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Distribution network design on the battlefield



Ammunition, whether it be an arrow in the middle ages, a lead bullet in the 1800s, or a laser guided smart bomb today, has been the most prominent factor in determining the outcome of combat. Failing to supply the required amount of ammunition properly may lead to defeat. Our main objective in this study is to provide a decision support tool that can help plan ammunition distribution on the battlefield. We demonstrate through an extensive literature review that the existing models are not capable of handling the specifics of the problem in this study. To this end, we propose a novel three-layer commodity-flow location routing formulation that distributes multiple products, respects hard time windows, allows demand points to be supplied by more than one vehicle or depot, and locates facilities at two different layers. We derive several valid inequalities to speed up the solution time of our model, illustrate the performance of the model in several realistically sized scenarios, and report encouraging results. Finally, we introduce a dynamic model that designs the distribution system in consecutive time periods for the entire combat duration. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 58: 188–209, 2011