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Deployment-to-dwell metrics and supply-based force sustainment

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Abstract

Purpose In the present fast-paced and globalized age of war, special operations forces have a comparative advantage over conventional forces because of their small, highly-skilled units. Largely because of these characteristics, special operations forces spend a disproportionate amount of time deployed. The amount of time spent deployed affects service member’s quality of life and their level of preparedness for the full spectrum of military operations. In this paper, the authors ask the following question: How many force packages are required to sustain a deployed force package, while maintaining predetermined combat-readiness and quality-of-life standards? Design/methodology/approach The authors begin by developing standardized deployment-to-dwell metrics to assess the effects of deployments on service members’ quality of life and combat readiness. Next, they model deployment cycles using continuous time Markov chains and derive closed-form equations that relate the amount of time spent deployed versus at home station, rotation length, transition time and the total force size. Findings The expressions yield the total force size required to sustain a deployed capability. Originality/value Finally, the authors apply the method to the US Air Force Special Operations Command. This research has important implications for the force-structure logistics of any military force.

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