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Building Partnership Capacity and Logistics

Wild Blue Yonder / Maxwell AFB, AL --



How Logistics Build Partnership Capacity

Where possible, U.S. strategy is to employ indirect approaches—primarily through building the capacity of partner governments and their security forces—to prevent festering problems from turning into crises that require costly and controversial direct military intervention. In this kind of effort, the capabilities of the United States' allies and partners may be as important as its own, and building their capacity is arguably as important as, if not more so than, the fighting the United States does itself.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) administers Building Partner Capacity (BPC) programs funded with US appropriations and administered as cases within the foreign military sales (FMS) infrastructure. One of these programs enables the agency to provide logistics solutions to allied countries. Moreover, the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) accepts FMS cases as requirements from the US military. These programs are a major source of defense services for government agencies and departments under the auspice of the Economy Act,1 as it is the primary purpose of building our partners’ capacity in support of the nation’s security forces. Further, it increases the nation’s capability to counter drugs, conduct counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations, and ensure the stability of multilateral peace programs.

The US government can aid other countries, which have similar interests, with US funds using foreign military financing (FMF), as it does with Egypt and Israel. This is achieved through the Department of Defense (DOD) and other US agencies that use these tools in furthering US national security objectives, as well as those of partner nations. To execute a BPC, the sponsoring DOD agency establishes a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) to the allied country that needs to increase its logistics capability.

Building partnership capacity can be traced back to the commonly known phrase, “develop capabilities of allied and friendly military.” The US military has been performing this type of similar activity since the eighteenth century in Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean—albeit not as clearly defined then as it is now. Building the logistics capabilities in partner nations is a significant consideration, as the United States struggles to build and establish its own logistics capabilities around the entire globe. This is very important for any state seeking to intensify the bond of its instruments of national defense, as logistics capabilities usually frame the boundaries of the military activities that can be performed. The congressionally appointed security forces commission in Iraq depicted a clear link between military and logistics capabilities in its 2007 congressional report.2

(US Army photo by SPC Austin Carrillo)

Figure 1. Partnership building. Litter teams prepare to transport patients with simulated injuries to a helicopter for evacuation, during a subject matter expert exchange between the US Navy Medical Engagement Team and Peruvian military medical personnel, as part of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2019. SPS is an annual series of US Navy deployments focused on exchanges with regional partner nation militaries and security forces. SPS 19 consists of fly-away deployments of adaptive force packages to Barbados, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru to conduct training and subject matter expert exchanges to improve capacity in medical, dive operations, and engineering.

The threats the United States now faces are no longer of a traditional war. Instead, we now need to learn how to fight “irregular warfare” with the logistical support of our allied countries to ensure territorial security. US military leadership should look to logistics for success.

Logistics is described as executing and planning the support and movement of military forces. The main functions of logistics are support for operational contracts, logistical services, engineering, deployment services, maintenance operations, and supply. Many question if Gen. George Patton truly made the above remarks, but he had a clear understanding of the importance of logistics.

After the Normandy landing in 1944, as the Allied forces fought against Germany, Gen. Patton’s Third Army ran short on fuel and had to cut short its advance.3 According to military historian and theorist Martin van Creveld, Allied operations in the European theater during the course of World War II had to be frequently canceled due to logistics. This clearly shows how logistics can limit the operations of the military if not well and properly managed.

Military operations rely on logistics on all the existing levels: tactical, strategic, and operational. Strategic logistics usually assists governments with information useful in building, projecting, and sustaining military power over time using its industrial foundation. Operational logistics are the activities and resources needed for sustaining major campaigns and operations. Tactical logistics provide for execution of the military functions in a timely manner. All levels of logistics are significant and dependent on each other for the provisioning of the correct resources at the correct place and at the correct time to sustain and move forces.

Logistics is a driving force for the success of the military. An occasion where logistics proved successful was during the initial stages of Operation Enduring Freedom. Three months after the terrorist attacks against the United States, Task Force 58 (TF 58), under the command of then-Brigadier General Jim Mattis, commenced an ambitious attack into southern Afghanistan over 340 nautical miles from the sea. For some three months, TF 58 performed combat operations in isolated and austere areas that required complex logistical support.4

Following detailed planning and a combination of logistics efforts at every level, TF 58 succeeded in its mission to remove the Taliban regime from power. TF 58’s success was evidence that logistics has the ability to enable military action, and is one of the major capabilities of the US military. Logistics capacity is significant for both developed and developing countries. With its enormous logistic capability at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, the United States has stressed the need to build and establish robust logistical capacity in its partners to overcome the security challenges of the twenty-first century. In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, many US partners around the globe need help in establishing their logistics capacity, and the BPC programs are one way to provide them with the sound logistics capability we need to face irregular warfare.


Lt Col Jesus E. Saez, Peru Air Force

Colonel Saez is chief, Plans and Programs Section, Peru Air Force Logistics Center. He has flown 164 hours in T-41D, Zlin-242, and T-27. He has served as a section chief, flight commander, and squadron commander and in staff positions on an air group, major command, the office of the Chief of the Staff, Logistics Center, and Joint Task Force. He has also served as the Logistics Section Chief in peacekeeping operations with the United Nations in Africa and as a logistics exchange officer at Little Rock AFB. Colonel Saez entered the Peru Air Force in 1996 and is a graduate from the Peru Air Force Academy, USAF logistics readiness officer course, and US Air Command and Staff College and currently is an US Air War College student.


1 Glenn Parry and Andrew Graves, Build to Order: The Road to the 5-day Car (London: Springer, 2008).

2 Reza Zanjirani Farahani, Nasrin Asgari, and Hoda Davarzani, Supply Chain and Logistics in National, International, and Governmental Environment: Concepts and Models (Heidelberg: Physica, 2009).

3 Regina M. Neubauer, Business Models in the Area of Logistics: In Search of Hidden Champions, their Business Principles, and Common Industry Misperceptions (Wiesbaden: Gabler, 2011).

4 Ibid.


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