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Logistics Footprint


Alternate Definition

Logistics footprint is the government/contractor size or ‘presence’ of logistics support required to deploy, sustain, and move a weapon system. Measurable elements include inventory, equipment, personnel, facilities, transportation assets, and real estate.

General Information

The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) addressed the need to reduce the logistics footprint, improve our global mobility, and increase reliability of DoD weapon systems. While mostly written before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, DoD senior leaders were already focusing on stronger links between the Defense Acquisition System (DAS) and the systems engineering process. This linkage provides a framework for the Program Manager (PM) to design-in enhanced system reliability, maintainability, and supportability to achieve the desired reductions in the logistics footprint and the associated life cycle cost. 

Key Resources

Pertinent information on logistics footprint includes but is not limited to the following:

  • USD(AT&L) Memo, Designing and Assessing Supportability in DOD Weapon Systems: A Guide to Increased Reliability and Reduced Logistics Footprint, dtd 24 Oct 2003
    •  PMs must ensure the application of a robust systems engineering process to provide for reliable systems with reduced logistics footprint and total ownership cost (TOC).
    • As early as possible, and before a formal program is established, identify actions necessary to achieve significant increases in reliability and reductions in logistics footprint.
      • The pre-acquisition activities are focused on identifying an affordable, militarily useful capability where needed technologies have been demonstrated in a relevant environment. This includes the demonstration of key supportability related characteristics of the end item as well as new technologies required to reduce logistics footprint and cost-effectively support the system.
      • Reliability, reduced logistics footprint, and reduced system life cycle cost/TOC are most effectively achieved through inclusion from the very beginning of a program – starting with the definition of required capabilities.
    • Performance cannot be considered separate from the other elements of operational effectiveness – they are inextricably linked. The system capabilities and functions represent the desired mission capabilities as a total package, together with the sustainment objectives and the desired logistics footprint reductions.
    • During explorations of system technology opportunities, assessments need to be performed for associated support and maintenance requirements. Explorations should also be performed for specific logistics-related technologies that have the potential to improve maintenance and reduce the logistics footprint, e.g., technologies that would facilitate system diagnostics, prognostics, monitoring, corrosion control, training and documentation, supply support, and asset visibility.
    • The PM's efforts to increase weapon system availability while reducing life cycle costs and logistics footprint must include periodic assessments and, where necessary, improvements of the product support strategy.
  • Joint Publication (JP) 4-0, Joint Logistics
    • Chapter 1, Joint Logistics Imperatives - Efficiency is related directly to the amount of resources required to achieve a specific outcome. In the tactical and operational environments, inefficiency increases the logistics footprint, force protection requirements, and risk. At the strategic level, inefficiency increases the cost and risk for the operation.
    • Chapter 2, Core Logistics Functions - Reducing the joint logistics footprint provides Joint Force Commanders (JFC) with additional options to control the time and place of engagements, increased freedom to operate, and enhanced range, endurance, and agility of employed forces.
  • Defense Acquisition Guidebook (DAG), Chapter 4 - Life Cycle Sustainment
    • The lessons-learned from fielded systems and capability-based assessments may help define the sustainment content in the Initial Capability Document (ICD). These analyses can be valuable in establishing sustainment constraints such as logistics footprint and weight, and human factors such as skill and education levels required for specific maintenance tasks.
    • In relation to metrics: The draft Capability Description Document (CDD) ensures the other sustainment-critical metrics enable the mandatory Sustainment Key Performance Parameters (KPP) and Key Sustainment Attributes (KSA). Examples of these metrics include logistics footprint, maintenance burden, transportability, and Built-In Test Equipment (BITE) fault isolation and detection rates with a false alarm rate.
    • The PM uses the systems engineering process to assess and refine technological and programmatic risks to achieving performance requirements, including sustainment and affordability....This assessment may also include limitations on weight, logistics footprint, manpower availability, and skills.
    • Supportability design requirements may also include logistics footprint restrictions, maintenance personnel skill level restrictions, and transportability requirements, including size and weight restrictions
  • DA- PAM 700-127 
    • The Army’s goal is for materiel to have the smallest logistics footprint needed to effectively provide product support.
    • The Army’s objective of designing effective and efficient support for the materiel is aimed at reducing the overall logistics footprint.
    • All planning should consider the impact of the materiel’s logistics footprint to the Army and Soldier.
    • Decrease logistics footprint by minimizing requirements for special tools and test equipment and unique components.
    • Reduce logistics footprint by appropriate consideration of mission reliability, logistics reliability, reliability growth, fuel or power efficiency, improvements in maintainability, and other supportability issues.
    • Institute a continual technology refreshment program and initiates materiel changes, as necessary, to improve supportability, reduce LCC, and decrease the logistics footprint of the materiel.

Brief US Army Logistics Footprint History

Moving iron mountains of supplies has been a signature strength of the US military since the Civil War. But against an adversary with precision weapons, those sprawling supply dumps, the long convoys that venture out from them, and the large units that live off them are just big targets. In Operation Desert Storm it took nearly six months to deploy nearly 2 million short tons of supplies and equipment prior to the US Army’s major ground operations. In contrast, in Vietnam 1.3 million tons were delivered in the first 90 days. Some of the heaviest casualties in the 2003 capture of Baghdad came when unarmored, flammable fuel trucks pushed through to the forward-most tanks, and fuel convoys suffered heavy casualties to roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan thereafter.

What the Army is doing

The Army held a “Demand Reduction Summit” in April of 2017. The main goal for the summit was to get the word out about demand reduction and to get everybody’s buy-in that this is a "Total Army challenge”. A grim vision of future battlefields has the Army urgently exploring every option to streamline its logistics, everything from cargo drones to “compact fusion reactors. Here are some concepts to prepare for a future multi-domain battle:

  • Fighting in small units that can disperse, hide, and keep on the move, which is not possible while tethered to traditional supply lines
  • Exploring the use new technologies, especially robotics
  • Pursuing better electrical power management at forward bases and field command posts (i.e., software that cycles generators on and off depending on demand) can reduce both heat generated (which shows up on enemy sensors) and fuel consumed 
  • Moving fuel more efficiently to forward units via an automated fuel management system to reduce both the number of vulnerable tanker truck convoys and the frequency with which troops have to stop to gas up again 
  • Minimizing the number of soldiers driving supply trucks possibly by using so-called “leader-follower” technology, in which ordinary Army trucks are modified to drive themselves using their sensors to follow a manned vehicle in convoy
  • Using cargo-carrying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which are all significantly smaller than the unmanned K-MAX helicopter used in Afghanistan. Examples include - 
    • A high-end drone capable of carrying 1,500 to 2,000 pounds (less than a third of K-MAX’s payload up to about 70-90 miles (110 to 150 km));
    • A mid-tier drone able to carry 300-500 pounds to resupply, for example, a single infantry squad for three to four days; and
    • A micro-UAV able to carry 20-50 pounds from a forward supply point to, for example, a wounded soldier needing first aid, or to a broken-down vehicle needing repair parts
  • Printing spare parts on-site instead of transporting and storing them using Additive Manufacturing (AM) (e.g.,3D printing) 
  • Exploring new ways of operating using minimal amounts of supply

Logistics Footprint Metrics and Measurement

As the saying goes, "what gets measured gets done", but it's important to make sure that what you're measuring makes sense, aligns with overall operational and sustainment goals and is tracked over time. When looking to assess and potentially reduce logistics footprint, measurement needs to address inventory/equipment, personnel, facilities, transportation assets, and real estate. These measures are often assessed via in the following categories:

  • Weight = Total weight of deployable consumables, support equipment, energy, and spares
  • Personnel = Total number of personnel in the deployed are required to transport and sustain the weapon system
  • Volume = Total volume of deployable consumables, support equipment, energy and spares


The PM must apply the processes for designing, assessing and 'right sizing' the logistics footprint during the initial acquisition efforts and throughout the entire life cycle. This includes proactive focus on the initial design and all subsequent modifications, as there may be multiple opportunities to enhance system operational effectiveness and reduce the size of the needed infrastructure.