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Recent operations abroad have shed light on shortfalls in the way the Air Force performs intratheater airlift within the military joint end-to-end multimodal movement system. Cargo backlogs, insufficient methods of tracking cargo, inefficient use of airlift resources, and a lack of discipline in requesting airlift support were among the problems identified. Using an expanded strategies-to-tasks framework as a “lens” for evaluating intra- and intertheater movement, the authors assess current intratheater airlift processes, organizations, doctrine, training, and systems. The report catalogues identified shortfalls and recommends options for improving the Theater Distribution System. They recommend a clear separation of supply, demand, and integrator roles, and they provide several organizational options. They also suggest the adoption of a closed-loop planning and execution process that focuses on the trade-offs in effectiveness and efficiency of alternative network options.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Strategies-to-Tasks and Closed-Loop Planning Applied to Theater Airlift

  • Chapter Three

    Shortfalls in the AS-IS Theater Airlift Planning and Execution System

  • Chapter Four

    Evaluation of TO-BE Improvement Options

  • Chapter Five

    Summary and Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Theater Distribution System Analyses Contributing Organizations

  • Appendix B

    The Strategies-to-Tasks Framework and a Closed-Loop Planning and Execution Process

  • Appendix C

    Closed-Loop Planning and Execution Example

  • Appendix D

    Illustrative Example of Reachback in the Air Mobility Division

  • Appendix E

    Reachback Decision Tree

  • Appendix F

    Evolved CENTCOM Intratheater Airlift Planning Process

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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