Air University Review, July-August 1969

Air Force Logistics Command

General Jack G. Merrell

As Commander of Air Force Logistics command, I am constantly aware of the tremendous responsibility lodged in this major Air Force command. Since World War II, logistics has become one of the most vital, massive, and complex businesses in the Air Force. It touches every aspect of the Air Force and involves billions of dollars annually. Obviously, in discussing its worldwide role, I cannot describe everything that the Logistics Command does, so I shall cover only some of the highlights.

The mission of the Air Force Logistics Command is to keep the Air Force’s aerospace weapon system at instant readiness wherever they are in the world. It must perform this mission at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer. Its task is to make certain that the operational commands have the logistics needed to keep their aircraft, missiles, and support equipment at top efficiency.

Headquarters AFLC is at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. The big industrial-type logistics centers which carry out most of the command’s operational functions are known as air materiel areas (AMA). There are five of them, all in the United States.

Before the late 1950s, AFLC depended on its U.S.-based installations and a selected number of overseas depots to provide support to widely deployed Air Force units. This required lengthy pipelines, stretching from manufacturers through AFLC’S stateside installations to the overseas depots and finally to the operational units.

Within the last decade AFLC has developed a new logistics concept and put it into operation. The Air Force today is geared for instant retaliation. It is prepared to strike decisive blows with what it already has on hand if hostilities begin. The logistics concept today is direct support. The day of costly stockpiling in vulnerable overseas depots has ended. Direct support means the high-speed movement of priority and high-value materials direct from the United States to the user. It requires almost instantaneous communication and electronic data processing. Today an Air Force activity anywhere in the world requisitions and receives whatever USAF items it needs directly from one of the stateside AMA’S. 

The four main activities of AFLC are procurement, supply, depot maintenance, and transportation.

· Procurement is that portion of the logistics process concerned with buying spare items, spare parts, aerospace ground equipment, and related items, including requirements for maintenance, modification, and technical services.

· Supply is the nucleus of logistics. Supply management techniques are tailored to fit the nature of groups of items in the Air Force inventory. An important supply function is the cataloging of some 1.7 million items used by the Air Force. Determining the quantity of items required to support the Air Force also is a supply function. This determining of needs, or computing Air Force requirements, has often been called the “heart of logistics.”

· Maintenance accounts for the work of 100,000 persons, about half of whom are off-base contract personnel, who see to it that equipment performs its intended function. Information is constantly collected to improve operations and reduce costs. The basic philosophy is to minimize the need for maintenance through improved reliability and to ensure top performance at the least cost.

· Transportation is responsible for worldwide movement of Air Force materiel. This includes storage, warehousing, preservation, and packaging of Air Force property, management of materials-handling equipment, and operation of the Logistics Airlift System (LOGAIR), which provides airlift support to Air Force bases in the continental United States (CONUS).

Every weapon system in the Air Force inventory—and there are more than 300 types—has a “home” AMA which provides its system manager for logistics. Each AMA has responsibility for the worldwide logistics management of the weapon systems assigned to it.

· San Antonio Air Materiel Area (SAAMA) at Kelly AFB, Texas, for example, provides the system manager for the giant C-5A transport. This means that whenever the C-5A will need a replacement part—no matter where the transport may be—the organizational unit will call upon SAAMA and get immediate service by cargo aircraft delivery. If in need of major repair or overhaul, the C-5A will be flown to SAAMA’S maintenance shops. SAAMA also manages 63 percent of the Air Force’s total engine inventory, numbering nearly 40,000 separate engines. Its aircraft responsibilities include the F -102 and F-106 fighter-interceptors, the supersonic B-58 Hustler bomber, and the C-5A, now in the flight-test stage. SAAMA also manages logistics support of Air Force re-entry vehicles.

· Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area (OCAMA) at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, manages repairs and furnishes spare parts for the B-52, B-47, C/KC-135, and certain other aircraft as well as a number of aircraft engines and airborne missiles. OCAMA also provides the system manager for a number of ground communications-electronics systems.

· Ogden Air Materiel Area (OOAMA) at Hill AFB, Utah, takes logistics care of the Titan II, Titan III, and the solid-fueled Minuteman ICBM. It performs logistics management of the versatile F-4 aircraft and the F-10l Voodoo supersonic fighter. OOAMA manages the logistics of the Air Force air munitions program.

· Sacramento Air Materiel Area (SMAMA) at McClellan AFB, California, manages the logistics support for all Air Force satellites and satellite-tracking systems. It is responsible for the new F-111A variable sweep-wing fighter, as well as the F-100, F-104, F-105, F-84, F-86, T-28, A-1, T-6, and EC-121 aircraft, and is the repair activity on the F-I06 fighter-interceptor. The Air Force’s ground power generator program is SMAMA’S responsibility, as is systems support for SAGE and BMEWS equipment.

· Warner Robins Air Materiel Area (WRAMA) at Robins AFB, Georgia, has responsibility for logistics management of most of the Air Force’s transport aircraft, Included are the C-140 and C-141 jet transports, C-130 and C-133 turboprop transports, and the C-46, C/AC-47, C-118, C-119, C-123, and C-124. WRAMA has similar responsibility for the B-57, B-66, eight types of utility aircraft, 13 types of helicopters, and the X-142 and X-19 experimental VTOL aircraft, as well as the Mace missile and the Firebee target drone, Other responsibilities include bomb, navigation, and fire-control systems, airborne communications equipment, vehicles, and components, and a number of other equipment classes.

Besides the AMA’S, AFLC has several other specialized activities: GEEIA, AGMC, MASDC, ALSC, APRE, APRFE, and AFCMC.

· AFLC’S Ground Electronics Engineering Installation Agency (GEEIA) has its headquarters at Griffiss AFB, New York. It provides single-point management for the engineering, installation, and maintenance of Air Force ground communications-electronics equipment including radio, radar, teletype, and telephone systems, About 12,000 people, mostly military, make up 14 squadrons operating in five regions located throughout the world.

·The Aerospace Guidance and Metrology Center (AGMC) is located at Newark Air Force Station, Ohio. As the single point within the Air Force for the repair and calibration of inertial guidance systems, the AGMC provides direct support to the Minuteman and Titan missile systems and the navigational system of the F-4 aircraft.

· AFLC is the Air Force’s executive director of the Department of Defense Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC), Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The center stores, reclaims, and redistributes inactive aircraft for all three military services.

· AFLC’S Advanced Logistics Systems Center (ALSC), located at Wright-Patterson, is charged with developing a “21st Century Logistics System” and implementing it in the early 1970s. Using third-generation computers, advanced communications, and new techniques in the management sciences, the ALSC is expected to produce new concepts and procedures in Air Force logistics.

· Air Procurement Region, European (APRE) and Air Procurement Region, Far East (APRFE) are extensions of AFLC overseas to accomplish logistics procurement in their respective areas. They are primarily concerned with Modification/Inspection and Repair as Necessary (IRAN) procurements as well as contractor crash and battle-damage repairs in the overseas theaters.

· AFLC is now in the process of establishing a new organization to be known as the Air Force Contract Maintenance Center (AFCMC). The center will be responsible for administration of contracts at industrial plants located primarily in the southeastern United States. The Department of Defense previously assigned contract management responsibility for these plants to the Air Force Logistics Command because of the predominance of AFLC contracts. Government contracts in the facilities include depot-type maintenance of special air mission aircraft, as well as modification and overhaul work on about one-fourth of the first-line fighter and cargo aircraft in the Air Force operational inventory. Headquarters for the center will be at Wright-Patterson and will be staffed by highly qualified military and civilian personnel with specialized experience in contract administration, property management, production, flight test, and quality control. The headquarters staff will supervise the operations of field detachments that perform contract management functions at various contractor plant sites. To become operational in September 1969, the center will assume the contract management responsibilities formerly accomplished by the AMA’S.

To Describe where we have been, I need only recall World War II and the story of mass logistics, which is exactly what we had then. We moved supplies overseas by the hundreds and thousands of tons; the bigger the stock of supplies we got over there, the more difficult it became to keep track of them. Much of it, we could not even count, nor did we know what was in some of the boxes. In effect, it was lost—just as lost as if we had never procured it. That is the story—oversimplified—of what happened. This is the kind of logistics the Air Force has been striving to get away from ever since World War II.

At the end of that war and for a period thereafter, we had a great many depots in the United States and overseas. We recognized that the materiel in those depots and in the pipeline represented a potential savings of great magnitude if, instead, we could supply overseas units direct from CONUS installations. Increased airlift capability, improved high-speed communications facilities, and the conversion of manual supply systems to automatic data-processing equipment made it possible to begin the phase-out of many of the depots in the United States and overseas in the mid-50s. By the end of the decade, we had closed all our overseas depots. In the United States we have phased out quite a number of installations, so that by the middle of 1969—with the phase-out of the Mobile AMA—we will be down to five air materiel areas and four specialized activities.

During the past 10 years the dollar value of the Air Force’s operating fleet of aircraft and missiles increased by 50 percent, from $20 billion in 1958 to $31.2 billion in 1968. This happened because today’s more efficient weapon systems are also much more complex and costly. Of course they require more sophisticated spare items and test equipment, but we have been able to hold back the dollar value of the spares inventory from $12.7 billion in 1958 to $12.2 billion in 1968. This saving has been realized despite an increase since 1965 caused by the war in Vietnam.

Ten years ago each dollar’s worth of operating aircraft or missile was supported by 64 cents in spares. Today only 39 cents is needed, and yet we have our weapon systems “in commission,” or ready to perform their mission, a much greater percentage of the time—79 percent compared with 65 percent 10 years ago.

How have we done this? We have done it with improved communications and improved computer systems at the bases and the depots and by being more accurate in our inventories and more responsive to worldwide needs.

As weapon systems became more complex, the number of line items in our inventory hit a high mark of more than 2,000,000 items at the start of the sixties. Since then, although we have introduced more complex systems into our inventory, we have continued a highly concentrated effort to purge old items out of the system. We have reduced the number of line items now to about 1,700,000.

Early in the sixties the Defense Supply Agency (DSA) was created to increase the efficiency of, and reduce the cost of managing, common military supply items and logistics services by eliminating overlapping and duplicating organizations, systems, and procedures of the military services.* As a result, some 800,000 Air Force common items have been turned over to DSA, leaving the Air Force with about 900,000 items for which AFLC has sole management responsibility. Basically, the Air Force has retained for its own management the complex items, the technical items that require specialized engineering support to manage.

During this same time period we have reduced our manpower strength from 212,000 to 139,000.

The size of AFLC’S business is impressive. For example, our financial program totaled $8.4 billion in FY 1968. We repaired some 9000 aircraft and overhauled about 14,000 engines. Component and accessory repair amounted to 2.8 million units. We received more than 15 million “retail demands” from our “customers.” This, of course, considerably oversimplifies the millions of actions that are taken in our AMA’S and specialized activities, but it does give a frame of reference as to the scope of AFLC’S operation.

Let us turn now to the Air Force logistics performance in Southeast Asia and some of the lessons we have learned there. The best measure of the job we are doing is the fact that our units out there are flying two or three times their normal flying-hour program under tough circumstances, and they are doing it successfully. Not Operationally Ready, Supply (NORS) rates are lower than ever before in the history of the Air Force. These units are a professional force—as are those of the Army and Navy—the most professional force the world has ever seen, and Americans have every reason to be proud of them.

The AFLC also has a very professional force of logisticians. Long gone is the day when you could put a new second lieutenant out with the supply sergeant and have him learn the business in a few weeks. Supply is a highly sophisticated and specialized business today, and the people in it must be highly professional, competent, well educated, and well motivated. The successful job that has been done in supporting the combat forces clearly demonstrates that we do indeed have such people.

Despite the necessary emphasis on Southeast Asia, the Logistics Command managed simultaneously to increase the effectiveness of its Support for Air Force units worldwide. Aircraft, missiles, and equipment—wherever located—were kept at the highest level of operational readiness in Air Force history.

Now some of the logistics lessons we have learned in Southeast Asia.

First, the Air Force in the early sixties had some problems to solve in making the conversion from the strategy of massive retaliation to that of controlled or selective response. We had not solved those problems when the Southeast Asia buildup occurred. I can best illustrate what I mean by talking about munitions.

At the beginning of operations in Southeast Asia we had some 300,000 tons of conventional munitions in storage, but we had a very small production base. Suddenly we found ourselves in a conventional war and things had to start moving, including production of munitions. Fortunately, the Army and the Navy had saved some tooling, and we were able to reactivate production rather quickly. We “bottomed out” in the spring and summer of 1966—that was when production began to exceed consumption. Inventories got pretty low, but they never actually ran out. We did have some component shortages at individual bases, such as arming wires, fins, and fuzes, but that was all. Our shortage, technically, was a distribution matter.

Now we have regained a very comfortable production position, despite the problems we had in converting from a static system to an active one. We had to control a pipeline and inventories from the factory to the storage point, to the shipping point, on board specialized ships, for movement to Southeast Asia. We needed control at the offloading point, control to the base, and control on the base to the airplane. We had a lot of learning to do, to get operating smoothly.

So the first lesson learned is to keep an active production base in the future. Incidentally, we have very good reason to keep our production as close to consumption as possible; if we don’t, we’re going to have excess munitions after Southeast Asia.

Lesson number two also concerns a production base—for aircraft. When the buildup began in Southeast Asia the Air Force had only one real production line going, the F -4, and that one was shared with the Navy. Fortunately, working with the Navy, the Air Force had taken some preparatory actions with the contractor and some of their suppliers to increase production. We had put together a mobilization effort whereby we banked the production line with parts so that the production rate could be increased as rapidly as possible. Even with these precautionary actions, it still took almost a year and a half to double our aircraft production.

Obviously, a planned production acceleration is not enough to get more aircraft quickly. One way to be prepared for conventional contingency conflicts is to have larger tactical air forces, both men and aircraft. Then we could stand some attrition between the start of the contingency and the time when production of aircraft and crews has caught up.

Certainly we could buy more aircraft and put them in cold storage for a contingency. That would be very expensive, but it could be done. However, there is no way to put crews in cold storage.

The base situation in Southeast Asia provided lesson number three. At the outset, we crowded our forces onto such bases as Tan Son Nhut, Bien Hoa, and Da Nang. We did it in a relatively short time and became operational in a matter of days after our forces arrived. However, when those bases got so crowded that we had to have others, it took a year to build new bases like those at Cam Ranh Bay and Tuy Hoa.

The Air Force, tactically, not only requires a capability to move into a bare-base situation in a matter of hours and operate immediately; it also must actually be able to move into a “no-base” situation, where it has only the real estate, and create a base within a matter of days. This can be done by making full use of our future air logistics capability.

So we at AFLC are pushing a number of projects, working with all the agencies involved. For example, with the Air Force Systems Command, we are developing vertical structures which are lightweight and very durable and which can be erected quickly. With the Army, we are working on airfield paving materials that will enable us to create a quick runway capability, assisted by the airlifting and airdropping of equipment required to do the job.

From the standpoint of logistics, these, then, are among the important lessons we have learned in Southeast Asia. Solving them was not easy, but we did solve them—by application of our professional military and civilian talent and the effective use of our data-processing machinery.

Now let me turn to some of our plans for the future. Looking ahead, we have several important things to accomplish. First, we have a great need to modernize our physical plant, for as far ahead as the 1980s.

Obviously, it is not a simple matter to see that far ahead. For example, we don’t know what kind of weapons we are going to have then; experience teaches us this much. And yet, some of the older weapons may still be around. We do know enough about the technology of the future to predict the kind of physical facilities AFLC will need. Accordingly, we are busy right now developing a master plan in this area. We are doing this centrally at AFLC headquarters, with the air materiel areas contributing their input. 

Probably our most important project for the future is a program to improve our logistics support responsiveness. Toward this end we have created the Advanced Logistics Systems Center (ALSC) at Headquarters AFLC, on the same command level as the air materiel areas. The center has the job of developing what we think of as a twenty-first century logistics system—and the requirement to make this system operational during the early 1970s.

Let me explain our objectives in simplified terms. AFLC is one of the world’s largest users of computers. They are second-generation equipment, however, and do not give us the flexibility we need to improve our logistics management maximally. For example, we need immediate access to stored data and real-time processing of transactions. Consequently, we are now looking toward third-generation equipment. From our 15 years’ experience with computers we know some of the difficulties involved in using them to do a job. We are now over our computer growing pains and believe we know where we are heading and how to get there.

Our plan, in the Advanced Logistics Systems Center, is to develop specifications for and obtain the third-generation computers required to update our logistics processes. Through communications that exist today and through computers that exist at most of our bases throughout the Air Force—properly programmed with software—we have the ability to develop a “closed loop” logistics system for all items in the Air Force inventory. 

The benefits of a closed-loop system can be described simply. We will have the capability at the item manager level in a depot to punch a button and ask for the condition, status, quantity, and location of any single item, at any base, anywhere in the world; and we will get the information on a near real-time basis, meaning a delay of not more than half an hour!

This capability will enable us to do a better job of managing. One of our big problems today is that we lose visibility of assets in the inventory. If the depots do not know where all assets are, they are just as unavailable as if we had never bought them. With immediate-access storage and real-time processing, the new equipment will make it possible for us to maintain logistics data in what could be called a unified data bank, accessible to Air Force operating units around the world as well as AFLC managers. Decisions by the weapon support manager, the buyer, and the maintenance manager will be based on a current, single-source library of data, eliminating much of the redundancy we have today. In a nutshell, what we will get from such improved visibility of assets is the ability to respond more promptly and accurately, thus giving the Air Force better support at lower cost in inventories and operations.

Of course this is not going to happen overnight, for it is a major undertaking. When completely manned, the center will have some 1450 logisticians, computer programmers, systems analysts, and communications experts. It already has about 1250 aboard, experts reassigned from other AFLC activities. 

We have already in being a program we call AFRAMS (Air Force Recoverable Assembly Management System), with which we are trying to maintain a closed-loop system on some 77,000 reparable-type assets representing about $5 billion worth of spares. Through this system we are getting reports from all bases, worldwide, of status changes on these items as they occur. This permits the item manager to know, once he has the initial inventory, the changed status of each reparable-type item, by line item, worldwide. So he knows where his assets are and how many reparables he has. He can better program his repairs at the depot level and control the assets and their redistribution from base to base. This system is still in the early stages, but it represents a definite forward step.

Why do we need a more responsive system with fewer assets and fewer dollars spent? There is always an imperative requirement to reduce the cost of support to the Air Force.

Anything we can do to reduce that cost will, within any finite budget, enable the Air Force to buy more research and development and more modernization for the future. And they are urgently needed.

Many of our aircraft—and not just “Puff, the Magic Dragon”—are getting quite old. Statistics show that at the end of 1968 about 60 percent of our aircraft were more than nine years old.

So we need to do everything we can to improve the rate of modernizing our forces. This is one of the reasons AFLC must do a better support job at less cost. Of course, we’re looking for more responsiveness anyway, and I think the system I have described will give better responsiveness.

Another project on which we are hard at work is to improve the reliability of the new systems we are acquiring; that is, reliability in a quantitative sense. To improve our older aircraft, we are working on a program that we call IROS (Improved Reliability of Operational Systems). We take an analytical approach to the weak links in each of the weapon systems in the inventory and analyze the deficient items with a view toward developing a systematic reliability improvement program.

We want to find the items that are causing flight safety problems, those that are causing high maintenance man-hours and high repair hours. If we get at those items, systematically, we can attain a high order of improvement in reliability on many of the systems and subsystems that we have. Let me illustrate. We have a tire on one aircraft that has been in use for some time. Since 1962, through great effort, a contractor working with the Air Force has doubled the life of that tire, from 5 landings to 10 before wear-out. We do not know what the practical top limit is, but we ought to get up to 100 landings on those tires before wear-out. That’s the kind of improvement I am talking about.

Another example: In recent years, there has been enough advancement in electronics to give us much longer life in electronic systems than we are now getting. We are being plagued with high failure rates of only 25 hours between failures. We ought to be getting 2500 hours between failures. So we are working hard on the systems that we are going to keep in the inventory, to improve these failure rates. This will not only reduce our support cost but also improve the operational capability of our forces.

To improve our support in another area, we have organized in AFLC a division to work with Headquarters USAF, Tactical Air Command, Military Airlift Command, and Air Force Systems Command on the tactical and overall mobility of the Air Force. Manned by some of our most capable people, this organization has the goal of substantially improving the mobility of our forces in the future.

A vital factor in improving the mobility of forces is the C-5A and what it is going to do for our capabilities. By the time we have a full inventory of these aircraft we will have four times the airlift capability that we now have. C-5A-type airplanes will revolutionize air logistics, and the Air Force has a great deal of preparatory work to do.

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet will also be modernizing with aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and the airbus type of aircraft, which will greatly increase airlift capability in any future emergency.

The Air Force must be prepared for this kind of evolution in air logistics. We must also be aware of the reason we should use this capability in peacetime. One of the great gains to be achieved will be reduction in airlift cost per ton-mile. Our costs have been steadily decreasing, with today’s direct operating cost of military airlift at less than 10 cents per ton-mile. The capability of the C-5A gives evidence of a direct operating cost at about 4.5 cents per ton-mile. When this rate is reached, many more items will be eligible for airlift from the economic point of view.  We are now studying with the Army and the Navy to determine the additional items that will be airlifted.

The Air Force currently moves about 10 percent of its cargo—other than liquids such as fuel, petroleum, and lubricants—by air. It is likely that in the 1970s we will airlift 25 to 30 percent just because it is the economical thing to do. From the standpoint of contingencies, one can visualize the greatly increased capability we will have to move large forces quickly. We must place great emphasis on research and development planning, to take utmost advantage of the greater mobility of our forces.

Air Force Logistics Command procurement transactions (excluding stock funds*) are at a record high, currently amounting to approximately $2.7 billion annually. It is difficult for the man in the street to comprehend the magnitude of defense procurement and its impact on American society. Let me quote from the Mahon Committee report, issued on 18 July 1968, on this subject:

*A working-capital fund established to provide a simplified means of financing and accounting for the purchase, holding and sale of common use items.

The magnitude of defense procurement and logistics activities and policies are such as to directly affect every state and, directly or indirectly, the vast majority of the American people. In 1967 alone, defense prime contract awards totaled $44.6 billion and encompassed 15.1 million separate procurement actions. Inventories of weapons and equipment in use in this same time frame amounted to $95.5 billion . . . .

These staggering sums of public money impose a sacred trust and responsibility on all of us who handle them. Every administrative device we can develop and apply is used to ensure that the best interests of the nation are protected and served.

The Mahon Committee noted this enormous responsibility:

The basic objective of those charged with the administration of a program of this awesome magnitude is to secure prime quality equipment and weapons systems at reasonable costs and in an efficient manner. The most effective way yet demonstrated to achieve this objective is through timely, competitive procurement . . . “maximum effort must be made by defense procurement and contracting officials to assure the acquisition of new systems of desired quality at fair and reasonable prices to the government.

The objective, so clearly outlined in the Mahan report, is the guiding principle behind the procurement policies of AFLC. Our major objective has been, and continues to be, to “provide timely support of our operational requirements without sacrificing sound procurement practices and goals.” Effective management, both on our part and that of our contractors, is a must. Of course, the public interest must always be our primary concern; nevertheless, we must always ensure that fair and equitable practices govern the buyer-seller relationship.

I have referred at great length to systems, programs, problems, machines, aircraft, and policies. Now I would like to discuss the greatest and mast important single resource we have. It outweighs and overshadows everything else. Of course I mean our people, military and civilian, men and women.

Without the vast amount of professional talent in AFLC, little would get done. It is the logistician who solves the problems I have discussed, and it is his skill that will solve future problems. Yet, because of his importance, even he has not escaped our plans far improvement. The future will be filled with unknown problems, of a variety and complexity we can only surmise. Our military and civilian work force must be trained and ready to meet and solve these problems.

Therefore, one of the mast important things we are doing for the future is providing for the modernization of our human plant.

Looking at our situation today, we are somewhat behind the power curve in some respects. We have made great strides in the last 10 or 15 years in educating our military people. Officers coming on board now, with very few exceptions, are college graduates or better. More than 81 percent of our present officers have bachelor degrees or higher, and in the future it will be 100 percent.

While our civilian work force does not have as high a percentage of college graduates as desired, we are attempting to upgrade their educational level, and as our older civilians retire we will replace them to the maximum extent possible with promising college graduates.

What I am saying is that, capable as our military and civilian workers are at all levels, we must do better if we are to meet the logistics challenges of the world of the 1970s and 1980s.

Someday there will be third-generation computers, and after that a fourth generation. The C-5A system, the airbus, and the heavy lift helicopter—and only the most imaginative can foresee what is beyond them—will be part and parcel of a vastly complex logistics system different from what we have today. We must have sophisticated and highly trained human resources fully prepared to operate that system. Thus, we must train and train.

This, then, is the true role of Air Force Logistics Command in the aerospace age. Immense, complex, and vital, logistics is still, as it has always been, the lifeblood of a military force.

Hq Air Force Logistics Command

*Editor’s note: The Defense Supply Agency was the subject of an article by Lieutenant General Earl C. Hedlund, its Director, in Air University Review, XIX, 4 (May-June 1968), 2-12.


General Jack G. Merrell (USMA) is Commander, Air Force Logistics Command. After flying training in 1940, he served during World War II with the 39th, 491st, and 389th Bombardment Groups, as Commander of the latter. His postwar assignments have been with Air Transport Command, 1945-48, ending as Chief of Staff, MATS Atlantic Division; as Commander, Kindley AFB, Bermuda, 1949-51; Commander, 1600th Air Transport Wing, Westover AFB, Massachusetts, 1951-53; student, Air War College, 1953-54; Chief, Plans and Programs Division, later Deputy Director, Personnel Planning, DCS/P, Hq USAF, 1954-59; Deputy commander, later Commander, Eastern Transport Air Force, MATS, 1959-60; Deputy Chief of Staff/Plans, Hq MATS, 1960-62; Director of the Budget, DCS/Comptroller, Hq USAF, 1962-64; Comptroller, Hq USAF, 1964-67; and Vice Commander-in-Chief, Hq USAFE, until his present assignment in March 1968.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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