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Military Fuel Supply Chains in the Pacific Area of Operations

Since 1999, the NPS Operations Research Department research has conducted research related to operational fuel availability, storage, and transport, especially in the Pacific Area of Responsibility. Most of these studies develop mathematical models of a fuel system and use them to evaluate system capacity and performance. Many of these studies also evaluate system resilience in the presence of damaging acts of Mother Nature or of an intelligent, observant adversary. In some cases, specific components and capabilities are highlighted and shown to be of crucial importance to either defend or reinforce to preserve system function. Some related projects have been classified, and references to these are available upon request for access by qualified readers.

Our role in studying the military fuel supply chain has been

  1. to develop mathematical models that represent the capabilities of the fuel transport & distribution network in Pacific theater, and 
  2. to exercise these models under various what-if scenarios to assess these capabilities
    • identify vulnerabilities, weaknesses, gaps
    • consider potential mitigations

Our models address the question: Given available supplies, what is the capability of the fuel transport & distribution network to satisfy the schedule of fuel demands?

  • Time Horizon: 60, 90, or 120 days
  • Activities: movement and storage of fuel by type, by location, by day.
  • Performance: demand shortfalls (“unmet” demand), by location, by day.

Our analyses identify key tradeoffs in space and time, and help us to understand how economic drivers for "faster, better, cheaper" solutions during peacetime can actually result in vulnerable, brittle systems during times of conflict. The question becomes: How to become more efficient in using limited resources while still being able to respond and adapt to surprises?