Machine learning and artificial intelligence software project by DARPA will aid DoD logistics challenge

ARLINGTON, Va. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has embarked on a project for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) it calls the "LogX program" that aims to develop and demonstrate software for real-time logistics and supply-chain system situational awareness (diagnosis), future state prediction (prognosis), and resilience at unprecedented scale and speed.

The goal of LogX is to build a system using machine learning, artificial intelligence, and specialized software that will work alongside existing logistics information systems that exploits the recent migration of logistics information to digital formats and the cloud.

Information from DARPA reveals that the DoD’s Joint Logistics Enterprise, which covers supply-chain and logistics operations, handles mustering, transport, and sustainment of U.S.  military power anywhere in the world at a high level of readiness, but to operate successfully in an increasingly contested global security environment, the enterprise must change its reliance on thousands of disparate legacy information systems, which cannot coordinate the status of millions of military parts, supplies, and equipment the military stocks and ships around the world.

John Paschkewitz, DARPA program manager in the Strategic Technology Office, said about military logistics: "The DoD Joint Logistics Enterprise is immense. Most people don’t realize that the Air Force alone operates a fleet of aircraft four times the size of one of the largest U.S. airlines. The supply chain inventory to sustain the Air Force fleet has been estimated to be as large as multiple Fortune 500 companies combined. Add the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps’ needs, and you see how enormous the department’s global logistics and supply systems are, dwarfing any commercial logistics system.”

“DARPA is exploring the flexibility of systems that can be composed by operators to meet varying mission needs as part of its Mosaic Warfare concept, which moves the enterprise from one that is ‘built to order’ with long response times and low flexibility to an agile ‘assemble to order model,’” Paschkewitz continued. “This shift will require profound changes in inventory management, positioning, and logistics information awareness beyond the obvious changes in weapons systems and tactics. It will also require a different approach than commercial just-in-time (JIT) systems to have adequate resilience. A new logistics approach is required to viably compose and sustain a Mosaic fighting force, and information awareness is the critical enabler.”

DARPA held a Proposers' Day in June 2019 for the LogX program; the agency expects to begin development in earnest on the program in February 2020.