Aug 8, 2006
The U.S. Air Force's Air and Space Expeditionary Forces (AEF) must be able to rapidly deploy and begin operations anywhere in the world. An important factor in meeting this goal is the ability to store war reserve materiel (WRM) at forward support locations (FSLs) outside the United States and then quickly transport this materiel to where it is needed. WRM includes combat support resources such as base operating equipment, vehicles, and munitions.
RAND Project AIR FORCE (PAF) evaluated strategies for positioning WRM so that it can support a variety of future combat operations at minimal cost (considering construction, storage, and transportation) and maximum speed. PAF's findings and recommendations follow.
A mobility plan should include a combination of airlift, sealift, and land transportation. Using trucks and high-speed sealift may be faster and less expensive than airlift for deployment to some regions. This places an emphasis on storage sites that allow for multimodal transport of WRM assets.
Certain areas of the world should be considered as possible locations for new combat support bases.
Access concerns must be addressed in any decision on potential overseas basing locations. Although sea-based prepositioning is more costly than land-based storage and may require more deployment time, the afloat option should not be discounted because it offers flexibility in the event that host countries deny access. Additionally, land-based sites that offer access and stability may be desirable despite their locations or higher transportation costs.
A global approach is more effective and efficient than allocating resources on a regional basis.