Department of Defense logistics experts are developing
a concept of how joint logistics distribution will be conducted
from 2015 to 2025.
In September 2004, a small team of logistics
subject-matter experts representing the U.S. Transportation
Command (TRANSCOM), the Defense Logistics Agency, the joint
community, and the military services assembled to begin writing
a Joint Logistics (Distribution) Joint Integrating Concept
(JIC). By design, this concept focuses on distribution, a subset
The purpose of the Joint Logistics (Distribution) concept is
to support rigorous analysis of gaps and excesses in distribution
capabilities through a capabilities-based assessment process.
This process will provide appropriate materiel and nonmateriel
solutions as part of the broader Department of Defense (DOD)
Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS)
process. The Joint Logistics (Distribution) concept also is
intended to help drive joint and service experimentation and
influence science and technology efforts.
A core team of about 50 representatives from throughout DOD,
the joint community, and the services provided oversight and
management guidance to the writing team for the Joint Logistics
(Distribution) concept. A fundamental challenge for the members
of the core and writing teams in developing the concept was
to put aside service, agency, and organizational agendas so
all members could contribute to building something that was
almost unprecedented in its scope, complexity, and depth: a
shared view of how joint distribution operations will be conducted
in the period from 2015 to 2025. This is the first of several
articles that will be published in Army Logistician to explain
the framework in which the concept is being developed and the
concept’s major themes, pathway for completion, and effects.
Concepts describe the means used to achieve the operational
ends delineated in Joint Operating Concepts, one
of which is Major Combat Operations. The Joint Logistics
(Distribution) and Command and Control concepts describe
required capabilities that apply to the other five
Joint Integrating Concepts.
It will be difficult for the reader to understand the Joint Logistics (Distribution)
concept without first appreciating the catalysts for its development. Those catalysts
were twofold: First, a rapidly changing threat environment that re-quires new
approaches to how the United States closes combat power on a theater of operations
and establishes a distribution capability to support the force; second, a fundamental
overhaul in the requirements generation process itself, in which future war-fighting
capabilities are identified and ultimately resourced.
In 2003, DOD transitioned to what is termed a “capabilities-based planning” (CBP)
process, in which a family of new (and still emerging) joint concepts are designed
to link strategic guidance to the employment and development of future joint
force capabilities. These concepts are sometimes referred to as “engines
of transformation.” CBP differs from the traditional, or legacy, concept
development approach in its emphasis. Where the focus formerly was on platforms
and weapons needed to accomplish a specific mission to defeat a specific threat,
CBP focuses instead on “portfolios of capabilities” that will hedge
against future uncertainty, accentuate enduring U.S. strengths while mitigating
weaknesses, and impose disproportionate costs on adversaries.
The primary tool through which CBP is executed is the JCIDS process, which was
formally introduced in 2004. The intent of the JCIDS process is to improve and
standardize a methodology to identify and describe capability gaps, provide a
means of engaging the acquisition community earlier in the process of identifying
gaps, better define nonmateriel solutions, prioritize capability gaps and proposals,
and improve coordination throughout the services, the joint community, and DOD.
The JCIDS process is composed of a structured, four-step methodology collectively
termed “capabilities-based analysis.” The four steps are functional
area analysis, functional needs analysis, functional solutions analysis, and
post-independent analysis. Based on national defense policy and centered on a
common joint warfighting framework, these analyses are used to begin developing
integrated, joint capabilities that reflect a common understanding of existing
joint force operations and of doctrine, organizations, training, materiel, leadership
and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) capabilities and deficiencies.
The ultimate product of these analyses is a series of requirements documents
designed to achieve a required capability. These documents include the Initial
Capabilities Document, Capability Development Document, Capability Production
Document, and Capstone Requirements Document.
Joint concepts provide the primary operational and functional context for analysis
that guides service and Defense agency planning, programming, budgeting, and
execution decisions. They are organized in a hierarchy that includes the overarching
Joint Operations Concepts (JOpsC), subordinate Joint Operating Concepts (JOCs),
supporting Joint Functional Concepts (JFCs), and detailed JICs.
The JOpsC is the foundation for all joint concepts. It depicts the relationships
among JOCs, JFCs and JICs. JOCs provide the operational context and essential
capabilities from which JFCs are derived. JOCs describe operational “ends” (required “effects”);
JFCs describe required functional “means” (required “capabilities”).
JICs describe specific, fundamental tasks derived from a JOC, a set of JOCs,
or JFC-derived capabilities. JICs may be operationally (“effects”)
or functionally (“means”) focused.
The current portfolio of JOCs includes Homeland Security, Major Combat Operations,
Stability Operations, and Strategic Deterrence. Supporting JFCs include Command
and Control, Battlespace Awareness, Force Application, Protection, Focused Logistics,
Net-Centric Operations, Force Management, and Training. As for JICs, two were
developed before April 2004: Joint Forcible Entry Operations and Joint Undersea
Superiority. In that month, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed that five additional
JICs be developed: Joint Command and Control (with the U.S. Joint Forces Command
taking the lead), Global Strike (Air Force lead), Integrated Air and Missile
Defense (Air Force lead), Joint Sea Basing (Navy lead), and Joint Logistics (Army
and TRANSCOM co-lead).
Overview of the Joint Logistics (Distribution) JIC
This concept calls for a single joint deployment and distribution enterprise
capable of providing prospective joint force commanders with the ability to
deploy, reposition, sustain, reconstitute, and redeploy joint forces rapidly
in support of major combat or other joint operations. This joint deployment
and distribution enterprise must be capable of operating across the strategic,
and tactical continuum with a set of integrated, robust, and responsive physical,
information, communications, and financial distribution networks.The Joint
Logistics (Distribution) JIC directly supports the three overarching distribution
cited in the Focused Logistics JFC—namely, the requirement to build the
right capacity into the joint distribution pipeline, exercise sufficient control
over that pipeline, and provide a high degree of assurance that forces, equipment,
sustainment, and support will arrive where and when needed.
Future joint force commanders may rely on the supporting joint deployment and
distribution enterprise to expand existing peacetime distribution networks quickly
with a full range of standing, scalable, and expeditionary distribution capabilities.
These capabilities will support the joint force commanders in performing their
deployment, force assembly and repositioning, sustainment, and redeployment responsibilities.
The joint deployment and distribution enterprise—an integrated system consisting
of assets, materiel, leaders, organizations, procedures, tools, training, and
doctrine—will provide logistics solutions to the joint force commander
to minimize the seams in the pipeline that characterize current strategic and
theater distribution segments. It will be designed to erase current doctrinal
and procedural distinctions among the functions of deployment, distribution,
and sustainment. The joint deployment and distribution enterprise will complement,
interact with, and augment—not replace or subsume—service-unique
or theater-assigned distribution capabilities and responsibilities.
The central idea behind the Joint Logistics (Distribution) JIC can be summarized
in the following hypothesis. If we can—
• Build a single, unified joint deployment and distribution enterprise
capable of rapidly delivering and positioning joint forces and sustainment
from any point of origin or supply source to any point of need designated by
force commander and then returning them;
• Augment any joint force commander with additional ready, scalable, and
agile distribution capabilities; and
• Network the entire system in near real-time with common operational views
and shared knowledge, intuitive decision-support and modeling tools, and total
asset visibility; then the results will be—
• Enhanced delivery of forces and sustainment to the joint force commander,
thereby enabling, not limiting, operational art and employment of forces;
• Rapid introduction and integration of additional theater distribution
capabilities to seamlessly link the joint force with the entire distribution
• Improved trust and confidence that the entire distribution system will “deliver.”
End-to-End Joint Distribution Operations
Fundamental to developing the Joint Logistics (Distribution) JIC was an appreciation
by team members for the leadership intent of the JIC’s general officer
sponsors, the TRANSCOM Commander and the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–4,
Department of the Army. The terms of reference for developing the JIC identified
intent as the description, within an operational visualization, or construct,
of end-to-end joint distribution operations that ensure support of the operational
access needed to seize the initiative in a major combat operation.
The focus of the JIC is identified as distribution to enable rapid joint deployment
and distribution in support of the combatant commander’s military campaign.
It is based largely on the overarching tenets of the Focused Logistics JFC. At
the same time, it serves as an integrating mechanism for required logistics capabilities
identified in the other six JICs. The centerpiece is capabilities, tasks, conditions,
standards, and effects arrayed in an operational framework that focuses not only
on the “what” (tasks and functions) but, more importantly, on the “how” (ways
and means) of joint distribution.
Identification of key tasks associated with joint distribution
operations is central to the JIC. For the purposes of a JIC,
a task is defined as an action
or activity—based on doctrine, standard procedures, mission analysis,
or concepts—that may be assigned to an individual or organization.
Eight tasks constitute joint distribution operations—
• Close the joint force.
• Receive, reposition, operationally maneuver, or assemble the joint force
• Sustain the joint force.
• Enable joint force reconstitution.
• Exercise and employ joint deployment and distribution enterprise command,
control, communications, and computer (C4) systems.
• Establish, operate, and maintain joint distribution lift assets, terminals,
organizations, and lines of communication.
• Protect the joint deployment and distribution enterprise.
• Conduct joint distribution enterprise force development.
Illustrative Concept of Operations
JICs are required to include an illustrative concept of operations (CONOPS) based
on a DOD-approved Defense Planning Scenario. The CONOPS represents the overall
picture and broad flow of tasks within a plan by which a commander maps capabilities
to effects and effects to an end state for that scenario. It describes, against
the framework of a major combat operation, how the concept is put into operation
to support a joint force commander.
Key requirements for a CONOPS are that it focus on execution and assessment,
identify critical tasks on a campaign timeline, and have a sufficient level of
detail to provide for capabilities-based functional assessments.
Logistics (Distribution) concept brings the capabilities
of Focused Logistics to bear on providing joint logistics
distribution in support of the operational ends described
in Joint Operating Concepts.
The Road Ahead
Beginning with the Joint Logistics (Distribution) JIC, the
Joint Staff now requires that a war game be conducted as
a key step in the JIC developmental process.
The war game will provide a means for evaluating a JIC’s central idea,
tasks, conditions, standards, and effects in a major combat operations scenario.
It will ensure that the concept contains the appropriate level of information,
scope, clarity, and specificity to be of practical use in follow-on capabilities-based
assessments. The war game may identify areas that require further work or generate
specific changes that affect the concept’s major
themes. The war game is ex-pected to show how well the draft concept succeeds
in meeting the fundamental requirement of demonstrating how capabilities are
integrated at the operational and tactical levels in support of a joint force
Representatives from DOD, the joint community, and the services will participate
in the war game, with former joint task force commanders invited to serve in
key mentor and assessor roles. When the war game is completed, the concept
will be presented to general and flag officers for comment and review. Following
review, the concept will be forwarded to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.
If the council approves the concept, it then will enter into the capabilities-based
The Joint Logistics (Distribution) JIC represents an important milestone in
the transformation to network-centric warfighting capabilities. It will have
implications for force development, acquisition, and investment decisions.
More importantly, it will represent a significant step forward in migrating
logistics systems to joint processes and capabilities that are integrated with
a joint force commander’s battle rhythm across the range of military operations.
Mark McTague is Deputy Director of the Marine Corps Joint Concept Development
and Experimentation Office in Suffolk, Virginia. A retired Marine Corps colonel
with 28 years of logistics experience, he holds graduate degrees in management
from the Naval Postgraduate School and in national security and strategic studies
from the Naval War College.
Roger Houck is an employee of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and
currently is assigned to the Army Logistics Transformation Agency as an intergovernmental
personnel augmentee. He serves as the Team Lead for Joint Integration in the
agency’s Future Logistics Division. He served in the Air Force for over
20 years with assignments in both the operations and intelligence fields. He
attended Jochi Daigaku University in Japan and holds a B.S. degree from Texas
Christian University and an M.S. degree from the University of Southern California.
He is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College.
Principal members of the Joint Logistics (Distribution) writing team included
Gerald Jensen of the U.S. Transportation Command; Dennis McBride of the Marine
Corps; Major Mike Fitzgerald, U.S. Air Force; Commander Ray Daugherty, U.S.
Navy; and Ed Howell of the Army Combined Arms Support Command..