Defense Science Board Report on Survivable Logistics
The Challenge: “For decades, the ability of the Department of Defense (DoD) to transport, supply, and resupply our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines anywhere in the world has been assumed. The United States maintained such superiority over its competitors that strategic threats to DoD logistics were rarely considered by military planners. However, though in the past we have been relatively unchallenged in this regard, it is now time to evaluate our abilities to project forward and freely operate in contested environments. Our logistics capabilities need improvement, underpinned by stable funding streams dedicated to logistics.”
Key Finding: The Task Force found significant shortfalls that, if left unaddressed, will put at risk U.S. ability to project power and sustain the fight against a strategic competitor…. the DoD will need to adapt quickly to prepare for conditions less favorable to the United States than existed in the past. Modernizing the joint logistics enterprise is a necessary and critical first step toward that goal.” Plain and simply.
Recommendations: “There are four main areas that require attention.
- First, the United States must start survivable logistics at home. This includes conducting realistic wargames and exercises that accurately reflect the threats to and capabilities of the joint logistics enterprise, as well as addressing longstanding issues with the defense industrial base.
- Second, the United States must protect, modernize, and leverage the mobility triad (i.e., surface, air, prepositioning). New concepts of operations are needed to ensure that ground, air, and sea lines of communication remain open while under attack. Better prepositioning and enhanced cooperation with commercial partners will be needed.
- Third, protecting and enhancing logistics information is paramount. Military and commercial networks are susceptible to espionage, manipulation, and attack by adversaries. Logistics data is neither as accessible nor used as efficiently as it should be. Technological solutions to these problems already exist, or will exist in the near future. The DoD must adopt them quickly.
- Finally, the United States must exploit globally integrated logistics to support the 2018 National Defense Strategy. U.S. military units will need to be restructured to better balance Active and Reserve Component capabilities. Logistics demand must be reduced, and research, development, technology, and engineering (RDT&E) funding must be increased to meet this need. To enable resiliency and complicate an adversary’s targeting, it is imperative that logistics concepts of operations (CONOPs) be revised to align with anticipated future joint operating concepts.”
Bottom Line: “..it is critical that attention to survivable logistics begin at home. In the past few decades, readiness has severely decayed due to budget cuts, misaligned funding priorities, lack of incentives for the industrial base, and insufficient wargaming, among other causes…. the DoD should adopt (task force recommendations) without delay. Doing so will lay the foundation for the United States to continue operating reliably on the global stage to pursue its interests and protect its allies.”