October 1997

Chapter 13: Multinational Logistics

The Multinational Joint Logistic Centre (MJLC) Concept

1311. NATO's New Force Structures provide a much higher degree of multinationality than during the cold war period. This applies not only to the number of multinational units which exist or are emerging but also to the deeper multinational integration at lower levels of command. Consequently, the logistic support system and structures also needed to be adapted to that process. In order to assume the enhanced logistic authorities and responsibilities of NATO Commanders and to enable NATO headquarters at the different levels of command to properly coordinate the logistic support within their area of responsibility, the MNC's are developing the MJLC concept. (1)

1312. The MJLC concept is to be regarded as the logistic pillar of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concept (MC 389). It provides for the tools in terms of structures and procedures which the NATO Commander needs to exercise his logistic authorities and responsibilities in an effective and well coordinated fashion.

1313. Whilst MC 389 provides a solid foundation for the establishment of an MJLC, there are several salient points related to its formation which are fundamental and which should be amplified:

  1. Flexibility. The guiding principle for the formation of a CJTF HQ and an MJLC is flexibility. Flexibility increases the organization's ability to respond to changing needs and reduces response time. Flexibility is improved by modularity, and trained and ready staffs.
  2. Modularity. A modular approach to structuring the MJLC is essential, especially for non-Article 5 operations. This includes organizational templates and modular building blocks of MJLC functions which may be quickly added, shifted, or deleted as the requirements of an operation change.
  3. Training. No substitute exists for trained and ready staffs. These must be available upon activation of an MJLC if the centre is to be initially effective. Therefore, parent HQs will be identified to accommodate the MJLC nucleus staff. MJLC Employment Options

1314. Within the overall CJTF command and control organization in the MJLC itself should be considered a module that is flexible in adapting to different requirements and command and control structures as the situation dictates. In principle the MJLC can be deployed or used in following options:

  • for individual augmentation of CJTF HQ - Logistic Staff Elements;
  • as an MJLC centre integrated in or collocated with the CJTF HQ; and
  • as the logistic staff element within a CJTF Support Command. The decision for either option and on the size and authority of that element depends on the overall logistic concept of the operation, the size and complexity of component participation as well as on force contributing nations.

1315. The capability and flexibility to escalate the logistic command and control organization from an augmented staff to a larger more complex and capable MJLC must exist. The following considerations will help guide this decision.

  • Is there a NATO Host Nation (Article 5 operation)? If so, many logistic functions may be performed by the Host Nation and thus reduce the need for a large MJLC organization or even for a MJLC at all.
  • Notwithstanding that a Host Nation might have considerable assets, the suitability of those assets to purpose, the legal agreements between the Host Nation and NATO, the quality of goods and services available and the costs of Host Nation services will still have a bearing on the eventual requirement for the numbers of specialist staff within the modules of the MJLC.
  • Is there a capable non-NATO Host Nation? There may be cases where the NATO led force can be based in a non-NATO nation. The degree of familiarity which the Host Nation has with NATO procedures will also impact on the size and functions of the MJLC.
  • What is the scope of the multinational logistic coordination effort? If the logistic effort is provided primarily under national responsibility, then the requirement for an MJLC is significantly lessened. Conversely, provision of common services and resources under the responsibility of the NATO Commander (e;g; NATO infrastructure engineering, centralized contracting and the use of multinational logistics) may require a significant MJLC effort.
  • What is the degree to which multinational integrated logistic support units are employed? The use of these assets necessitates that a significant coordination function be given to the MJLC.
  • What is the make-up of the force in terms of size and structure by components?


  1. The MJLC concept is still under development. After a series of tests within the framework of CJTF trials it will be formalized.

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