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Transforming the Military for the 21st Century

By Partnership for Public Service

Alan Estevez - Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense U.S. Department of Defense

Alan Estevez has an unenviable job. It is his responsibility to develop polices and processes to ensure that the vast quantities of food, fuel, medicine, clothing munitions and weapons parts needed to sustain globally deployed US forces are available to them. To do his job, he has to work across the Department of Defense and with 60,000 suppliers of materiel. He has to be absolutely certain that DoD processes ensure every single deployed Service member has what he or she needs, when he or she needs it, because otherwise that person's life may be at risk. It might sound impossible, but Estevez has uncovered a key to getting the job done, and his work is transforming military logistics for the 21st century.

To understand the difficulty of Estevez's job, it is important to understand our military history of logistical problems. During Desert Storm, the inability of military commanders to track and locate shipped containers was well-documented, and more than half of the 40,000 cargo containers shipped to the theater, including $2.7 billion worth of spare parts, went unused. The Army estimated that if an effective method for tracking and locating cargo had been in place during Desert Storm, it would have saved them $2 billion.

To determine the most effective ways to improve our military's logistical operations, the Department of Defense looked to the private sector to see how they do business. Alan Estevez, as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Supply Chain Integration, was charged with creating improvements and efficiencies in the military supply chain. Alan saw companies like Wal-Mart looking to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to coordinate the flow of goods in and out of their warehouses. He began the development of policies and processes that would require vendors to use of this technology when shipping supplies to DoD, thereby bringing the technology being implemented by the world's largest retailer to use for the world's most powerful fighting force.

Alan was also instrumental in the development and deployment of a worldwide RFID infrastructure called the In-Transit Visibility network, which significantly improved the tracking of military supplies. The result of this initiative and other reforms promoted by Estevez has been marked improvements in the efficiency of military logistics and significant savings for our military.

Estevez's technologies are altering the way the Pentagon plans and executes military operations. Critical supplies in the theater can be located and deployed in minutes, as opposed to days during Desert Storm.

Alan Estevez saw that new technologies were changing the way business was done in America, and he was determined to see that our military was not left behind. He met with members of the private sector and helped put the latest technology to work for our armed forces, taking the factory to the foxhole. Estevez is making the seemingly impossible possible, and the result of his work is a more effective and more efficient fighting force.

Estevez's contributions were recognized when he received the National Security Medal, one of the Service to America Medals, on September 28, 2005.

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