The legacy system the military use for its extremely complex logistics network is likely to be no match against what blockchain can do for the U.S. Air Force. The technology is capable of improving transparency and trust across all tiers in a supply chain, thus addressing some of their most pressing issues.
The military struggle to track parts that are sourced and assembled into equipment in different regions and frequently deployed overseas. Current information systems are limited but are easier to understand at first sight. Distributed ledger technology requires a longer learning curve but it is likely to result in huge savings for the Defense budget and to the U.S. taxpayer over the long term.
The U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), which is an Ohio-based graduate school for the United States Armed Forces, intends to incorporate the tutorial videos into classroom exercises or business meetings, Modern Materials Handling reported. The free education tool should boost know-how inside the military and, in time, be a driver of blockchain disruption from the inside.
Introducing blockchain technology to its supply chain operations won’t happen in a day. It will take time, planning, and the buy-in of decision-makers throughout the organization.
AFIT has partnered with private supply chain security firm SecureMarking and the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business in order to develop a multi-echelon supply chain scenario and the blockchain application around it. The scenario involves an Air Force program manager issuing digital tokens which are assigned to components and then transferred from one company to the next in the blockchain.
Only the Air Force program manager has full visibility to all components in the supply chain, but suppliers are able to add additional information to a token. The scenario is meant to prepare the military in charge to the distributed nature of the blockchain in which every transaction is permanently recorded.
The scenario also leads to questions about a future blockchain-powered application for the U.S. Air Force supply chain, such as the visibility into the overall chain, the incentive structure, the activities involved, and public vs private nature of the blockchain.
In 2014, it was reported that the United States Central Commands were studying bitcoin. The goal was to understand how the cryptocurrency works in order to gain an advantage over wrongdoers who could be making use of it for the purpose of terrorism financing. The general policy counsel at the Bitcoin Foundation, Jim Harper, took part in a discussion with the military on this very topic.