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Life Cycle Logistics

DoD Logistics Transformation – 25 Years Later

Back in December 1998, the Defense Science Board (DSB), charged by the Under Secretary of Defense (USD) for Acquisition & Technology (predecessor to today’s USD for Acquisition & Sustainment…

DoD Logistics Transformation – 25 Years Later

DoD Logistics Transformation – 25 Years Later
Shawn Harrison

Back in December 1998, the Defense Science Board (DSB), charged by the Under Secretary of Defense (USD) for Acquisition & Technology (predecessor to today’s USD for Acquisition & Sustainment) and USD for Research & Engineering offices) to provide recommendations on assessing Warfighter logistics requirements, published its final report on DoD Logistics Transformation. The DSB’s findings included several that remain very relevant today, including the need for: (a) the “ability to deploy [and operate] in undeveloped areas and under unfavorable conditions”; (b) “decreasing logistics demand;” and (c) “exercises and plans [that] anticipate and deal with physical and information [e.g., cyber] attacks on the logistics system.” These closely mirror needs and challenges expressed in the current 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS).

While much of the DSB report (as intended) focused on the Combatant Commander (CCDR) perspective of logistics, there are some enduring “gold nuggets” of interest to Product Support Managers (PSMs). Among them:

  • [Design systems that deliver] high operational availability and reliability and reduce consumption rates of repair and maintenance parts
  • [Design and] deliver flexible, tailored support [that enables] agile, smaller, dispersed, mobile in-theater logistics
  • Investments to reduce Life Cycle Costs

While published more than a decade before the creation of the 2010 PSM position in public law, the report also emphasized two key tools in the PM’s and PSM’s toolbox:

  • Product Improvement - “based on business case analysis … systems should be evaluated to determine where investments can be made in [cost] reduction” including modernization of legacy systems and incorporation of new technologies
  • Performance Based Logistics (PBL) – use of competitive sourcing that “incentivize[s] suppliers to provide [parts and] equipment with growing reliability and declining support requirements”

DoDI 5000.91 states two related requirements. First, tailored Life Cycle Sustainment Plans (LCSP) must document the PSM’s use of “predictive analysis and modeling tools to improve materiel availability and reliability, increase operational availability, and reduce O&S costs.” Second, PBL contracts “are utilized when analysis indicates they can effectively reduce cost and improve performance.”

Among its summary conclusions, the DSB report noted there are “No silver bullets – but a combination of actions will be transformational.” Use of basic PSM “blocking and tackling” methods such as Product Improvement and PBL arrangements must be paired with new approaches such as Digital Product Support, Supply Chain Resilience, and Product Support Data Analytics, to continue to transform DoD Logistics and deliver effective and affordable Warfighter support.

Read the full DSB report here.