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Logistics Moves Military Toward Warfighting Superiority

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2004 – Before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, strategic resources were allocated based mainly on combatant commanders' concerns, the Joint Staff's logistics director said this week.

Speaking at the Defense Logistics 2004 conference here Dec. 1, Air Force Lt. Gen. Duncan J. McNabb said that paradigm has shifted, and it is no longer possible to focus resources in one region.

"After 9/11, what you found was a global war. And so, everybody was playing all the time," McNabb said. "The global commitment nature we have really has changed the nature of what we're trying to do."

The U.S. military has learned valuable lessons, and will continue to do so, from the current war, McNabb said. However, the consensus is that the military also must transform to be ready for the future, he added.

Netcentric warfare, tying all aspects of warfighting together in near-real time, is part of that future and has huge implications for defense logistics, he noted. The operational view of focused logistics, including the rapid delivery of mission-ready forces and sustainment to the theater, he said, depends on netcentricity.

One way that happens, the general explained, is a meshing of processes. That includes machine-to-machine interfaces, good decision making and a fusion between intelligence and the operator. It's hard work to make that happen, he said, but that hard work is becoming apparent.

"You're seeing the outcome of that in Afghanistan and you're seeing that in Iraq. You saw that in the race to Baghdad, just how fast we were able to do things," McNabb said.

He added that the future for logistics is in the fast lane. The goal is to get intelligence, operations and logistics all working together at the same pace. For example, he said, there shouldn't be any back-and-forth between a combatant commander and a logistician over what is needed and what is feasible. The two entities should work together in real time to come to a solution, he said.

With logisticians and the combatant commands working to become more focused and more netcentric, inventory and the military footprint can be reduced, and faster response can be achieved, he said. "That's when we're winning," he said. "That's where we need to go."

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Biographies:
Air Force Lt. Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, Joint Staff Director of Logistics

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