Any Marine will tell you that the motto of the Corps, Semper Fidelis, means "always faithful"- faithful to the nation, to the mission and to each other. But ask them if this arm of the U.S. armed forces is always ready with the gear and weaponry that the warfighter needs in the field, and they might demur.
At least that's the way it used to be. For decades, Marine Corps leadership at every level had to manually gather, brief and forward logistical operational information to the next higher headquarters. This daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly assemblage of data was labor intensive and time consuming.
Just how bad things were was realized in 2006. That year, the Commandant of the Marine Corps commissioned Northrop Grumman to assess Corps progress toward implementing total life cycle management (TLCM) of ground equipment across its enterprise. The result – an uncomplimentary “F+” – wasn't pretty.
Several goals were established to implement enterprise-wide TLCM. Medium goals included publishing an e-TLCM strategy with associated goals and metrics to measure USMC performance and creating an e-TLCM common operating picture for use on the CMC SharePoint site that displays information regarding validated force protection weapon systems and equipment Urgent Universal Need Statements. The long-term goal was to create an enterprise level e-TLCM medium that effectively displays the status of all Marine Corps ground equipment, including data validation, funding, acquisition, delivery, sustainment, disposal and reutilization. When developed, the e-TLCM medium was to be incorporated into decision support systems to ensure enterprise visibility of TLCM strategy and goals captured early in the requirements identification phase. These goals became the genesis of what is now called TLCM-OST, or total life cycle management-operational support tool.
For help, the Corps turned to Concurrent Technologies Corp., an independent, nonprofit, applied scientific research and development professional services organization, that specializes in life cycle management solutions.
TLCM-OST rationalizes reporting capabilities and functions of the USMC relevant logistics information technology systems portfolio and combines them into a single application. It aligns and augments USMC Logistics Automated Information Systems (LOG-AIS), providing strategic and operational business intelligence without overlapping efforts. Additionally, leveraging a robust database environment of more than 22 authoritative source data systems, TLCM-OST transforms historical logistics data into information that can be used to analyze trends and identify emerging challenges to provide a dynamic and adaptable view of ground equipment readiness.
The TLCM-OST information is derived from a single logistics data repository that integrates logistics, acquisitions and financial data supplied by the USMC and other Department of Defense transactional authoritative data sources. Saving thousands of man-hours normally allocated to manual data pulls and validation, TLCM-OST provides the Marine Corps with reliable logistical intelligence that can be accessed instantly by any authorized user in any clime and place in the world.
The system covers all ground equipment used by USMC operating forces and maintains the history of those items that have come to the end of their lifecycle. Operating forces (OPFOR) that are forward deployed have the same capability through TLCM-OST as the Remain Behind Elements (RBEs) in garrison. While the primary focus for TLCM-OST is geared toward executive leadership's decision-making process, it is just as beneficial to the equipment user, the logistics analyst, and the external agencies that support them.
One of the challenges to developing TLCM-OST was the need for a robust data management system that assists with identifying emerging TLCM issues, measures performance against standards, and helps decision-makers make informed decisions by giving them ready access to synthesized information. The solution was the master data repository (MDR). From the more than 22 data sources captured within the MDR, 36,940 data elements are analyzed and presented in an intuitive format. Customized and canned views of the data can reflect all ground equipment within the USMC at an enterprise, organization, life cycle process segment, or material solution level.
An additional challenge involved the data discipline and maintaining accurate information in legacy systems within the Corps. The USMC has multiple legacy logistics information systems that have been fielded as segregated, stand-alone, independent systems. The lack of a systematic data integration strategy and inconsistent reporting across the enterprise for critical logistics data compromised equipment accountability and visibility.
The USMC implemented a large data-cleansing effort. A critical component of the TLCM-OST capability is the Principal End Item Identification Dashboard, which identifies data discrepancies among the three cataloging, registration and allowances systems in the Corps. With automatic updates on a daily basis, these reports, housed in TLCM-OST, have provided planners and analysts the means to improve data reporting thereby increasing confidence in the reporting metrics, which indicates the degree to which the data within the systems has been improved.
TLCM-OST is organized into three pillars that provide information to multiple audiences within the USMC enterprise, and currently, three logistic functional areas that drill deeper into specific areas.
The first pillar is enterprise asset employment (EAE), which provides entry to the OPFOR view of the out-of-stores equipment posture and readiness. The EAE contains views and calculations that help the end item user make decisions with regard to operational planning and maintenance. USMC Expeditionary Force Commanders as well as battalion commanders can quickly access and query TLCM-OST and make informed decisions whether the maintenance cycle is on track for releasing the equipment required for contingency exercises and operations. Commanders can also quickly access the status of outstanding requisitions and drill down to analyze the cause of those requisition delays and inventory shortages.
The next pillar, enterprise asset management, is specific to the equipment posture and life cycle management of the equipment and provides program managers, item managers and acquisitions specialists a one-stop shop to view requirements, funding information, equipment availability and accountability, parts and materiel sustainment, disposal and reutilization, and current and historical readiness measures with regard to particular Table of Authorized Material Control Number equipment sets. Program and item managers can view how a specific item is currently stratified throughout the USMC and quickly identify where equipment shortfalls exist so that they can be resolved. Additionally, the item managers can view information such as the status and age of supply requisitions as well as view the most ordered and back ordered parts required to support a specific platform and adjust inventory levels to better meet the requirements of the enterprise, thus reducing equipment down time.
The final pillar, enterprise asset forecasting, provides planners with various forecasting tools to assist in financial planning, equipment distribution planning, maintenance planning, and supply planning that is necessary to restore organizations and equipment to full operational capability upon return from various exercises and deployments.
In addition to the three pillars, TLCM-OST currently provides a look into three of the six functional areas of military logistics. Because military logistics encompasses a wide range of support activities, it is broken down into six functional areas: supply, maintenance, transportation, general engineering, health services, and other services. TLCM-OST currently provides reporting views into data supporting: supply, maintenance, and financial, which typically falls within the other services functional area.
TLCM-OST combines current and historical business intelligence information from supply, maintenance management, and other Corps legacy systems into one reliable data repository that can be accessed in seconds from anywhere. This significantly decreases time spent gathering data from multiple systems, thus providing more time to identify and resolve issues. TLCM-OST is the answer for supply and maintenance readiness visibility.
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