Intra-Theater Air Mobility and Theater Distribution for the Joint Force Commander: Is the United States Central Command Model the Best (Revised)
Air University School of Advanced Air and Space Studies Maxwell AFB United States
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Wars cannot be fought without logistics. Throughout the ages, kings, conquerors, and military commanders have relied on supply chains to expand their empires and sustain their campaigns. However, the business of logistics and supply chain management is not glamorous. When compared to the shock and awe provided by kinetic effects on a battlefield, a mile-long line of fuel trucks or an airfield parking ramp full of wide-body aircraft do not make for very impressive photo opportunities. But the business of logistics and supply chain management is as vitally important, if not more so, as the business of targeting, bombardment, and scheme of maneuver. Though modern day American Joint Force Commanders have at their disposal a host of logisticians and supply chain managers to expertly manage a complex and global logistics network, it is critical that these commanders themselves be familiar with the advantages and constraints of the American global supply chain. For the U.S. Air Force, with Global Reach a part of its charter, the business of logistics is firmly rooted in its contributions to the American way of war. From humanitarian assistance, to disaster relief, to combat aerial delivery, the Air Mobility Command provides the assets and the expertise to sustain Americas power projection capabilities. The global portion of the American aerial supply chain is controlled and managed by U.S. Transportation Command. However, once personnel and materials arrive in a Geographic Combatant Commanders Area of Responsibility, that theater commander becomes responsible for onward movement and distribution. Over the last eight years, one geographic command in particular has gained an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in the business of managing aerial supply chains within a theater U.S. Central Command.