October 1997

Chapter 7: NATO Principles and Policies for Logistics

Logistic Policies

704. Following policies are to be observed.

  1. General

    Logistic support should be provided by balancing the peacetime provision and locations of logistic assets and conflict consumables with the ability to resupply and reinforce to ensure timely and continuous support. This must include appropriate arrangements for peace support operations beyond NATO's Area of Responsibility.

  2. Logistic Planning
    1. Logistic support concepts, structures and procedures must be tailored to the respective forces and their related employment options.
    2. Logistic planning, including movement and transportation planning, should be executed as an integral part of defence planning, and be consistent with force and operational planning. The consideration of Host Nation Support (HNS) and/or the use of local resources is a vital and indispensable part of that planning process.
    3. National and NATO logistic planning must be harmonised as early as possible during the operational planning process.

  3. Force Planning and Generation
    1. The readiness and availability of logistic units and personnel should be adapted to the force they support, thereby ensuring the timely support of the force.
    2. Mission related logistic force generation under peacetime conditions is an important aspect of planning for non-Article 5 operations. Therefore, logistic force requirements must be established at an early stage and in consultation with nations, taking into account the need to man the force continuously in the event of a protracted operation.
    3. Non-NATO nations should be integrated into the force generation process for non-Article 5 operations at the earliest opportunity.
    4. Logistic capabilities required, including those to support non-Article 5 operations, should be identified within the force planning process and the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP).
    5. The achieved levels of standardisation must be taken into consideration when forces are generated and the order of battle is established.

  4. Logistic Command and Control
    1. In order to coordinate national and multinational logistics and to execute their logistic authorities and responsibilities, NATO Commanders must have appropriate logistic command and control capabilities within their staffs. Designated NATO HQs should have the ability to establish a responsive deployable command and control structure for multinational logistic operations if required.
    2. The communications and information systems between NATO, national and multinational logistic staffs must provide efficient and compatible interfaces. As required, provision should be made for reliable communications with participating non-NATO nations and other organisations such as the UN, OSCE, WEU and NGOs.
    3. Logistic reporting must provide sufficient visibility to enable NATO Commanders to fulfil their mission, and to accommodate the graduated needs of peace, crisis and conflict.

  5. Responsibility
    1. The NATO Commander establishes the logistic requirements, and co-ordinates logistic planning and support within his area of responsibility. This will include, in close cooperation with nations, the implementation of the different methods for logistic support, such as purely national support or multi-national logistics.
    2. Appropriate responsibilities should also be granted to a non-NATO Commander of a multinational force within a NATO-led operation. Vice versa, the NATO Commanders' responsibilities will also apply for non-NATO nations' troop contingents.
    3. The NATO Commander assumes responsibility for tasks as directed. These could include, in addition to logistics, where appropriate:
      • rear area security;
      • operating points of entry and lines of communication;
      • coordination of the use of real estate; and
      • theatre level engineering.
    4. Each nation bears ultimate responsibility for ensuring the provision of logistic support for its forces allocated to NATO. This may be discharged in a number of ways, including agreements with other nations or with NATO. NATO Commanders may be tasked to mediate and coordinate such agreements.
    5. Nations retain control over their own resources, until such time as they are released to the NATO Commander.
    6. The provision of specific logistic functions may be assumed by a lead nation or by a role specialist nation. The lead nation may also assume the responsibility to coordinate logistics of other nations within its functional and regional area of responsibility.

  6. Authority
    1. NATO Commanders at agreed levels have the authority to redistribute specified logistic assets committed by nations for the support of the forces under their command. Redistribution is not a routine procedure but only a temporary expedient to overcome unanticipated deficiencies in support of an operational mission. Redistribution shall not jeopardise the survivability of the providing force (see Chapter 13).
    2. The NATO Commander assumes control of commonly provided resources as directed.
    3. The specific rules concerning authorities, responsibilities and funding in the case of multinational integrated logistic units are to be established at an early stage during the planning process and well before transfer of authority.
    4. The NATO Commander has the authority to establish requirements for HNS and the use of local resources, to initiate and participate in bilateral and multilateral negotiations and, where appropriate, to conclude HNS arrangements on behalf of sending nations subject to their prior concurrence. Specific arrangements will govern this process for forces of NATO nations outside the integrated military structure, for forces of non-NATO nations and for negotiations with other organisations such as the UN, OSCE, WEU, and NGOs.
    5. The NATO Commander is authorized to require reports on, and inspect (1), in peace, crisis and conflict, the quantity and quality of specified logistic assets designated to support the forces which will be under his command. For non-NATO nations, this will include the certification of logistic units prior to the deployment and inspection as required of specified logistic assets.

  7. Cooperation
    1. Logistic cooperation between the civilian and the military sectors, within and between nations, must make best use of limited resources.
    2. Duplication of common logistic functions must be minimized. Equitable cooperative arrangements and mutual assistance among nations in the provision and the use of logistic resources should ease the individual burden. The application of the different modes of multinational logistics such as multinational integrated logistic support, role specialization in certain logistic areas, commonly funded resources and the lead nation principle should be considered where these are beneficial and cost effective as appropriate solutions in providing logistic support, especially for multinational forces. The potential of NATO agencies, such as the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA), in the support of multilateral ventures should be considered when this is cost-effective.

  8. Movement and Transportation
    1. Movement systems and transportation resources must be able to respond to force and logistic deployments, sequentially or concurrently, to accommodate de-escalation, to adjust the movement flow, and even to reverse it.
    2. Sufficient transportation capability, with associated standardized movement control, coordination and prioritization systems, must be provided from military and civil resources.
    3. Nations should ensure ready and economical access to appropriate civil and military transportation resources and infrastructure, in order to meet reaction times in peace, crisis or conflict.
    4. The use of military and civilian transport resources made available for the deployment, resupply and redeployment of forces, must be co-ordinated at the appropriate level, and must be responsive to the NATO Commanders' overall priorities.
    5. Detailed principles and policies for movement and transportation are laid down in MC 336/1 (see Chapter 14).

  9. Host Nation Support
    1. The variety of deployment options requires that a generic approach be taken towards HNS planning. As a consequence, nations will generate appropriate military and/or civil support capacities and capabilities - in accordance with logistic arrangements/Memoranda of Understanding - to conduct HNS planning in coordination with NATO authorities. However, there will remain circumstances, notably but not exclusively for Reaction Forces, in which HNS planning against specific requirements can and should continue. For operations beyond NATO's Area of Responsibility, provisions must be made for a central co-ordinating and contracting capability at theatre level.
    2. The NATO principles and policies for HNS planning are laid down in MC 334/1 in more detail (see Chapter 12).

  10. Civil Resources
    1. An optimum balance between use of military and civil resources should be exploited whenever feasible, reliable, timely and cost-effective.
    2. Nations should review national legislation and other arrangements to facilitate the use of civil resources in peace and early in the crisis spectrum, in particular with respect to HNS, transportation, other deployment-related resources, infrastructure, and industrial support.
    3. When feasible, the dual use of resources should be actively pursued. Defence features should be incorporated in the design and construction of civil assets and installations as appropriate and cost-effective, thus enabling them to meet the military requirement when this exceeds that needed for commercial use.

  11. Medical

    While many general logistic precepts apply to medical support, medical authorities face unique operational and technical problems affecting the health of armed forces. Thus, medical support requires that distinctive principles, policy, and guidance be defined:

    1. In Article 5 and non-Article 5 operations, the goal of military medical services is to provide medical care at a standard as close as possible to prevailing peacetime standards, given military exigencies.
    2. The medical support system of a force must be capable of maintaining the necessary quality and quantity of treatment and evacuation activities during peace, crisis, and conflict. This requires having on hand or in reserve appropriate medical equipment, supplies, and evacuation capacity, as well as having the ability to resupply and to replace medical personnel on a continuous basis.
    3. Medical support plans must include detailed measures for the prevention of disease and injury to deploying forces as a key factor of personnel sustainability.
    4. The medical capabilities in the area of operation must be in balance with the force strength and the exposure to risk. The aim must be to provide, prior to the onset of crises or hostilities, sufficient capability so as to adequately collect, evacuate, treat, and hospitalise casualties at the expected rate, and to expand this capability as needed.
    5. The responsibility for obtaining medical support resources, and for planning and controlling the medical support of national forces and national components of multinational forces, rests with each nation. This principle must be tempered by the need for cooperation, coordination, and economy, and may include cooperative arrangements initiated by NATO Commanders. Nations retain the ultimate responsibility for the health of assigned forces but, on transfer of authority, the NATO Commander will share the responsibility for the health of assigned forces.
    6. Detailed medical support precepts and guidance, governed by specific medical factors, are laid down in MC 326 (see Chapter 16).

  12. Armaments and Standardization
    1. Logistic support considerations should be integrated into the design and production of systems and equipment . Equally, the design of military equipments and systems should take account, wherever possible, of civil components and standards.
    2. Standardization of materiel and services has a direct impact on sustainability and combat effectiveness and should therefore be attained as far as possible. The minimum objectives are interoperability of main equipment, interchangeability of combat supplies, and commonality of procedures. Sufficient flexibility must be provided to allow the inclusion of non-NATO nations in NATO-led operations.

  13. Funding
    1. For Article 5 operations, the established funding and budget principles and policies will apply.
    2. For non-Article 5 operations, beyond NATO's Area of Responsibility, specific principles and policies will be established by the NAC. These should be available as early as possible and provide sufficient flexibility and practicable authorities for the commander in the field. As a prerequisite, this requires a timely and credible request by the NATO Military Authorities to the NAC.


MC 319/1
NATO Principles and Policies for Logistics
MC 326/1
Medical Support Precepts and Guidance for NATO
MC 334/1
NATO Principles and Policies for Host Nation Support Planning
MC 336/1
The Movement and Transportation Concept for NATO
MC 400/1
Military Implementation of the Alliance's Strategic Concept


  1. France cannot accept the authority to inspect logistic assets

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