The trust deficit – why do we expect logistics to fail us?

In our most popular post, Australian Army Officer Gabrielle Follett, asked ‘why do we expect logistics to fail us?’. As Gabrielle explains, this is not an issue resident in the relationships between combat commanders and logisticians. Instead, Gabrielle highlights the fear or being without, and the implicit assumption by logisticians that the logistics ‘continuum’ will fail them, as being equal contributors to the problem. Will exercising logistics at a greater depth, or training personnel in a combined arms ‘schoolhouse’ environment be enough to overcome these problems? Perhaps the answer to our issues with trust goes beyond competence and is a consequence of what logistics ‘is’. Battles can be won without artillery or tanks, but deny for whatever reason food, fuel and ammunition and forces will ultimately expire. Risk tolerance is therefore low. Furthermore, as forces naturally exploit their combat capabilities to the limit of their potential – a potential earned in considerable part by logistics – the means of their sustainment are always at a precipice. As Gabrielle points out, it is best that armies exercise well in peacetime to achieve ‘[t]ransparent honesty’ about their limits, being ‘essential to build trust so that when we truly do require lead times or genuinely can’t meet a requirement, our relationship with our dependencies is robust enough to accept that some things truly aren’t possible.’ – Editor.

Logistics In War

By Gabrielle M. Follett.

Trust. The willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability of the ability to monitor or control that other party[1].

In a recent post in ‘From the Green Notebook’ David Beaumont noted that, for the sustainment of decisive action to be effective, logistics must be characterised by ‘trust between commanders, combat forces and logisticians’.  Almost every military logistician – and no doubt the majority of our combat arms brethren – would agree.

If we accept that trust between all parties is essential to effective military logistics, why then do tactical commanders in the Australian Army generally adopt a policy of self-reliance when it comes to combat service support? At every level of the Combat Brigade supply chain – from…

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