The Line Between Disorder and Order

Reflections on RAND's Role in the Evolution of Air Force Logistics Thought and Practice

by Robert S. Tripp


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This report documents the history of the interactions between RAND Corporation logistics researchers and Air Force leaders over more than 40 years to inform decisions involving logistics planning, programming, and budgeting and to develop, maintain, and evolve an approach for improving the Air Force logistics system. The narrative covers a period in which the demands made on the Air Force logistics system became more dynamic, complex, and costly—an era in which increasingly sophisticated weapons were joined by a growing appreciation for the importance of readiness, sustainability, system reliability, and uncertainty in Air Force and RAND thinking about military logistics.

These reflections illustrate why the impact of expert research and analysis on entities as large and complex as the Air Force logistics system is sometimes not immediate. Although the path to impact is not always straightforward, a vision of clear principles can help guide logistics and other forms of research over time. By retaining deep knowledge and expertise in logistics and in the overarching themes that have guided RAND's logistics research for the Air Force over the past 40 years, RAND researchers can be ready to engage on these key themes and enduring questions over the long term.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Prologue: Some Ideas That Shaped My Early Thinking About Air Force Logistics and Prepared Me to Act Given the Opportunity

  • Chapter Three

    1976 to 1979: Understanding How Logistics Policies, Processes, and Postures Impact Operationally Relevant Metrics, Costs, and Risks

  • Chapter Four

    1979 to 1982: Integrating Logistics Capabilities and Constraints Within Wartime Planning and Readiness Assessments

  • Chapter Five

    1982 to 1985: Developing Proactive Weapon System Readiness Assessments, LOG C2 Concepts, and Efforts to Address Uncertainty in Logistics System Designs

  • Chapter Six

    1985 to 1987: Implementing RAND Contributions to Readiness Assessments and Increasing Emphasis on Incorporating Uncertainty in Logistics Systems

  • Chapter Seven

    1987 to 1992: Building Responsiveness into Logistics System Designs to Cope with Uncertainty

  • Chapter Eight

    1992 to 1996: A Period of Focusing on Logistics Efficiencies, with Less Attention on How Logistics Processes Impact Effectiveness

  • Chapter Nine

    1996 to 2003: Relating Logistics Postures and Policies to Operational Effects and Costs Across Phases of Operations

  • Chapter Ten

    2003 to 2011: Expanding Logistics Analyses to Focus on Enterprise-Wide Impacts

  • Chapter Eleven

    2011 to 2014: Reorganization of AFMC and LOG C2 Stagnation

  • Chapter Twelve

    2012 to the Present: Examining Logistics Under Attack

  • Chapter Thirteen

    Moving Forward: Designing Logistics Systems to Be Responsive to Unanticipated Events

Research conducted by

This research was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted within the Resource Management Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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