Cover: A Common Operating Picture for Air Force Materiel Sustainment

A Common Operating Picture for Air Force Materiel Sustainment

First Steps

Published Jul 24, 2008

by Raymond A. Pyles, Robert S. Tripp, Kristin F. Lynch, Don Snyder, Patrick Mills, John G. Drew


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The United States Air Force materiel sustainment system (MSS) is continually caught between two countervailing pressures: demands for increased efficiency and lower costs on one side versus demands for increasingly effective support to combat operations and peacetime training on the other. Furthermore, the demands on the MSS are unpredictable and change rapidly. The authors contend that implementation of a common operating picture (COP) would make the Air Force MSS both more efficient and more flexible and responsive to changing needs. They describe such a COP, developed around four principles: effects-based measures, which enable the creation of diagnostic measures to monitor system performance; schwerpunkt, a German concept that emphasizes the importance of a shared frame of reference for accomplishing organizational objectives; decision-rights theory, which provides a framework for decentralizing decisionmaking; and a nonmarket economic framework in which Air Force Headquarters and the Global Logistics Supply Center would mediate between the supply and demand sides of the MSS. The authors discuss how this COP might be applied to depot-level reparable component sustainment, using that specific example to illustrate how the COP could improve the overall MSS.

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

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