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This monograph discusses U.S. Air Force progress toward implementing sense and respond logistics or, as defined more broadly, sense and respond combat support. It describes some of the research that has been conducted on the military combat support system, focusing on improvements in prediction capability, responsiveness of supply chains, and a governing command and control system. The report identifies the elements of sense and respond combat support and shows what is necessary to use the concept within the military — specifically, the Air Force. It surveys the state of technology needed to implement the concept and identifies both the technical work that needs to be further developed and the Air Force organization most appropriate to manage the implementation. The capabilities described involve predicting what will be needed and responding quickly to anticipated or unanticipated needs. The monograph points out the need for both predictive tools and responsive systems working together. A key enabler of sense and response combat support is combat support command and control, which involves joint development of a plan in which logistics process performance and resource levels are related to desired operational effects; establishment of logistics process performance and resource-level control parameters; execution of the plan and tracking of control parameters against actual process performance and resource levels; signaling process owners when their processes lie outside control limits; and replanning logistics or operational components of the plan to mitigate the portions of the plan that are outside control limits.

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The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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