General: Common commercial technologies can help military

Most new cars have a simple readout on the dashboard that gives the driver an estimate on how many miles are left on a tank of gas. That's a feature the military must have on its vehicles, said Gen. Benjamin Griffin, head of the Army Materiel Command.

"I need that on military vehicles, and I need that information to be transmitted," he told the Northern Virginia chapter of Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Friday. "Think about what that would mean to a logistician."

There would be no more calls to units in the field, asking, "Where are you and how much fuel do you need?" Griffin said. "We need those kind of diagnostic tools."

The fuel gauge is just one example of commercial technologies the military is looking for to increase efficiencies and promote "jointness," or the ability for the various military branches to operate together.

The military has made great strides with communications and networking capabilities, but it's still a challenge to connect soldiers in the field, he said.

"That's the toughest, when you break that wire and go to line of sight and out of line of sight communications," he told the luncheon crowd.

One initiative the Materiel Command is pursuing is "factory-to-foxhole" visibility, so the command can better serve what Griffin deems its customers.

The customer must have information such as where repair parts are and when they will be delivered, he said. "That kind of information really gets at readiness," he said.

Part of this visibility includes closer partnering with contractors, manufacturers and technology companies, which now are setting up shop in depots. "We have to reach out more," he said.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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