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Using technology to monitor the success of military operations

By Parul Bhandari, Government and Public Safety National Security Lead for Open and Big Data, Microsoft on February 11, 2016

Filed under Microsoft in Government

As defense organizations plan their deployments, it’s critical that they obtain a comprehensive view of their operations. Only with 360-degree visibility into their military campaigns can commanders be agile enough to respond to changing conditions, rapidly altering their plans as demands dictate.

military operations blogTo demonstrate how defense organizations can combine a highly secure portal with advanced analytics to improve their performance, we recently developed a proof-of-concept portal that tracks the logistics of a brigade deployment. Built on the Microsoft Azure cloud-computing platform, the portal demonstrates how armed forces can obtain the information they need, when they need it, enabling them to make quick, data-driven decisions based on real-time information.

“This a great way to show how we (Microsoft) can solve problems that operational commanders face every day by capitalizing on the Internet of Things (IoT). Each asset is either equipped with connected sensors and devices or have had their status updated through the chain of command to give the Commander and overall view of the brigade. Microsoft Azure is able to collect, sort, store and present the data on the dashboard to give the Commander a powerful decision making tool.”

A.T. Ball, Managing Director, Asia, Public Safety and National Security (former Brigade Commander)

From the time an order is received to the time it is executed, Microsoft technology can help defense organizations plan, direct, monitor, and evaluate the success of their operations. In the case of our proof of concept, for example, a military commander has received orders to move his entire brigade from its current home base to another location to prepare for combat training exercises. Here’s what he can do with the portal:

  • View orders: The commander receives his orders to move his brigade to the training location from within the portal via his on-premises Outlook email.
  • Assess operational readiness: Using the planning page of the portal, the commander can see a detailed status of his entire brigade, including every piece of equipment and the operational readiness of each individual unit, updated in real time.
  • Plan the move: The commander can drill down into each mode of transport—air, road, rail, and sea—to see what transportation assets are moving, their estimated time of arrival, and the current status of each. He can also view a map that shows the real-time location and status of each asset, including how fast it’s moving, the distance from its destination, and a summary of the cargo load it’s carrying.
  • Receive alerts: The commander can receive alerts notifying him of issues as they arise. As a weather system develops, for example, the commander receives an alert via Microsoft Azure Machine Learning informing him that his cargo is being delivered slower than expected due to rough seas.
  • Locate personnel as needed: The commander can use the Person Search tool to locate specific members of his brigade and see what tasks they’ve been assigned. In this scenario, he contacts the relevant personnel to discuss the worsening weather situation. He then notifies relevant personnel in his chain of command who inform him of a nearby location where the sea-based cargo can be transferred to aircraft and flown to the destination.
  • Supervise the move in real time: The commander checks to see the impact of this change on his budget, and then issues the command to ship the critical cargo by aircraft. Through the final days of the operation, he automatically generates and sends daily status reports to his chain of command. He also monitors the dashboard, watching as the transports arrive at their destination and the deployment operation is completed.
  • Evaluate the success of the operation: Once the operation is over, the commander can view a report summarizing high-level information about the deployment mission. Using Microsoft Power BI, he can also compare the deployment with similar ones in the past to discover trends that might help him increase his future efficiency.
  • Monitor the budget: The commander can also evaluate his deployment from a financial perspective, comparing what was budgeted to the actual cost. In addition, he can obtain information about what types of operations and transportation methods typically go over budget and why, so he can plan better for the future.

By combining the real-time command and control monitoring of a secure portal with powerful analytical capabilities, defense organizations have the tools they need to visualize and analyze their entire operations in one place. And as our proof of concept demonstrates, this, in turn, makes it possible for militaries to operate far more effectively. To learn more, please watch a demo of our defense logistical portal in action or request one of our available trials: Azure Government Trial, Office 365 Government Trial.

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