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Materiel Distribution: Improving Support to Army Operations in Peace and War

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Several aspects of the world have changed in ways that have significant implications for the distribution system. The past 30 years have seen major changes in the cost of some materiel and transportation. While the cost of materiel has been dramatically increasing for some items, the cost of transportation has been decreasing significantly. The current DoD distribution process has not adapted to take advantage of these dramatic cost declines. Industry has experienced these same changes to the business environment. The best performing companies have taken advantage of the changes. They have made themselves more competitive by changing their business processes and investing in technology to support the new processes. This includes using technology to automate procedures. But technology alone does not provide sufficient productivity gains. Automating a cumbersome procedure may make it faster, but it will be no less cumbersome. The greatest productivity gains occur when the system is reengineered and automated simultaneously. In spite of many differences between commercial distribution and that of DoD, many of industrys practices can apply to DoD. We have learned so far that DoD distribution is complex and compartmented it is slow, and the problems affecting it are long-standing fixing it requires a systemic approach stovepipe approaches have not worked the Army distribution system may have been good at one time, but its design now rests on invalid assumptions and the best commercial firms have met and overcome many of the challenges confronting the DoD. No single approach will save large amounts of money or solve DoDs logistics performance, because problems pervade the process. Industry is achieving dramatic reductions in costs and improvements in performance, and opportunities exist for DoD to gain similar benefits. But to achieve them, DoD needs to make current processes work better and change its processes to take advantage of technology.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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