By James E. Foehl, Public Affairs, NAVSUP Business Systems Center
For 27 years, the Navy’s Standard Automated Logistics Tool Set (SALTS) has provided supply personnel with a means of moving logistical and administrative data from a single point of entry to a vast host of databases and data services globally. SALTS is retiring this fall.
Chartered by NAVSUP since its inception, SALTS was initially developed as a supply communications tool used to move Military Standard Requisitioning and Issue Procedures (MILSTRIP) data to and from the battlefield during Operation Desert Storm.
“It started with the Marines over in the desert and eventually expanded to include messaging, payroll data, queries for databases, and other supply-type functions,” said Jim Friedrichs, SALTS, operation manager, NAVSUP Business Systems Center (BSC).
Friedrichs has spent more than 25 years working with SALTS and over 20 years processing supply data for the Navy before retiring as a Master Chief Data Processor.
“In 1991 when everything was stepping up in Kuwait, the operational commanders told the supply guys, ‘we’re fighting a war. Figure out a way to get requisitions back to the U.S., get your status, parts, and all that good stuff,’” he said.
Aviation Supply Office (ASO) in Philadelphia, now known as NAVSUP Weapons Systems Support (WSS), was tasked to come up with a solution. Taking only three weeks to develop and deploy, SALTS was able to send and receive critical supply data from the battlefield.
“They threw a couple of personal computers, portable satellite units, and software together, and were able to send and receive files point-to-point from the desert back to ASO. The requisitions were then fed into the supply system, and statuses were sent back as they came in,” said Friedrichs.
SALTS solved the problem of getting data quickly from deployed ships and units into systems in the U.S. “Having SALTS and a method that’s automated, you could cut down MILSTRIP submission times from days or weeks to minutes,” he said.
There was little to no human intervention required to run SALTS. Customers would dial into the application, the modem would connect them, and the script files in the SALTS program would do all the sending and receiving.
“It’s still done like that to this day,” said Friedrichs.
According to Friedrichs, the magic of SALTS is its ability to automate processing using a black box process.
“It’s a middleware program that reads files, and if something isn’t done correctly, such as sales documents or fund codes, it applies cross-reference tables that will correct it to what it should be.”
The SALTS black box processes ensure the accuracy of food and fuel transactions using programmed logic. Without it, errors would occur and require human intervention to investigate and correct.
That process could take a week or more to fix. In SALTS, it takes two to three seconds to fix.
“At the height of SALTS, we had 51 servers. We were doing everything from hosting websites for Navy commands to providing all kinds of services to get data back-and-forth from wherever it was needed,” said Friedrichs.
For 27 years, SALTS has been used for supply communications both ashore and afloat, providing the capability to upload MILSTRIP requisitions, inventory supply parts, food, and fuel, certify government purchase card statements, and provide financial audit data from the Standard Accounting and Reporting System (STARS).
“It’s an application for Logistics Specialists to do business. It’s fast, efficient, and pretty painless, which is what everybody likes about it,” said Carl Lawson, SALTS project manager, NAVSUP BSC.
While SALTS ease of use has been a critical factor in its longevity, the outdated software has become too costly to redesign with increasing cybersecurity risks.
“SALTS was a mainstay and key system for the fleet for many years, but it became increasingly difficult to support due to more stringent cybersecurity and audit compliance requirements,” said Eric Berry, SALTS information technology (IT) program manager for NAVSUP.
“SALTS does not meet current security architecture requirements for hosting at DoD facilities or in the cloud, so it’s more expedient and cost effective to transfer SALTS functions to other systems vice re-developing SALTS,” said Berry.
With newer systems coming online such as Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and CitiDirect Enhanced, the same capabilities can be performed with more functionality.
STARS reporting is now available through the NAVSUP portal, and Navy supply personnel can use Navy One Touch Support (OTS) for MILSTRIP requisitioning.
OTS is a web-based application sustained by NAVSUP BSC. It consolidates more than two dozen sources of DoD information and improves fleet readiness by reducing the time to submit and track logistics requirements while increasing supply chain visibility.
Lawson noted that the biggest impact on fleet personnel would be the learning curve associated with using different systems.
“To mitigate the impact of transitioning from SALTS to new systems, we’ve created accessible training documents for the fleet that covers how to create an OTS account, create a Defense Logistics Agency account, create Material Obligation Validations, submit MILSTRIPs, and a host of other items,” said Lawson.
These training tools are available for download through both SALTS and OTS at, https://web.salts.navy.mil/ws/
Photo illustration depicting Navy and Marine Corps supply and logistics movement. The Navy’s Standard Automated Logistics Tool Set (SALTS) has provided supply personnel with a means of moving logistical and administrative data from a single point of entry to a vast host of databases and data services globally since 1991. –IIlustration by James E. Foehl, with photos by Sgt. Alisa J. Helin, MC3 Class Spencer Roberts and MC2 Kaila Peters