Thursday, July 19, 2018
Military News

Howard Altman: CentCom hoping Logwerx brings innovation to logistics

Army Maj. Gen. Edward Dorman III, the guy in charge of U.S. Central Command's logistics directorate, has the tough job of making sure troops in the CentCom region have food, ammunition, fuel and other supplies.

So he's taking a page out of the playbook of U.S. Special Operations Command, his neighbor at MacDill Air Force Base, and creating what he hopes is a quicker way of getting those troops what they need.

Dorman calls it Logwerx.

The idea is based on SOCom's Sofwerx program, created in 2015 as a way to speed up delivery of special operations-specific goods and services by bringing academics, entrepreneurs and other innovators together with commandos to find solutions to capabilities gaps.

There's a huge difference, of course, between what the two combatant commands can do when it comes to acquiring things.

SOCom, which synchronizes the global war against violent extremists and is responsible for providing fully trained and equipped commandos, has a special authority to spend billions every year to do so.

CentCom, overseeing military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, has no such authority, instead relying on the individual services to equip its forces.

But that doesn't mean CentCom's leaders, and the troops they command, don't have their own ideas.

How important is logistics?

Speaking at a session of the Defense Innovation Summit, Tuesday through Thursday at the Tampa Convention Center, Dorman pointed to the example of Napoleon marching across Europe in the early 19th Century. To make a long story short, his troops marched farther faster than their loaded-down wagons of supplies. It was a disaster. The French general later remarked that amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.

Fast forward to now, and an Army brigade commander returning from Afghanistan, talking about how "bandwith and energy management" are his two most important resources — even more than bullets.

Enter Logwerx.

The concept, Dorman said in an interview Tuesday, is in its nascent stages within CentCom's MacDill headquarters.

"We want to look at the best of the breed that exists in terms of new technologies and how we can help ourselves to be more innovative," he said.

Dorman's idea differs from Sofwerx in that it won't deal with things as much as ideas. And instead of rapidly fielding things, it will send ideas up to the Joint Staff in Washington. But Logwerx relies on the same general concept of bringing in academics, entrepreneurs and other innovators to generate those ideas.

A physical location, like the Sofwerx building in Ybor City, is a long way off if it ever comes, Dorman says. And because the idea is to work with other geographic combatant commands on shared logistic needs, Tampa is not necessarily its ultimate location.

Or maybe it will be set up at Sofwerx.

"Why not leverage what you know?" Dorman asked.

•••

The Department of Defense announced the death of a soldier serving as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Spc. Alexander W. Missildine, 20, of Tyler, Texas, died Oct. 1 in Salah ad-Din Province, Iraq, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy. The incident is under investigation. He was assigned to the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Polk, La.

There have been 2,347 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 43 U.S. troop deaths and one civilian Department of Defense employee death in support of the follow-up, Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan; 39 troop deaths and two civilian deaths in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against the Islamic State; one troop death in support of Operation Odyssey Lightning, the fight against Islamic State in Libya; and one death classified as other contingency operations in part of the global war on terrorism.

Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

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