In recent years, information technology has significantly increased the efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing, storing, and delivering ammunition. Even so, ammunition managers face an increasingly difficult task of supporting digital-age warfighters operating in today’s complex and data-saturated environment. Cognitive computing, a cutting edge information technology, offers the much needed capability to cut through the complexity of today’s operational environment by enabling ammunition managers to make faster and better-informed decisions improving ammunition management and providing optimized support to warfighters. Increasing the precision of ammunition management will also permit lower inventory levels in storage facilities across the theater, reducing the costs and risks associated with storage.
As technology continues to grow and evolve, approaches like cognitive computing provide robust and resilient means for operations in contested, congested, or intermittent (CCI) environments, achieving greater levels of situational awareness and enabling more accurate and timely decision making. Cognitive computing is the emulation of human thought processes and reasoning. Software systems based on cognitive computing are adaptive, interactive, interative and stateful, and contextual.. Using this innovative technology, applying the data processing capacity of modern computers, and leveraging the network connectivity of today’s battlefield, software systems can be created to convert masses of data to actionable knowledge, providing unprecedented situational awareness and recommendations on improved inventory levels and replenishment quantities.
Extending Ammunition Capabilities with Cognitive Computing
By continuously receiving data inputs from Army systems of record, sensors and units, both on and off the battlefield, and performing basic staff functions on a massive scale, a cognitive-based system would reduce the need for ammunition managers to seek information by wading through extensive data, sending messages or making phone calls. Automatically monitoring ammunition demand and inventory positions across the theater, this system could assist ammunition managers from unit level to theater level by providing refined ammunition requisition recommendations, timely alerts to potential ammunition shortfalls and reasoned recommendations for corrective action. With the challenges of unrefined data and uncertainty dramatically reduced, ammunition managers using this system can make better informed and faster decisions about ammunition allocation and management. Cognitive computing can provide ammunition managers with the following enhanced capabilities:
- Planning Liked to Operations
- Inventory Monitoring
- Adaptive Demand Estimation During Operations
- Dynamic Stockage Recommendations
Planning Linked to Operations
Cognitive computing-based systems allow users to link ammunition plans directly to operations plans and orders during the planning process. While courses of action are developed, time-phased ammunition requirements can be calculated almost instantaneously. This capability allows planners to more quickly evaluate the logistical viability and supportability of potential operations.
Cognitive computing-based systems can also provide inventory awareness by monitoring all units on a continuous basis and providing insight into stockage levels, ammunition requirements, and issues across their areas of responsibility. These systems could provide users with immediate notification of discrepancies and recommendations on how to handle these issues. Cognitive computing systems can mitigate the impacts of lagging resupply by splitting requisitions among multiple higher-level supply sources or cross-leveling among units across the theater.
Adaptive Demand Estimation During Operations
Using predictive analytics, cognitive computing-based systems incorporate the same operational factors and other relevant information it used for initial planning to recommend quantities for upcoming resupply requests. Additionally, they are able to incorporate data feeds directly from the battlefield and all echelons of command and “react” to unanticipated circumstances and trends – operational or situational – alerting users and recommending changes to ammunition allocations. Using artificial intelligence techniques, a cognitive computing-based system has the ability to learn from actual consumption in specific operations and operational conditions to provide adaptive demand estimation throughout the operation.
Dynamic Stockage Recommendations
Cognitive computing-based systems can provide ammunition order recommendations based on actual consumption trends to Material Management Centers (MMCs), Ammunition Supply Points (ASPs), Ammunition Transfer Handling Points (ATHPs), and units, thus, improving precision of inventories across the theater. By tracking ammunition consumption at all units, a cognitive computing-based system can recognize deviations from expected consumption and recommend revised request quantities. These improved replenishments, in the aggregate, dramatically increase the efficient allocation of ammunition across the theater. As a result, less ammunition will need to be moved and stored in the theater, reducing the associated costs and risks.
The Future of Ammunition Management with Cognitive Computing
Cognitive computing technology promises users more efficient and effective support to the ammunition community, enabling better support and confidence for their warfighting customers. Developing this technology will make it possible for our warfighters to have the enhanced capability offered by this innovative system and enjoy far greater confidence in their ammunition supply chain. Enabled by advances in information technology like a cognitive agent architecture, ammunition managers’ ability to meet requirements can be dramatically improved by automatically improving ammunition inventory visibility and helping ammunition managers at all levels to make better estimations of consumption and submit more accurate requisitions. The extended capabilities for Ammunition Managers, outlined using Cognitive Computing techniques will reduce overall ammunition costs due to its more accurate forecasts and the accompanying smaller inventories.
For more information about how Cougaar Software, Inc. builds cognitive computing solutions for the military, please visit http://www.cougaarsoftware.com/supported-industries/military-dod/.
About the Author: Broc Perkuchin is the VP of Government Solutions of Cougaar Software, Inc. and a retired military officer who has held command and staff positions in engineering and logistical organizations across the world.