The brave men and women who serve our country in the face of danger know the true meaning of the term “readiness.”  In laymen terms readiness is knowledge of what you have, where it is, and whether it is ready for use.  For most of us that means the chain saw is in the garage and the last time we checked it was in working order.  But the term takes on a whole new meaning for those who are deployed for patrol through the unpredictable and dangerous streets of Afghanistan. The need for that level of readiness is something most of us will never experience.

Earlier this week, however, the need for high-level readiness took on urgent meaning here at home, as millions of people along the East Coast and into the Midwest faced imminent danger in the form of one of the most destructive hurricanes of our generation – Hurricane Sandy.

First responders and National Guard units are deploying as we speak in an effort to save lives and manage devastating conditions.  Vehicles, helicopters and life support equipment are necessary for local personnel to execute their mission on a moment’s notice. All the while they are no doubt asking:  What do we have to support the mission? Is it ready to deploy? Will we get the results from using the equipment that we expect?

This storm has cast a spotlight on the need for maximum readiness in urgent circumstances right here at home, and readiness at that level can only be achieved through the tracking of critical assets.  Precision readiness calls for IUID or Item Unique Identification – the program used by the Department of Defense for this purpose.  As with so many things military, IUID calls for disciplined procedures. First there is the discipline of assigning a machine readable code such as an IUID or RFID tag. Discipline is also required in using mobile computers for scanning assets at each lifecycle event in order to track the location and condition of each asset. One could argue that the discipline required to maintain readiness is on a par with the discipline to practice life-saving maneuvers.