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Operational defense sourcing: organizing military logistics in Afghanistan

Christiaan Davids (Management Organization and Defense Economics Section, Faculty of Military Sciences, Netherlands Defense Academy, Breda, The Netherlands)
Robert Beeres (Netherlands Defense Academy, Breda, The Netherlands)
Paul C. van Fenema (Netherlands Defense Academy, Breda, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 8 March 2013




This paper aims to present a study on the organization of military logistics under “hot” conditions in an expeditionary crisis response operation. The authors' main research question is: in what way is armed forces logistics sourcing organized in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan?


To answer their research question, the authors conducted a case study including field research at military sites in Afghanistan. The case study is focused on military organizations that operate in a hostile and ambiguous environment. The authors compare sourcing of three categories of support services, i.e. facilities management, maintenance & logistics and security.


The authors' results include a systematic overview of the organization of command, logistic and accounting (sourcing) in the ISAF mission, involving multinational military partners and contractors. Second, the authors show how Canada, NATO, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the USA sourced the three categories of services mentioned in terms of sourcing profiles. Focusing on contracting, the authors outline which strategies NATO and the countries mentioned used in practice. And finally, differences and similarities are highlighted in the area of funding and accounting.

Research limitations/implications

While the authors' study provides insight in the use of sourcing profiles identified in this paper, more research is necessary to identify criteria for explaining sourcing decisions of armed forces.

Practical implications

The paper provides a systematic overview for practitioners and scholars and enhances manageability and policy development relevant for those who prepare, execute, monitor and evaluate missions.


The authors' paper is one of the first to provide a systematic overview in operational defense sourcing relying on first‐hand field data. This area of study is fragmented and remains mostly closed for non‐military researchers.



Davids, C., Beeres, R. and van Fenema, P.C. (2013), "Operational defense sourcing: organizing military logistics in Afghanistan", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 43 No. 2, pp. 116-133.



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