Modernizing the Navy’s Supply Chain

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The COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns about global supply chains, driving government leaders to take a close look at defense logistics and supply chain management. Today, experts say that emerging cloud-native and artificial intelligence technologies hold the key to creating robust supply chains capable of withstanding attacks in cyberspace or contested logistics environment.

As Hannah Clifford, senior executive director of commercial technology at ManTech's Innovation and Capabilities Office notes, "It is important to look at the supply chain in multiple dimensions and see how diverse data points in the ecosystem impact delivery of products, services and supplies."

Given tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, securing U.S. Navy logistics and supply chain management is a vital defense imperative. As INDO PACOM strategy evolves, logistics and maintenance capabilities need to keep pace with an expanded Navy presence — a task that depends on supply chain visibility and resilience in contested environments.

“The most important thing is the sharing of data,” Clifford said. “Total transparency between systems and vendors providing supplies to the Navy to ensure full visibility of what is out there at the right time so Navy can make informed command decisions.”

ManTech is helping its customers, including the Navy, leverage Google Workspace and market-leading logistics platforms such as Apigee to foster collaboration and visibility. Partnering with Google Public Sector, in particular, allows organizations to integrate a product suite that is authorized at DoD Impact Level 4 or higher to support the degree of security necessary for Naval operations.

"The same tools that are available in the commercial space should parlay into what we're providing to our sailors, optimizing productivity and driving mission success," Clifford said.

These tools also enable proactive supply chain management. Looking to the near future, Clifford described the potential impact of emerging capabilities such as cloud-native technologies and AI-enabled modeling to forecast and mitigate disruptions.

Integrating defense datasets with external and commercial datasets, including weather predictions or even social media feeds, would enhance threat prediction and allow the Navy to better forecast its supply chain.

“The idea of digitally twinning the supply chain from sourcing through operations and understanding how these things dynamically work together is exciting,” Clifford said. “Twinning your entire supply chain enables forecasting how disruptions might impact operations and quickly finding alternative sources or material with the same level of security as your primary chain.”

Ultimately, Clifford said, the goal is to achieve three essential objectives for Navy supply chain management: uninterrupted operations, ironclad security and cost savings. The success of this balancing act will depend on solutions that reduce technical debt, enhance visibility, and simplify data collection and sharing.

Comprehensive datasets will fuel advanced AI algorithms to produce forecasts that are detailed, precise and secure. Given the sensitivity of defense data and operations, every component of the supply chain must be secure by design. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

“It’s so important that we protect this data, especially the AI algorithms that we’re creating and the models that we’re developing,” Clifford said. “The future is about collaboratively sharing data in a secure way to make our logistics and supply chains more effective, more efficient and more resilient.”

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