Enhanced logistics are a critical enabler in all operational domains of Member States’ Armed Forces. However, when it comes to logistics, Europe’s capability landscape is neither coherent nor fully enabled to support large high readiness operations or smaller long-term operations and missions deployed far away.
In the context of CSDP missions and operations, the EU Military Committee (EUMC) has linked a total of thirteen identified Capability Codes and Statements (CCS) to the EU Capability Development Priority “Enhanced Logistics and Medical Supporting Capabilities”. The coexistence of heterogenous national logistic systems build around specific organisations and processes tailored to individual needs, as well as their isolated adaptation to technological innovations, are the biggest hurdles to overcome in order to increase the coherence of the European capability landscape across all planning horizons.
The 2018 EU Capability Development Plan revision identified four areas/actions to enhance logistics at European level: explore the benefits of cooperation with commercial logistic operators; develop future generation logistic systems to streamline supply chain solutions; develop procedures for renewable energy solutions; and optimise the logistic footprint using Additive Manufacturing.
Besides these higher strategic approaches, EDA also works on identifying collaborative opportunities in order to address Member States’ various requirements and demands on operational level.
AM – ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING FOR LOGISTIC SUPPORT
In 2018, EDA delivered a feasibility study on Additive Manufacturing (AM) for logistics support. Its main conclusion was that defence is a highly procedural sector. The main AM revolution for Member States’ Ministries of Defence is logistical rather than technical. At this stage, AM has reached its objectives within the R&T framework at EDA. A new approach is now required to make of this technology a military capability under the umbrella of the Agency’s logistics support.
A capability demonstration of AM was organised during the Exercise Capable Logistician 2019 (CL19), in cooperation with France and Spain, in order to move AM from the R&T to the capability development level. A fully equipped AM container was deployed with the aim of testing and demonstrating AM in real conditions in the land domain and to seek interest for a follow-on activity under EDA umbrella.
Based on the capability demonstration at CL19, EDA proposed to establish a follow-on activity on AM for logistics support. Member States approved EDA’s proposal and agreed to conduct a subject matter expert workshop on AM on 16 January 2020, back-to-back with the 1st European Military Additive Manufacturing Symposium 2020 organised by Germany. The participants of the workshop identified eight areas for action to introduce AM as a military capability. The aim is now to establish an AM work strand under the umbrella of EDA.
2. AM activities within EDA
AM is handled differently by the various EDA participating Member States. Most of them are still at the R&T phase with their AM activities whereas a few have already moved beyond the R&T domain and are implementing AM as a military capability, mainly based on their experiences gained during military missions. Furthermore, participating Member States have different national approaches and different levels of ambition. They could therefore benefit from a common structured and harmonised approach.
Within EDA, various AM related work strands have been established. Under the umbrella of the Research, Technology and Innovation Directorate (RTI), the following work strands are already operational or in the process of being established:
- The Additive Manufacturing of Metallic Auxetic Structures and Materials for Lightweight Armour (AMALIA) Cat B project: it aims at enhancing the performances of ballistic protections via the implementation of a tailored structure based on auxetic structures and implemented through a specific alloy developed for ballistic application. This alloy will be tailored for additive manufacturing technology;
- The Additive Manufacturing Techniques for Energetic Materials (AMTEM) Cat B project: it aims at investigating and assessing appropriate materials and related AM production techniques, with a view to producing new types of warheads and propellants with enhanced performances, and to ensuring faster and cheaper production as well as rapid prototyping. The research project is also expected to help develop new munitions and missiles systems concepts with increased operational performances, which will further strengthen the European industrial competitiveness;
- The Packaging and Cooling Advanced Technologies (PACKOOL) Cat B project: it aims at optimising the thermal management of the packaging, from chips to modules, boards and then to the housings and the external environment. It intends also to improve the performance of existing microsystems and miniaturised sensors via thermal control. Some thermal technologies will benefit from the emergence of Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) technologies.
The Agency’s Capability, Armament and Planning Directorate (CAP) is also interested in AM as it is developing the Strategic Context Cases – following the EU Capability Development Plan revision in 2018 – in which avenues of approach were identified. EDA intends to avoid unnecessary duplications in the AM domain by taking into account all different national, EU and NATO activities. For that purpose, among others, an expert forum was set up to allow Member States to exchange their AM experiences and best practices.
The European Capability Development Priorities , agreed upon in June 2018 as a result of the CDP revision, identified capability shortfalls in various domains, including Military Mobility, an area already partly addressed by the development of common European procedures for Reception, Staging, Onward Movement (RSOM). The Capability Development Priorities state that “EU Member States’ forces need the ability to coordinate and to enhance the performance of personnel involved in RSOM of material through measures such as augmented reality to monitor parts’ movement and exoskeletons to improve the speed of delivering equipment”.
In the Logistics domain, benefits from cooperation with commercial logistic operators must also be exploited. The CDP notes that “short-term experience as well as longer-term assessment confirms that EU Member States’ forces may need the ability to integrate commercial logistic operators and their systems into military operations. This logistic approach requires appropriate technical and organisational means in place in order to secure commercial systems against cyber or physical attack.”
Finally, next generation logistic systems have been identified as a field of action to streamline supply chains. The CDP states that “EU Member States’ forces will need to deploy scalable ‘plug-and-play’ logistic control systems to areas of operations where local airbases, ports or other logistic hubs systems may be damaged, destroyed, insecure or unavailable. The long-term analysis points out the possible leverage of commercial sector experience in optimising complex global supply chains.”
Analyses were carried out by EDA and solutions identified to overcome the above-mentioned capability shortfalls. It turned out that all three areas of interest are currently facing the same issue: low quality of communication and exchange of information within a commonly used IT-System.
Member States’ capabilities could be enhanced by following a short, medium and long-term approach as reflected in the Strategic Context Case on Enhanced Logistics (SSC EL). The short-term approach is aiming at:
- Mapping national and commercial logistic IT-systems with an additional view on Track & Trace (T&T) and Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP);
- Developing a concept for harmonising and standardising the current logistics IT-Landscape;
- Developing a strategy on creating a common civilian-military logistics communication system network;
- Developing a concept to embed commercial logistics operators into the military logistics IT-Security networks.
To get an overview of the logistics IT Systems, with its specifications and capabilities, EDA plans to launch a study on Logistic Systems. The study should include findings on the currently used IT-Systems (including mission applications), the IT-specifications and capabilities, T&T capabilities, existing interfaces to other systems, data exchange standards and IT-security standards. Finally, the study should provide recommendations to achieve the prescribed objectives. The study will cover both the military and the civilian area to support an efficient cooperation with civil operators in this regard.
EDA will propose to conduct two workshops with national experts on ERP Systems, T&T and RSOM procedures. The objective is to elaborate and discuss requirements for the before-mentioned study on logistic systems, which should be launched in 2021.
PT LS – PROJECT TEAM LOGISTICS AND SUPPORT
The Project Team Logistics Support aims to serve as a platform between Member States, European Commission, EEAS/EUMS and in close coordination with NATO and relevant stakeholders, as appropriate to foster cooperation and identify collaborative opportunities. The PT LS facilitates a coordinated and overarching approach to all on-going and future activities in the logistics domain.
SoSP - Sharing of Spare Parts
In 2015, twelve Member States (NL, BE, CY, NO, SE, FR, SI, RO, PT, ES, FI and EL) signed the Project Arrangement of the Category B project Sharing of Spare Parts (SoSP). The total duration of this Project Arrangement will be 10 years.
The objective of the SoSP project is to establish a multinational framework, involving agreed principles and procedures between all services of the Armed Forces of the contributing Member States, for the request and the provision of Mutual Logistics Support (MLS) in peacetime and during the execution of operations. The MLS focuses both on an unforeseen and temporary lack of common supplies, as well as on service support for standard or specific equipment. The mutually approved exchange of common supplies and services should be granted priority over any other request, provided that such exchange does not conflict with the respective national laws and regulations, national interests and their commitments under international law. This project is neither an absolute commitment of the Member States to provide the requested supply or service support, nor an absolute guarantee to receive the requested supply or service support. Prior approval of the involved Member States is always required before a specific exchange can be executed.
SoSP offers biannual meetings at expert level and annual meetings at decision-making level.