Armed with New Software

February 5, 2010 by Benjamin Blaume

Logistics is just the start – the Bundeswehr is modernizing its IT systems with SASPF (photo: Benjamin Blaume)

Logistics is just the start – the Bundeswehr is modernizing its IT with SASPF (photo: Benjamin Blaume)

With the Standard Application Software Product Family – known as the acronym SASPF – the German armed forces are currently standardizing their entire software systems. And the need is great. Currently, the Bundeswehr uses more than 1,000 different software programs, and some of them are not networked, are outdated, and are not compatible with one another.

The SASPF project kicked off in 2001. Back then, the Bundeswehr opted for SAP R/3 to form the basis of its new IT system. In close cooperation with SAP, it developed the component SAP for Defense Forces & Public Security (DFPS), which is tailored to meet the special needs of the military. Currently, around 15 NATO states use or are implementing SAP products for their armed forces.

After the rollout, the 1st Armored Division will become the world’s first fighting unit to deploy SAP DFPS. From February 2011 – when the 1st Armored Division will depart with some of its 22,000 soldiers to head the armed forces in Afghanistan – SASPF will also be used in combat. According to Major General Markus Kneip, commander of the 1st Armored Division, the Bundeswehr plans to use 2010 to gather in-depth experience with the new system.

SASPF is already in action in other areas of the armed forces, too. The software has been rolled out successfully in the areas of defense administration, personnel administration, parts of integrated training management, and parts of logistics. Nevertheless, the 1st Armored Division will be the first military unit in the world to rely completely on the new system for its IT activities. At the moment, some 38,000 users already work with SASPF in the Bundeswehr.

Next Page: €10 billion by 2016

Tailored access: SASPF users are given authorization depending on their rank.

Tailored access: SASPF users are given authorization depending on their rank.

From Kabul to Konstanz: SASPF enables soldiers to access important data in real time. (photo: Benjamin Blaume)

From Kabul to Konstanz: SASPF enables soldiers to access important data in real time. (photo: Benjamin Blaume)

€10 billion by 2016

A project of this magnitude costs a great amount of time and money. But how much money exactly? Some €10 billion in ten years, according to State Secretary Rüdiger Wolf, who revealed the figure as part of an SASPF presentation held in the German town of Augustdorf, where the 1st Armored Division is mainly based. However, most of this sum is not being channeled into SASPF but into HERKULES, the Bundeswehr’s other mammoth project. HERKULES involves the comprehensive modernization of the army’s hardware and software, and establishes the framework for SASPF.

State Secretary Wolf stressed that the money has been very well invested – because the new system speeds up day-to-day processes tremendously. This was clearly demonstrated by Lieutenant Colonel Axel Wöhrmann, commander of the Logistics Battalion 7, with his soldiers.

A defect in an armored personnel carrier of the type “Marder” is registered in the Logistics Battalion’s headquarters. The order is entered in the SASPF logistics system, which makes the information available on all the PCs that have access to the SASPF server. The individual stages of maintenance – such as procuring spare parts and approving costs – are passed through electronically from start to finish. What used to take days by regular mail now happens in real time, because all soldiers – regardless of whether they are stationed in Kabul, Kunduz, or Augustdorf – can access the same datasets. As a result, a complete situation report can be called up at any time.

But not only the area of logistics profits from the new software. By 2016, the nine main processes – that is, personnel, organization, controlling, armament and logistics, infrastructure and environmental protection, individual training, healthcare for soldiers, accounting, and Bundeswehr planning – are slated to be mapped in SASPF. By then, the entire German armed forces will have switched to the SAP product family.

Rollout roadmap through 2012 for the Bundeswehr (photo: Benjamin Blaume)

Rollout roadmap through 2012 for the Bundeswehr (photo: Benjamin Blaume)

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