Basic Logistic Principles and Concepts

This course will allow the trainee to become familiar with the most commonly used principles and concepts that are used in the Belgian Defense Logistic World. The target group for this course is the Belgian Air Force Officer having a managers function in a unit. After this course, the officer will be better prepared to get into conversation with logistic experts and with material managers by using the correct wording and by better understanding the used vocabulary.

General Introduction on Logistics

Historical background

"Maître de Logis" 

Napoleon Bonaparte was the first military commander who created a dedicated logistic function within his armed forces: "maître de logis", which basically means "master of lodging". The art of supporting military forces is now far more than providing lodging, it has become a real science meanwhile.

The science of Logistics

Logistics is a military invention, but has become today a real science, prominent in military applications as well as in civil economics. Today's logistics is not only about supporting core processes ar military operations, but it is also a key to efficiency and even survivability of a company.

NATO Definition of Logistics

Logistics as defined by NATO

NATO defines logistics as  

"The science of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of forces"

It includes the following aspects:

  • Design and development, acquisition storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation and disposal of material
  • transport of personnel
  • acquisition or construction, maintenance, operation and disposition of facilities
  • Acquisition or furnishing of services
  • medical and health service support

(Ref AAP-6 - NATO Glossay of terms and Definitions)

Reflexion exercice: Looking at the different aspects of NATO Logistics, which service of the Belgian Defense organisation do you think is mainly (maybe not exclusively) responsible to ensure each activity ?

  • Design and development, acquisition storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation and disposal of material
    DGMR (Systems Division)
  • transport of personnel
  • acquisition or construction, maintenance, operation and disposition of facilities
    DGMR (Division CIS & Infra)
  • Acquisition or furnishing of services
    ACOS Ops&Trg  and  DGMR
  • medical and health service support

Why these domains? (Illustration of the domains within Belgian Air Force)


Taking the example of the Belgian Airforce, the 5 domains of logistics (Material - Infrastructure - Transport - Services - Medical Support) as enumerated in the NATO definition, are illustrated below.

(Hover with your mouse over the "i"-icons in order to activate a pop-up with additional information)

Did you know?

Production Logistics or Operational Logistics ?

Why different types of logistics?

We should distinguish two levels of logistic activities. Both levels (or layers) are absolutely necessary to perform Air Operations in Belgium or abroad. These levels are : Production Logistics and Operational Logistics.


This is the layer of logistics that has a 'long term' aspect, meaning that it is mainly aiming at long term planning and creating the correct structure, organisation, and tools to enable continued operational use of a system. therefore, we could say that Production Logistics are activities that have a proactive character.


This layer of logistics has a far more reactive character. This layer is closer to the user than production logistics and encompasses far more short-term aspects. Operational Logistics are activities that are a rather direct reaction after a given operational tasking or a (sudden) event.

  • Acquisition of Material & Systems
    • Design, Development, Prototyping and Production.
    • Acquisition on the market
  • Depot Maintenance
  • Storage Directives
  • NATO - Codification of items
  • Standardisation
  • Creation of Contracts for Material and Services
  • Catering & Lodging
  • Resupply of goods
  • Storage
  • Servicing of aircraft
  • Repairs & Inspections
  • Transport Needs

Logistic activities on national territory


Why Codification?

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Dismissal / Discarding

Withdrawal from service