Pentagon Remains Committed to RFID Rollout

The Dept. of Defense remains fully committed to full rollout of radio frequency identification (RFID) for the entire supply chain by 2007, Maj. Gen. Daniel Mongeon, dir.-logistics operations for the Defense Logistics Agency, told several hundred attendees Wed. at DoD's RFID Summit for Industry.

"We are absolutely committed to RFID technology and we are moving out... in a very, very strong partnership with [the Office of the Secy. of Defense] and with our service partners, our industry partners," Mongeon said. "Truly, it is a win-win scenario in terms of our suppliers, in terms of our vendors, in terms of our customers and in terms of our internal operations."

DoD already requires tags for almost all items moved into Iraq or Afghanistan, headed for the main theaters of operations. "We're up to about 96, 97% of those pads into Iraq are RFID tagged," Mongeon said. "It's given us tremendous asset visibility and ensured that the war fighter knows that his parts are coming to him."

DoD published policy guidelines in Aug. for using passive and active RFID tags in the supply chain. The requirements were an expansion of a draft policy released a year ago. The memo mandates that all contracts with the DoD require passive tags on cases, pallets and individual high-value items that currently carry DOD's Unique Identification code (UID).

Kathy Smith, a DoD RFID program official, said under the current schedule the most important items in the supply chain -- including clothing, operational rations, individual equipment and weapon system repair and spare parts - shipped through the main East Coast and West Coast depots, are to be tagged in 2005. In 2006, DoD will add other commodities and other distribution centers. In 2007, all commodities have to be tagged.

Mongeon said the biggest challenge to DoD putting in place a department-wide system has been convincing key officers there of the value of RFID. "I can tell you a few years ago I was on the joint staff when we initially started talking about this," he said. "The services could not see a value added of doing this. Since the services at that time could not see the value added it was very difficult [those] within the Defense Logistics Agency that it was the right thing."