Managing logistics for the military is similar to managing supply chains for the civilian sector. Military doctrine defines logistics as the planning and execution of the movement and support of the armed forces. It covers aspects of military operations related to: design and development, procurement, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation and deployment of materials; movement, evacuation and hospitalization of personnel; acquisition or construction, maintenance, operation and sale of facilities; and the acquisition or provision of services.”
Managing civilian and military supply chains are very similar, but in practice, managing military and civilian supply chains are very different. The biggest difference, I think, may lie in the focus and priority of managing civilian and military supply chains. For example, the military anticipates and plans strategies to reduce supply chain disruptions. In contrast, civil society organizations can adopt a level of consistency in the supply chain that allows them to focus on reducing overhead and achieving efficiencies.
A few years ago I was drinking coffee with an officer on the other side when during a conversation he said, “You know what makes the US military so great?” He replied, “Systems and processes.” You know, quality systems and processes can turn even a mediocre leader into a great person and a strong leader into a great person, and will always be a great leader.” He went on to point out that unlike the United States, most countries seek only the best. leaders to lead and therefore have far fewer qualified leaders. I often reflect on this conversation because I have mentored junior military leaders and reviewed the systems and processes in my organization.
The combination of guidelines and regulations and a clear organizational structure form the basis for military logistics systems and processes. Systems and processes make it easy to synchronize highly complex and diverse supply chains. Professional military management services helps to conduct or control military affairs effectively and effeciently.
There are some vital principles that help the military design each system and process, enabling leaders to continually evaluate and modify systems and processes as needed to provide the best possible support.
Integration is the unification of all maintenance elements (tasks, functions, systems, processes and organization) into operations that ensure unity of purpose and effort.
Anticipation is the ability to anticipate events and requirements and take the necessary actions that best suit the response.
Responsiveness is the ability to respond to changing demands in a short time and quickly maintain efforts to meet changing circumstances from time to time. It offers the right support at the right time in the right place.
Simplicity seeks to minimize the complexity of maintenance. Simplicity is about processes and procedures.
Economy means allocating resources for maintenance efficiently so that commanders can use all means to achieve the greatest possible impact.
Survival is the ability to protect personnel, information, infrastructure, and assets from destruction or deterioration.
Continuity is the continuous delivery of resilience at all levels, achieved through an integrated and focused network system linking maintenance to operations.
Improvisation is the ability to adapt maintenance work to unforeseen situations or circumstances that affect the mission.
The military divides supply chain management into three levels of support – tactical, operational and strategic.
- The tactical level is the lowest level closest to the consumption level; in the civil sector this will be similar to a brick window.
- The operational level combines the tactical and strategic levels; in the civil sector, this would be very similar to a regional distribution center.
- The strategic degree focuses on the global level and reaches the global industrial complex; in the civil sector this will be very similar at the corporate headquarters level. Supporting entities at every level of the network both vertically and horizontally, creating a network of interconnected logistics hubs, maximizing a responsive and flexible supply chain.