Keep on Trucking: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Intratheater Airlift
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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As the US Air Force USAF completes the drawdown from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the reduction of deployments and restructuring of budgets provide a rare opportunity to explore new intratheater employment models. There is potential to maximize the performance of intratheater airlift through the integration of an incentive-based entrepreneurial model for airlift scheduling, decision support, and process control. This paper considers three different distribution systems the current military intratheater airlift system being executed by US Central Command USCENTCOM Walmarts domestic distribution network and a hybrid system based upon the current intratheater airlift system, but altered to include entrepreneurial incentives and process improvements. Each system is illustrated by how it addresses each of five key factors 1 incentives, 2 process management, 3 information technology support, 4 approval, validation, and prioritization of cargo, and 5 fleet balancing. The systems are analyzed along customer-focused parameters of responsiveness, flexibility, reliability, and efficiency. In the right circumstances, military leaders can apply natural market forces to military operations without sacrificing the oversight or control needed for emergency situations. Although there are significant cultural barriers to an entrepreneurial approach, the Air Force should develop a system that uses market incentives to improve the tools of the theater distribution system to maximize effectiveness while retaining high levels of efficiency.