ILS-S Unit Deployment Manager (UDM) Asset Management Capability

  • Published
  • By Maurice Rollins and Dr. Steven Reynolds

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE-GUNTER ANNEX, Ala. -- As stated in 2007 by former Air Force Chief of Staff, General John P. Jumper, "... everyone in the Air Force must understand that the day-to-day operation of the Air Force is absolutely set to the rhythm of the deploying Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) force packages ... the natural state of our Air Force when we are doing business is not home station operations but deployed operations."

Under the AEF concept, the Air Force must provide rapidly responsive, tailored-to-need aerospace force capability, prepared and ready to conduct military operations across the full spectrum of military operations. The implementation of the AEF concept has continually evolved since instituted in January 2000, including its newest evolution Air Force Generation , but what hasn’t changed is that to operate successfully, the AEF must be supported with the timely delivery of the necessary logistics, mobility, and equipment.

A vital AEF logistics support element is the ability for bases to fully equip their deploying Airmen with the full complement of Individual Protection Equipment (IPE) required for upcoming AEF deployments. Unit Deployment Managers (UDMs) play a central role in ensuring AEF base level personnel tasked to support AEF requirements are deployment ready. As stated in Air Force Instruction (AFI) 10-403, UDMs “act on behalf of the unit commander to ensure unit personnel and cargo are ready for deployment.” The AFI lists 19 separate tasks that UDMs must perform to assure their unit deployers are clearly identified, medically and administratively prepared, fully trained, and correctly equipped to successfully execute impending downrange deployments. Collectively, the number and complexity of Unit Deployment Management (UDM) tasks can be overwhelming. Furthermore, many of the UDM tasks currently involve the use of lists, spreadsheets, and local ad hoc procedures, so any systematic process improvements that can simplify UDM tasks in a way that eases UDM workloads and enhances data accuracy could significantly improve mission readiness.

In 2020, the AF/A4 Office of Logistics Innovation analyzed an Airmen-generated suggestion for developing systematic capabilities enabling UDMs to proactively equip deploying Airmen with the IPE gear needed to support specific time sensitive expeditionary deployment taskings. After assessing the potential benefits of the suggested process improvement, the Air Staff tasked the Integrated Logistics System – Supply (ILS-S) Program Management Office (PMO) to implement and field new capabilities within the ILS-S application enabling UDMs to systematically document Airmen IPE requirements, submit those requirements to the Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) for fulfillment and track submitted IPE order fulfillment status in near real-time.

In the fall of 2022, the ILS-S PMO began their analysis of the UDM process for identifying and tracking the timely fulfillment of deploying Airmen IPE requirements. Our analysis confirmed that while it was one of the most tedious and time intensive UDM tasks, there were no existing standardized processes or IT tools to assist UDMs in managing this important effort. Following our capability requirements analysis, our team developed detailed process flows and software use cases to document a standardized IT capability that meets UDM needs. The use cases were constructed to address four high level UDM capability requirements.

  • The ILS-S UDM capability enables UDMs to view, modify, create, and delete mobility bag templates.
  • Those mobility bag templates are subsequently used by UDMs as the basis for creating tailored deployment bag requests based on specific Airmen deployment gear needs, including Airmen sizes, item color, and patterns as applicable.
  • The tailored Airmen mobility bag requirements are then systematically communicated to supporting LRS personnel for fulfillment in advance of Airmen deployment dates. The capability provides a status dashboard enabling LRS personnel and UDMs to monitor the status of LRS progress in assembling UDM-requested mobility bags. 
  • When the LRS mobility bag fulfillment actions are completed, the system will send email messages to notify the mobility bag recipients and the applicable UDMs that the assembled mobility bags are available for Airmen pick up. The ILS-S UDM capability also enables a new electronic signature capability for recording Airmen delivery and receipt acknowledgement of the pre-built mobility bags.

The ILS-S team completed the software development and fielded the new ILS-S UDM Asset Management capability to worldwide users in release 6.0.35 on March 14, 2023.

The ILS-S capability provides UDMs with a new IT capability that standardizes a user-friendly, robust process for documenting tailored IPE requirements for deploying Airmen, and systematically submitting those personalized requirements to the supporting LRS mobility support activities for fulfillment. The system also provides an electronic status dashboard that displays near real time fulfillment status for each line item in each submitted mobility bag.

Finally, the new ILS-S capability implements a new process that enables Airmen to electronically acknowledge their receipt of issued mobility bags in lieu of hand-signing receipt acknowledgement documents. Importantly, that new electronic signature capability will be applied to all IPE customer item issues going forward, which will streamline LRS IPE item work processes and improve the worldwide accountability of issued and deployed IPE equipment.

The ILS-S PMO has already documented future enhancements of the UDM Asset Management capability that will further assist UDMs by capturing and applying Airmen IPE item sizing details to future IPE mobility bag builds, providing a dashboard of pending actions to alert LRS personnel when UDM submitted mobility bag requests are awaiting fulfillment action, and to inform UDMs and remind deploying Airmen when there are fulfilled mobility bags at the LRS awaiting their pickup.

This new ILS-S capability will improve and ease the UDM’s mobility bag management process and streamline the LRS mobility bag fulfillment and coordination processes in a way that results in improved logistics support for the AEF deployment process thus resulting in enhanced operational mission success.