Learning from Past Defence Logistics Experience in Order to Inform Future Logistics Practice

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This monograph highlights the importance of logistics in the modern operational environment by analysing three case studies that focus upon the logistic issues of a particular past campaign. Each will seek to examine the role of logistics by considering what have been regarded as the five principles of successful logistics, namely foresight, economy, flexibility, simplicity and co-operation. Published as Whitehall Paper No. 52, ISBN: 00855161418.


<ul><li><p> 1 </p><p>Learning from Past Defence Logistics Experience </p><p>in Order to Inform Future Logistics Practice: </p><p>Is what is Past Prologue? </p><p>David M Moore, Jeffrey P Bradford and Peter D Antill </p><p> Acquisition and Logistics Unit </p><p>Department of Defence Management and Security Analysis </p><p>Royal Military College of Science </p><p>Shrivenham </p></li><li><p> 2 </p><p>Preface </p><p>Any consideration of military operations in the mid-to-late twentieth century should be tempered </p><p>by logistical realities. For those nations who enjoy immediate territorial security, their national </p><p>interest in the use of military force is often of a diffuse and geographically distant nature. </p><p>Historical antecedents often influence political commitments. There therefore exists a corpus of </p><p>knowledge that can assist the logistician (and indeed the operational commander) in </p><p>understanding the difficulties in conducting operations far from national territory. </p><p>It is pertinent therefore, to examine a series of three case studies centred upon logistic issues that </p><p>seek to examine the role of logistics by considering what have been regarded as the five </p><p>principles of successful logistics, namely foresight, economy, flexibility, simplicity and co-</p><p>operation. </p><p>The introduction will give an outline of the developments in military logistics through the ages, </p><p>from the time of the Assyrians, through to the possible logistics of a Warsaw Pact / NATO clash </p><p>in Central Europe. The chosen cases themselves are written as interesting papers in their own </p><p>right and can be considered from a singular perspective or in a collective manner. To further </p><p>develop these cases they will be examined in the light of modern logistics practice and </p><p>consideration will be given to the lessons that can be gained from their examination. </p><p>The first case examines the role of logistics in the invasion of Europe. This examines the </p><p>essential nature of logistics planning, co-ordination and political and physical support aspects in </p><p>what is arguably one of the most influential campaign of the century. It identifies the time </p><p>factors, ingenuity and foresight of the logisticians of that era. The second paper examines an oft </p><p>forgotten campaign, which showed the innovation and use of vision in delivering strategy and </p><p>applying tactical awareness. The paper utilises the principles noted earlier. Many approaches </p><p>pioneered and utilised successfully here are now, in a more formal manner, essential elements of </p><p>logistic strategy. In a commercial sense, the principles applied provide excellent lessons for </p><p>modern business practice. The third and final paper brings the more recent Gulf conflict into </p><p>focus, as another campaign fought at a distance utilising more modern technology, yet </p><p>identifying vital lessons for logistic strategy in regard to the five logistic principles and modern </p><p>commercial practice. </p><p>The conclusion will summarise the lessons drawn from the case studies in the context of the </p><p>UKs recent Strategic Defence Review and the ongoing Smart Procurement initiative, noted against the five principles identified earlier. </p></li><li><p> 3 </p><p>The Development of Military Logistics: An Introduction </p><p>Logistics is a relatively new word used to describe a very old practice: the supply, movement and </p><p>maintenance of an armed force both in peacetime and under operational conditions. Most </p><p>soldiers have an appreciation of the impact logistics can have on operational readiness. Logistic </p><p>considerations are generally built in to battle plans at an early stage, for without logistics, the </p><p>tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery pieces, helicopters and aircraft are just numbers on a </p><p>Table of Organisation and Equipment. Unfortunately, it often seems that the high profile weapon </p><p>systems have had greater priority in resources than the means to support them in the field, be it </p><p>ammunition, fuel or spares. For it is logistics that will determine the forces that can be delivered </p><p>to the theatre of operations, what forces can be supported once there, and what will then be the </p><p>tempo of operations. Logistics is not only about the supply of matriel to an army in times of </p><p>war. It also includes the ability of the national infrastructure and manufacturing base to equip, </p><p>support and supply the Armed Forces, the national transportation system to move the forces to be </p><p>deployed and its ability to resupply that force once they are deployed. Thus it has been said, </p><p>logisticians are a sad, embittered race of men, very much in demand in war, who sink resentfully into obscurity in peace. They deal only with facts but must work for men who </p><p>merchant in theories. They emerge during war because war is very much fact. They disappear in </p><p>peace, because in peace, war is mostly theory. (Foxton, 1994, p. 9) The practice of logistics, as understood in its modern form, has been around for as long as there </p><p>have been organised armed forces with which nations and / or states have tried to exert military </p><p>force on their neighbours. The earliest known standing army was that of the Assyrians at around </p><p>700 BC. They had iron weapons, armour and chariots, were well organised and could fight over </p><p>different types of terrain (the most common in the Middle East being desert and mountain) and </p><p>engage in siege operations. The need to feed and equip a substantial force of that time, along </p><p>with the means of transportation (i.e. horses, camels, mules and oxen) would mean that it could </p><p>not linger in one place for too long. The best time to arrive in any one spot was just after the </p><p>harvest, when the entire stock was available for requisitioning. Obviously, it was not such a good </p><p>time for the local inhabitants. One of the most intense consumers of grain was the increasing </p><p>number of animals that were employed by armies of this period. In summer they soon overgrazed </p><p>the immediate area, and unless provision had been made beforehand to stockpile supplies or have </p><p>them bought in, the army would have to move. Considerable numbers of followers carrying the </p><p>materiel necessary to provide sustenance and maintenance to the fighting force would provide </p><p>essential logistic support. </p><p>Both Philip and Alexander improved upon the art of logistics in their time. Philip realised that </p><p>the vast baggage train that traditionally followed an army restricted the mobility of his forces. So </p><p>he did away with much of the baggage train and made the soldiers carry much of their equipment </p><p>and supplies. He also banned dependants. As a result the logistics requirements of his army fell </p><p>substantially, as the smaller numbers of animals required less fodder, and a smaller number of </p><p>wagons meant less maintenance and a reduced need for wood to effect repairs. Added to that, the </p><p>smaller number of cart drivers and lack of dependants, meant less food needed to be taken with </p><p>them, hence fewer carts and animals and there was a reduced need to forage, which proved </p><p>useful in desolate regions. Alexander however, was slightly more lenient than his father was, as </p><p>regards women. He demonstrated the care he had for his men by allowing them to take their </p><p>women with them. This was important; given the time they spent away on campaign and also </p><p>avoided discipline problems if the men tried to vent their desires on the local female population </p></li><li><p> 4 </p><p>of newly conquered territories. He also made extensive use of shipping, with a reasonable sized </p><p>merchant ship able to carry around 400 tons, while a horse could carry 200 lbs. (but needed to eat </p><p>20 lbs. of fodder a day, thus consuming its own load every ten days). He never spent a winter or </p><p>more than a few weeks with his army on campaign away from a sea port or navigable river. He </p><p>even used his enemys logistics weaknesses against them, as many ships were mainly configured for fighting but not for endurance, and so Alexander would blockade the ports and rivers the </p><p>Persian ships would use for supplies, thus forcing them back to base. He planned to use his </p><p>merchant fleet to support his campaign in India, with the fleet keeping pace with the army, while </p><p>the army would provide the fleet with fresh water. However, the monsoons were heavier than </p><p>usual, and prevented the fleet from sailing. Alexander lost two-thirds of his force, but managed </p><p>to get to Gwadar where he re-provisioned. The importance of logistics was central to </p><p>Alexanders plans, indeed his mastery of it allowed him to conduct the longest military campaign in history. At the farthest point reached by his army, the river Beas in India, his soldiers had </p><p>marched 11,250 miles in eight years. Their success depended on his armys ability to move fast by depending on comparatively few animals, by using the sea wherever possible, and on good </p><p>logistic intelligence. </p><p>The Roman legions used techniques broadly similar to the old methods (large supply trains etc.), </p><p>however, some did use those techniques pioneered by Phillip and Alexander, most notably the </p><p>Roman consul Marius. The Romans logistics were helped of course, by the superb infrastructure, including the roads they built as they expanded their empire. However, with the </p><p>decline in the western Roman Empire in the Fifth Century AD, the art of warfare degenerated, </p><p>and with it, logistics was reduced to the level of pillage and plunder. It was with the coming of </p><p>Charlemagne, that provided the basis for feudalism, and his use of large supply trains and </p><p>fortified supply posts called burgs, enabled him to campaign up to 1,000 miles away, for extended periods. The eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire did not suffer from the same decay as </p><p>its western counterpart. It adopted a defensive strategy, which Clausewitz recognised as being </p><p>easier logistically than an offensive strategy, and that expansion of territory is costly in men and </p><p>material. Thus in many ways their logistics problems were simplified they had interior lines of communication, and could shift base far easier in response to an attack, than if they were in </p><p>conquered territory, an important consideration, due to their fear of a two-front war. They used </p><p>shipping and considered it vital to keep control of the Dardanelles, Bosphorous and Sea of </p><p>Marmara; and on campaign made extensive use of permanent warehouses, or magazines, to </p><p>supply troops. Hence, supply was still an important consideration, and thus logistics were </p><p>fundamentally tied up with the feudal system the granting of patronage over an area of land, in exchange for military service. A peacetime army could be maintained at minimal cost by </p><p>essentially living off the land, useful for Princes with little hard currency, and allowed the man-</p><p>at-arms to feed himself, his family and retainers from what he grew on his own land and given to </p><p>him by the peasants. </p><p>The fighting ships of antiquity were limited by the lack of endurance while the broad beamed </p><p>seaworthy merchant ships were unsuited to the tactics of the time that were practised in the </p><p>Mediterranean. It wasnt until the Europeans put artillery on-board such vessels that they combined the fighting and logistic capability in one vessel and thus became instruments of </p><p>foreign policy with remarkable endurance and hitting power. They reached the zenith of their </p><p>potential during the Napoleonic Wars, but with the conversion to coal and steam power, a ships endurance was once again limited. But they could still carry their ammunition and supplies </p><p>farther and faster, and were thus more logistically independent than horse-powered armies, </p></li><li><p> 5 </p><p>despite the need for coaling stations. Fuel oil increased endurance by forty percent, but that was </p><p>due to its greater efficiency as a fuel source. The coming of the fleet train and underway </p><p>replenishment techniques during the Second World War enhanced the endurance of modern </p><p>navies massively, and ships could thus stay at sea for months, if not years, especially with the </p><p>reduced time between dockyard maintenance services. The coming of nuclear power once again </p><p>extended the sea-going life of a vessel, with endurance limited to that of the crew and the </p><p>systems that need a dockyard to be overhauled. </p><p>The appeal by Emperor Alexius to the Pope for help in clearing Anatloia of the Turks in 1095 </p><p>paved the way for a series of Western European military expeditions which have become known </p><p>as the Crusades. As a result of these, the Western Europeans significantly advanced their practice </p><p>of the military arts. </p><p>The First Crusade ran from 1096 until 1099 and ended with the capture of Jerusalem. It didnt start very well however, with the various contingents from Normandy, Sicily, France, Flanders </p><p>and England having ten leaders, internal friction within the army, which at times was no better </p><p>than a rabble, and having a strong distrust of the Byzantines which was reciprocated. The </p><p>Crusaders had no interest in recapturing lost Byzantine lands, while the Emperor had no interest </p><p>in Jerusalem. The lack of a supply system almost brought it to grief on two occasions early on, </p><p>when the Crusaders almost starved while besieging Antioch and after the capture of the city, </p><p>were besieged themselves. The army advanced south to Jaffa the following year, and appeared to </p><p>learn the logistic lessons from the previous experience. There was far more co-operation between </p><p>national contingents and they had the advantage of the Pisan fleet sailing parallel to their route to </p><p>provide logistic support. This of course only lasted while they were fairly close to the coast, but </p><p>the army soon had to turn inland towards Jerusalem. The Crusaders were too small in number to </p><p>completely surround the city and could not easily starve the city into submission as the governor </p><p>of Jerusalem had ordered all the livestock to be herded into the city and stockpiled other </p><p>foodstuffs. The Crusaders also found themselves short of water, and thus time was not on their </p><p>side. The Crusaders thus attempted an assault as early as possible without siege engines and </p><p>while they overran the outer defences, could not make any headway against the inner walls. </p><p>Fortunately, the English and Genoese fleets arrived in Jaffa at this point, but conveying their </p><p>cargo to Jerusalem was time consuming and expensive in both men and animals. Additionally, </p><p>there was a shortage of decent timber with which to make siege weapons with, but some was </p><p>finally found on some wooded hills near Nablus, fifty miles north of Jerusalem. Again, this was a </p><p>time consuming and expensive operation. By the time work had started on the siege towers it </p><p>was mid-summer, the Crusaders were suffering from a shortage of water and word had been </p><p>received that an Egyptian army was marching to the relief of the city. The Crusaders speeded up </p><p>their preparations and finally rolled out their siege towers and assaulted the city, on the 13th</p><p> and </p><p>14th</p><p> of July, which fell that night. </p><p>The Second Crusade consisted of a French army under King Louis VII and a German army led </p><p>by Emperor Conrad III. It was launched to take back Edessa from the Muslims and was a logistic </p><p>d...</p></li></ul>


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