October 1997

Chapter 1: NATO Logistics


103. There are many definitions of logistics and each places a different emphasis on the relationship of strategy, tactics, movement and production. In NATO, however, the agreed definition of logistics reads as follows:

The science of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of forces. In its most comprehensive sense, the aspects of military operations which deal with:

  1. design and development, acquisition, storage, transport, distribution, maintenance, evacuation and disposition of materiel (1);
  2. transport of personnel;
  3. acquisition or construction, maintenance, operation and disposition of facilities;
  4. acquisition or furnishing of services; and
  5. medical and health service support."

104. This definition covers a wide range of responsibilities that fall into different areas of the NATO organization. If one considers that logistics comprises both the building up of stocks and capabilities and the sustainment of weapons and forces, then it is clear that a distinction can be made between two important aspects of logistics: the first one dealing with production and the second one with consumption. The following definitions of these aspects enjoy widespread acceptance within the NATO logistics community.

  1. Production Logistics (also known as: acquisition logistics That part of logistics concerning research, design, development, manufacture and acceptance of materiel. In consequence, production logistics includes: standardization and interoperability, contracting, quality assurance, procurement of spares, reliability and defence analysis, safety standards for equipment, specifications and production processes, trials and testing (including provision of necessary facilities), codification, equipment documentation, configuration control and modifications (2).

  2. Consumer Logistics (also known as: operational logistics) That part of logistics concerning reception of the initial product, storage, transport, maintenance (including repair and serviceability), operation and disposal of materiel. In consequence, consumer logistics includes stock control, provision or construction of facilities (excluding any material element and those facilities needed to support production logistic facilities), movement control, reliability and defect reporting, safety standards for storage, transport and handling and related training (3).

105. Whereas the two aspects of logistics described above have to do with the relationship between the producer and the consumer, there are two additional aspects that have to do with how logistics functions are performed.

  1. Cooperative Logistics

    There is no NATO definition yet, but cooperative logistics could be described as follows:
    "NATO Cooperative Logistics is the totality of bilateral and multilateral consumer and production logistics arrangements to optimize in a coordinated and rationalised way, logistics support to NATO forces.
    The aim of NATO Cooperative Logistics is to achieve costsavings through economy of scale and increased efficiency in peacetime, crisis and wartime logistics support.
    Development of NATO Co-perative Logistics arrangements is largely facilitated by the use of NATO Production and Logistics Organizations (NPLOs), particularly the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) using modern techniques in the field of materiel management and procurement."

  2. Multinational Logistics

    For multinational operations, logistics must function as an effective force multiplier. With the risk now omni-directional, the diminishing logistic support resources, and the principle of shared logistics responsibilities, the evolution toward multinational logistics becomes of utmost importance. There is not yet a NATO definition of Multinational Logistics but it is proposed that this term cover:
    "The different means to logistically support operations other than purely national, such as multinational integrated logistic support, role specialization support and lead nation support."


  1. Materiel: equipment in its widest sense including vehicles, weapons, ammunition, fuel, etc.

  2. At NATO Headquarters the lead authorities are the Defence Support Division (International Staff) and the Armaments Branch of the Logistics, Armaments and Resources Division (International Military Staff).

  3. At NATO Headquarters the lead authorities are the Logistics Directorate (International Staff) and the Logistics Branch of the Logistics, Armaments and Resources Division (International Military Staff)

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