Humanitarian Supply Chain – Syria Evacuation (CIV and MIL Supply Chains)

CASE STUDY CONCEPT: Supply Chain Planning Under Conditions of Stress and Uncertainty

SITUATION REPORT — Imagine there is suddenly a real opportunity to stop the fighting in Syria. The UN Security Council has approved the Munich Security Conference recommendation previously endorsed by the 17-nation International Syria Support Group. A Chapter VII Peace Enforcement mission is authorized with participant nations committing Peace Keeping (PK) forces as part of the approved UN Peace Support Operation (PSO).

You are in charge of logistics for this mission. The video below presents a quick overview of the mission, and the 5-step Mission & Operations Planning (M&OP) process you will use to create the supply chain plans to support this mission.


Mobilization of aforementioned PK units is expected to take 90 to 120 days, therefore President of the United States (POTUS) has directed Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), in concert with Secretary of State (SECSTATE), to map out requirements to: (1) begin de-escalation of combat operations within specified corridors of the contested areas within Syria to allow safe migration of refugees; (2) allow for safe passage and transit of NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations) and medical support as part of Humanitarian efforts within contested zones; (3) set up ‘safe haven’ areas for up to 500,000 refugees to be housed, clothed, fed and medically supported in a secure environment; and (4) act as advance logistics support force for the pending arrival of the UN Chapter VII PSO. The mission has been assigned code name “Inherent Rescue”.

The SECDEF has ordered the Commander, US Central Command (COMCENTCOM) to immediately begin planning and implementation of the POTUS directive.  Initial forces are to be enroute to the revised CENTCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) within 48 hours. Forces will operate under the command structure of Joint Task Force 51 (JTF-51)

Designated CENTCOM mission commander for JTF-51 has put together mission orders for Inherent Rescue. They are presented in the two concept of operations (CONOPS) diagrams shown below. Now it’s your job to create the logistics plans that will support this CONOPS.

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The diagram above shows where the mission facilities will be located and the functions each facility will support. The diagram below shows the personnel that will be stationed at each facility to carry out the functions assigned to each facility.

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How will you get the job done?

You might feel completely overwhelmed at the size of the task, and all the complexity, and the seemingly impossible challenge of being ready to go in 48 hours. But nobody wants to hear your excuses… so you have to do something.

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You decide to use an approach that combines a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS), cloud-based modeling and simulation application with a concise five-step mission and operations planning (M&OP) process as described in the video above. You use the resulting capability to explore options and make good decisions in a timely manner. You go with the best plan you can devise with the time and information available. Then you implement that plan and continue to monitor the situation and explore new options as the situation evolves.

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It’s a far better thing to make the best decisions you can in a timely manner (when it really counts), rather than trying to make perfect decisions later (when it’s too late anyway). The five-step M&OP process combined with supply chain simulations makes it possible.

Apply the 5-Step Mission and Operations Planning (M&OP) Process

Mission and operations planning (M&OP), is based on the sales and operations planning (S&OP) process used in commercial supply chains. The diagram below illustrates the five steps of the M&OP process. Steps 1,2 and 3 create the supply chain model for this humanitarian mission. Steps 4 and 5 use simulations to reconcile the supply plan with the demand plan and create the overall supply chain operating plan.

Watch the introductory video above and download a short report to learn more about the five-step M&OP process. Here’s the link to that report Modeling and Simulating Humanitarian Supply Chains” [Link]

The five-step M&OP process is summarized in a 14-slide presentation you can see and download from SlideShare here.

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After watching the video and reading the report, get started with this case study by loading the “Operation Inherent Rescue – Syria Evacuation” supply chain into your account from the online library. When you open this supply chain model in the Edit screen you will see that it is actually composed of two supply chains. One is a civilian supply chain to support the refugees, and the other is a military supply chain to support the troops who protect the humanitarian operation.

The initial supply chain you load from the library will run for five days and then problems start to happen. You need to respond to those problems and figure out how to get this supply chain to run for 15 days. Do what you feel you need to do, but also try to manage operating costs and inventory levels as best you can.

These kind of joint military-civilian humanitarian missions are expensive. And demand for such missions is increasing. There are useful ideas to be found in the section “Reducing Inventory and Operating Costs

Once you have a supply chain model that runs for 15 days, and after you have taken actions to reduce operating costs and inventory levels, put together a briefing for the commander of Joint Task Force 51 — the mission commander. Present your plan for how you will organize and operate the supply chain needed to support this mission. Include the following in your brief:

  • CONOPS showing operating facilities to be used and personnel located at each facility
  • Demand Plan based on CONOPS showing demand for different categories of products at each facility
  • Supply Plan showing vehicles and routes to deliver products to facilities to meet demand
  • Supply Chain Model showing location of products, facilities, vehicles and routes on map and specifications for each of these entities
  • Simulation Results showing operating costs and inventory levels at each facility over the first 15 days of the mission

Here is a mission planning template with the forms you need for the 5-step M&OP process. Data shown in the templates is from this Syria evacuation scenario. You can view online and download a copy from SlideShare.

TIP: Save backup copies of your supply chain model from time to time as you make changes. Click “Save” button next to your model in Account Management screen. Then if a change doesn’t work out, you can restore from a saved copy.


A few weeks later, after much diplomacy and negotiations, a decision is made to evacuate 200,000 of the refugees to two facilities on the island of Cyprus, as shown in the screenshot below. Begin planning for this new development in the mission.

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One facility is the British RAF base at Akrotiri, and the other is the city of Famagusta on the Turkish side of the island. Assume 50,000 refugees will go to Akrotiri, 150,000 will go to Famagusta, and 300,000 refugees will remain in the Homs safe haven in Syria.

You just had a meeting with the mission commander and you sketched out the model shown in the screenshot above. The mission commander looked at it and said yes go with it. So that’s the CONOPS for this new phase of the mission. When you left the meeting there was still a little ambiguity about how the mission commander wants to redeploy the troops protecting the operation, but what else is new? Make your best assessment and go from there. Now do your demand plan and use that to create your supply plan. Then use the data from the plans to define the products, facilities, vehicles and routes that make up the supply chain to support this new phase.

For ideas on how to expand this supply chain see “Tips for Building Supply Chain Models” for useful techniques.

Then run some simulations and find where the problems are; adjust your plans to fix those problems. Simulate a few supply chain designs and pick the best one. You know the drill… Oh, and by the way, mission commander wants to see your new logistics plan in 48 hours.

We live in a world where joint military-civilian humanitarian missions are called for with increasing frequency. So we need to get better at them. Working through this case study will give you strong insights into what is required to support humanitarian and military operations. Also remember, the supply chain designs that you find to work well in this case study will also work just as well in a real-world humanitarian mission.


MISSION REPORTING TEMPLATE — There is reporting template with an operations report and a performance dashboard for analyzing your simulation data. The template is built for a 15-day period. You can import your simulation data after trimming it for 15 days (scroll down to bottom of Analyzing Simulation Data). The operations report shows facility and product detail, and the dashboard shows where the best opportunities are for improvement. You can download a copy of the mission reporting template here.

The reporting template is set up for the Nepal Earthquake DR supply chain, but look at how the reports read the simulation data and you will see how to change the spreadsheet as needed to accommodate this case study.

To share your changes and improvements to this model (json file) with other SCM Globe users see “Download and Share Supply Chain Models

Register on SCM Globe to gain access to this and all other case studies. Click the blue “Register” button on the home page ( and buy a subscription (if you haven’t already) using a credit card or PayPal account. Then go to the SCM Globe library and click the “Import” button next to this case study. Scan the “Getting Started” section (if you haven’t already), and you are ready to go. To share your changes and improvements to this model with other SCM Globe users see “Download and Share Supply Chain Models


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