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Contractor Logistics Support (CLS)


Contracted weapon system sustainment consisting of multiple maintenance and support functions that occurs over the life of a weapon system.

General Information

Additional Views

In addition the to above generally accepted definition of CLS, there are other variations to include the following:

US House Report 112-110 entitled Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) states "although there is no uniform definition of Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) throughout the Department of Defense, it is broadly defined as contracted weapon system sustainment that occurs over the life of the weapon system. Examples of CLS include contractor provided aircraft and engine overhaul, repair and replenishment of parts, sustaining engineering, and supply chain management."

The above House Report goes on to cite a 2009 RAND Report called Contractor Logistics Support in the US Air Force that amplified the definition, stating "contractor sustainment of a weapon system that is intended to cover the total life cycle of the weapon system and generally includes multiple sustainment elements. CLS does not include interim contractor support, a temporary measure for a system's initial period of operation before a permanent form of support is in place. CLS also excludes contractor sustainment support for a specific sustainment task that the Air Force would otherwise conduct itself; a typical example would be a weapon system's prime contractor providing sustaining engineering."

Title 10 USC Section 4324 identifies CLS as one of five product support arrangement (PSA) types or categories.

Service Perspectives

The Army Regulation (AR) 700-127 glossary states, "logistics support of Army materiel performed under contract by commercial organizations (including the original manufacturer) is considered CLS. Support provided may include materiel and facilities, as well as services, in the following areas: supply and distribution; maintenance; training; software support; rebuild or overhaul; modification; materiel support." In addition, Para 4-15a identifies CLS as "a support strategy to be used only when support cannot be provided by Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements and is in the best interest of the government based on appropriate analysis. CLS will be used only when the selection of alternatives through Product Support Arrangements (PSAs), the analysis of product support alternatives (APSA)*, and LCSP (Life Cycle Sustainment Plan) support a CLS determination." (Note: an APSA may be conducted in accordance with procedures for a Product Support Business Case Analysis).

Department of the Air Force Instruction (AFI) 63-101/20-101 states CLS contracts are "written based on characteristics for performance based logistics" and "are crafted to identify ranges of outcome performance with thresholds and objectives and the target price (cost to the user) for each level of capability."  Further, CLS contracts "should be flexible enough" to "accommodate changes in operational tempo (OPTEMPO) or execution year funding including surge or contingency requirements to the extent that they can be defined." (para. 7.14.4)

Marine Corps Order (MCO) 4200.33, Para 4.a. defines CLS as “a method of obtaining logistics support for a product or service for a specified period of time. It may be implemented to provide total support for a product or system or to support one or more specific functions (e.g., maintenance, supply and distribution, training, information technology, and software/hardware support). CLS may be provided through commercial or government sources. CLS may encompass an entire system, individual system components, or a level of support services associated with the system or any and/or all of its components.”

A prior version of the Navy’s OPNAVINST 3000.12 (3000.12A) defined CLS as “a strategy for weapon system life cycle support where the contractor manages (and may also own) the inventory, determine stockage levels, typically repairs non-serviceable material, and is required to meet specific performance metrics.” OPNAVINST 3020.12 defines a similar concept of System Support Contract as "a pre-arranged contract awarded by a Service acquisition program management office that provides technical support, maintenance, and, in some cases, repair parts for selected military weapons and support systems." 


While a Performance Based Logistics (PBL) arrangement can be a PSA with a contractor, it is important to note that CLS is NOT synonymous with PBL. PBL is defined in the 22 November 2013 Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness (ASD(L&MR)) PBL Comprehensive Guidance Memorandum as being "...synonymous with performance based life cycle product support, where outcomes are acquired through performance based arrangements that deliver Warfighter requirements and incentivize product support providers to reduce costs through innovation. These arrangements are contracts with industry or inter-governmental agreements. Attributes of an effective PBL arrangement include:

  • Objective, measurable work description that acquires a product support outcome.
  • Appropriate contract length, terms, and funding strategies that encourage delivery of the required outcome
  • A manageable number of metrics linked to contract requirements that reflect desired Warfighter outcomes and cost reduction goals.
  • Incentives to achieve required outcomes and cost reduction initiatives.
  • Risks and rewards are shared between government and commercial product support integrators and providers.
  • Synchronization of product support arrangements to satisfy Warfighter requirements."

DoDI 5000.91 paragraph 4.7c states "While performance-based PSAs may be a key component of a program's performance-based lifecycle product support solution, this does not mean that all arrangements with industry will be performance-based logistics contracts.  PBL contracts are utilized when analysis indicates they can effectively reduce cost and improve performance."  For a broader discussion on this topic, please consult the Defense Acquisition Magazine article "Product Support - The Key to Warfighter Readiness."

Given today's Contested Logistics Environment and the need to be responsive to changing operational conditions to meet Combatant Commander needs to flex (quantity, type, and location) and surge (accelerate or increase) support where needed, when assessing various PBL and CLS alternatives, analysis should include, where appropriate, delivery of support in a manner capable of meeting these requirements.

Finally, note Title 10 USC 2460, Definition of Depot-Level Maintenance and Repair, states “…the term "depot-level maintenance and repair" can include both ICS and CLS. Specifically, this Code states that "except as provided in subsection (b)) material maintenance or repair requiring the overhaul, upgrading, or rebuilding of parts, assemblies, or subassemblies, and the testing and reclamation of equipment as necessary, regardless of the source of funds for the maintenance or repair or the location at which the maintenance or repair is performed. The term includes…. (2) interim contractor support or contractor logistics support (or any similar contractor support), to the extent that such support is for the performance of services described in the preceding sentence." (emphasis added)