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Attempts to characterize logistics systems as either supply-based or distribution-based logistics are misguided. Every logistics system must integrate supply and distribution to meet customer requirements, including risk considerations, while minimizing total supply-chain cost.

The ideal logistics system for a given situation depends on process capabilities, resource costs, and item, demand, and customer profiles. What is ideal is subject to change. As processes improve, the system design should evolve; as process improvements breach thresholds and as new capabilities are developed, the logistics system should change in a more revolutionary manner. The continual need for a nuanced and dynamic balancing of distribution and supply in logistics system design has implications for the training and career development of Army logisticians. A logistician’s ability to make the right integrated decisions depends on his having broad system knowledge — on being a logistics expert rather than a supply or transportation specialist.

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Originally published in: Army Logistician, PB-700-07-02, Volume 39, Issue 2, March-April 2007.

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