Cover: Toward Resiliency in the Joint Blood Supply Chain

Toward Resiliency in the Joint Blood Supply Chain

Published Sep 24, 2018

by Brent Thomas, Katherine Anania, Anthony DeCicco, John A. Hamm


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Research Questions

  1. What are the elements and characteristics of the Joint community's blood and blood-products supply chain?
  2. In what ways is this supply chain vulnerable to attack?
  3. What can be done to build more resiliency into the Joint blood supply chain?

The Joint military community provides a wide array of medical support services to its personnel, including the transfusion of blood and blood products. Ensuring that blood remains available and safe for transfusion requires sophisticated logistical support, especially for the military community's provision of blood to medical operations around the globe. However, that supply chain may become brittle in future potential operating environments, such as large-scale combat operations where adversaries may contest the U.S. military's freedom of movement.

This report describes the elements in the military's current blood supply chain and outlines a framework for assessing its performance. Through that lens, the authors then explore an array of approaches offering promise in improving the resiliency of the blood supply chain, including alternative concepts of operation and technologies. By understanding the mechanisms that underlie blood supply chain resilience, the Joint medical community can be better positioned to tailor a robust portfolio of resiliency investments. Such a portfolio would better ensure the availability and safety of blood and blood products under a wide array of stressors and threats to the system.

Key Findings

Systemwide modeling frameworks are essential to understanding supply chain operations

A variety of approaches might be leveraged to enhance access to blood supplies and their delivery to medical treatment facilities at forward operating locations

  • A portfolio of mitigation options offers promise for improving blood supply chain operations, from deployed medical facilities to the point of injury.
  • Combined mitigations can offer strengths that individual solutions may not.
  • Some evolving technologies may require significant time to reach broader application.


  • Understand stressors that may challenge the supply chain
  • Identify gaps or brittleness in current capabilities
  • Explore how current capabilities, evolving technologies, and alternative concepts of operation can mitigate those gaps
  • Ensure that mitigations function on the scales needed

This research was sponsored by The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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