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Logistics: Supply Based or Distribution Based?

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Journal article

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The continual need for a nuanced and dynamic balancing of distribution and supply in logistics system design has implications for the training and career development of Army logisticians. A logisticians ability to make the right integrated decisions depends on his having broad system knowledge -- on being a logistics expert rather than a supply or transportation specialist. Those planning the logistics system should understand the tradeoffs among the available resources and system design options. Without a good understanding of the full breadth of logistics management and, for some positions, supply chain management, the need to adapt systems as conditions and capabilities change may not be clear or the root causes of problems may not be understood. Thus, as military logistics professionals progress in their careers and begin to play a role in theater- and national-level planning, their knowledge base must expand as they move from transportation- and physical distribution-oriented execution management to more strategically oriented logistics-system and supply-chain design and management positions. They need to become adept at integrating the full range of options available to best support units in the field, no matter the situation. Every resource, whether inventory, transportation assets, distribution facilities, or people, should have a clearly defined role designed to meet an objective derived from overall system goals. If these objectives are well understood and used to drive logistics system design, the right levels of resources in the right places will be employed effectively. Rather than choose between distribution-based and supply-based designs, the Army, in conjunction with its joint supply-chain partners, should seek optimal, balanced logistics system designs that it can adapt quickly to changing conditions.

Subject Categories:

  • Operations Research
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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