Supporting Transformation for Defense Organizations

June 15th, 2005, Baltic Sea near Gotland, German Frigate “Brandenburg” on an offshore mission hunting for submarines. During that operation the ship of course has to be secured against air threats using a powerful radar device and Sea Sparrow sea-to-air missiles. But, due to a technical failure the radar is currently not operational endangering the ship and its crew. Urgent help is needed, because the missing spare part is not available on board. Therefore, the request being filed within the frigate’s decentralized mySAP ERP system is forwarded to the operational headquarters at Lillehammer being processed in the central mySAP ERP instance. Since the respective spare part cannot be provided timely from a German depot, a logistic assistance request is send to a Norwegian command and control system using the SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure and a dedicated NATO standard format. An hour later a helicopter is on the way to pick up the spare part…
Is this future vision or state-of-the-art best practice support?

How defense came on board…

Armed Forces started around ten years ago to implement SAP R/3 to keep track with the continuous improvement of standard business software. Also, operating a number of stovepipe systems, each for maintenance, logistics, financials, human resources, and so on, resulted in a huge effort to make integration happen. Moreover, after the cold war came to end, the different services, Army, Air Force, and Navy had to work more closely with each other, this also in an ad-hoc coalition and combined environment. A high level of integration is needed to enable the timely transfer of information, which is critical to “net-centric” warfare – in other words, strategies and tactics used to successfully deploy, operate, and support networked forces. Force contingents from the different NATO countries today can be deployed at short notice to nearly everywhere in the world.
First of all, SAP solutions were used in the military to support all the logistic and administrative processes in their peacetime establishment. But, with more and more commitments abroad and out of region the need to generate operational structures based on a particular mission and to change them quickly and flexibly depending on the situation has grown.
For example, the US Army with their Global Combat Support System strives to provide the Army a “seamless, integrated, modular, and interactive combat service support information management and operations system at all force support levels.” In other words, all the information that is needed to support the warfighter on a deployed operation has to be available in a coherent system landscape. Any request for materiel has to be channeled through from foxhole to factory and the supply chain has to work seamlessly.

A new portfolio has been established

There already has been a lot of support available in SAP’s portfolio before dedicated defense developments started, but of course some major processes being characteristic for armed forces were missing. Starting with a Strategic Development Project with the German Bundeswehr and introducing a new industry portfolio beginning of 2004 with SAP for Defense & Security these gaps have now been closed. With mySAP ERP 2005 all the main prerequisites to support the logistics and administrative processes carried out by armed forces, including those in a distributed system landscape, are now available. This especially recurs to a flexible organizational management fully integrated with logistics and the ability to set up a distributed mySAP ERP system landscape and solutions based on SAP NetWeaver Mobile.
Thus, back to our question: Can we support the described maintenance scenario on our frigate?

SAP participating in a big NATO exercise

CWID IT scenario
CWID IT scenario

Today, it is possible to maintain a decentralized mySAP ERP system on board of a frigate requiring a much reduced effort for administration, also leveraging all the possibilities of remote support. As demonstrated in the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID 2005), a big NATO led interoperability exercise, even unplanned interruptions of a satellite link between the frigate and the headquarters did not result in a loss of data. As soon as the communication was available again, the system reconnected and updated automatically.

But, is connectivity between several ERP instances sufficient to achieve NetCentricity?

How to better integrate defense IT systems

Military organizations not only need enterprise resource planning systems to achieve their mission. They also tend to use acronyms like big IT companies do as well. Thus, BMC4ISR stands for “Battle Management, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance” which ERP is only part of. To support combat operations you also need weapon engagement systems, intelligence gathering, sensor fusion, a lot of communication technology, and command and control information systems. This primarily aims on giving the military commander a Common Relevant Operational Picture (CROP). For example, the German Bundeswehr is just introducing both a fully integrated ERP system and a new Joint Command and Control Information System (JCCIS).
Of course, there is a lot of information available in an ERP system which is also needed for combat service support. For example the current operational structure, any task organization, all information about weapon systems and supply chains, as well as readiness and status of the force. This information now has to be made available for operational planning. Introducing SAP NetWeaver as a platform and delivering the corresponding services enable a seamless integration of both worlds and thereby extremely facilitate the planning process.
SAP has demonstrated on CWID 2005 in Lillehammer, Norway, that this can be achieved using recent technology. mySAP ERP provided data suitable for standard NATO services. For example, information about structure and resources of the NATO Response Force (NRF) could be transferred to ADAMS – the ally’s software system to coordinate deployment and movement of troops – in order to create a detailed deployment plan. Also, organizational data could be sent to command and control systems using the standard NATO format according to ADatP-3, a protocol used to share information following a common data model. Thereby, SAP NetWeaver acts as a platform for enabling an Enterprise Services Architecture at defense organizations. Respective functionality that has been proven on the exercise will already been delivered as an Add-on for mySAP ERP 2005.

Web services in a defense world

Within a web-service enabled architecture military commanders will be aware of urgently needed support for their soldiers in the field or shortfalls in supply for their troops. Using a device of the Mobile Defense Solution for example a supply sergeant can file the amount of ammunition needed for his company to a mobile device which upon the next possibility will be transmitted through a middleware to an adjacent ERP system. This can happen by any means of communication may it be satellite link, fixed line or tactical VHF radio. The respective ERP system can then reach back to the domestic base and forward this request for being processed for example in a central instance of SAP Advanced Planning & Optimization (SAP APO). Although the request might be fulfilled locally replenishment can be initiated on the supplier side. Here again, web services facilitate the communication between the defense agency and industry.
Apparently, maintaining operational tempo and tight integration among all systems involved poses new challenges for information security. In addition to a comprehensive role and authorization concept data in a system of multiple levels of security has to be marked according to its need of protection. This also has to be shown on the graphical user interface. SAP for Defense & Security currently is developing a prototype to file and display classification (like “top secret”) and special handling caveats (like “no foreign nationals”). This project has been specified in cooperation with the user group for the defense market, the Defense Interest Group (DEIG).
By integrating all the relevant information systems on one common platform SAP finally enables the transformation of armed forces to net centric enterprises and provides the prerequisites for quantum leaps in operational effectiveness and efficiency.

Dr.  Achim Krüger
Dr. Achim Krüger