology," said Shelton. "We have to think in a revolutionary manner."

Shelton became the 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Oct. 1, 1997. In this position, he serves as the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council.

Before serving in his present position, Shelton was the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He entered military service in 1963 after commissioning through the ROTC program at North Carolina State University.
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Title Annotation:Department of Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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