Adaptive Battlefield Ammunition Distribution

The Role of Systematic Adaptation in Dynamic Environments

by Desmond Saunders-Newton

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It is widely accepted that logistics performance affects combat capability, and as a consequence, affects the effectiveness of military operations. At a qualitative level, it is not difficult to argue that a positive relationship exists between logistics performance and combat capability. Building upon this preceding position, this dissertation advances the thesis that a greater ability to adapt the wartime theater ammunition distribution process, as a result of improved physical resource, information or distribution management, can substantially increase combat capability. A wartime distribution system characterized by adaptivity is particularly important for future Army operations given fundamental and ongoing changes in the global order, the nature of the threat, the operational doctrine, the availability of fiscal resources, and the possible theaters of operations. To demonstrate this thesis, this analysis formalizes the adaptive distribution concept by casting the ammunition distribution system as a complex adaptive system. Emerging paradigms associated with the study of complex adaptive systems illustrate a means of exploiting the adaptive actions of a complex system in response to changes in its operating environment. The resulting concept suggests a systemic schema that can incorporate various logistics support forms whose function produces outcomes appropriate for a given environment. The study further defines the adaptive distribution concept in terms of three variant forms, as well as a comparison distribution concept characterized by robustness. Whereas an adaptive distribution concept attempts to improve outcomes resulting a system's, a robust distribution concept is oriented towards maintaining a system's form or function without explicit concern for systemic outcome. These concept's operations are modeled using knowledge-based simulation techniques and compared across categories of stressful combat environments. The results of this comparison suggest that a system characterized by an ability to adapt is better suited to the anticipated dynamic environments of the future than a system characterized by robustness and is worthy of further testing.

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