The Ministry of Defence is investing heavily in radio frequency identification tags to track army equipment after being slammed by the Public Accounts Committee last week for not having proper logistics systems.
Despite spending more than £550m since the 1991 Gulf War in computerised asset management systems, the MoD was unable to ensure British troops had the right protective equipment during last year’s invasion of Iraq.
The Public Accounts Committee said many of the problems related to losing track of kit in the supply chain and that an effective tracking system was needed.
Edward Leigh, chairman of the committee, said, "The MoD should put in place an effective consignment tracking system so that commanders on the ground can quickly locate supplies."
The Public Accounts Committee said the forces needed an integrated system. This had been a priority for the Defence Logistics Organisation when it was set up in 2000. The DLO tried to develop a system, the Defence Stores Management Solution, but this had proved to be "unaffordable and technically challenging", said the committee.
An alternative radio frequency tagging system, manufactured in the US, which shows the location of individual kit containers, was adopted but only partly deployed by the time of last year’s conflict.
This technology will form a significant part of a new consignment tracking system that will be phased in over five years. But the Public Accounts Committee said the DLO had yet to determine the final cost of the planned tracking system, and it had yet to be approved by ministers.