‘[T]he procurement process itself is a weapon of war no less significant than the guns, the airplanes, and the rockets turned out by the arsenals of democracy.’
Business and corporate enterprise has always been a partner of the military in peace and war. The relationship goes beyond the development of specific services to support discrete operational requirements. Similarly, it goes beyond the provision of materiel for the creation of military forces through acquisition and capability sustainment. Industry sits at the union of the military and the national economy, and the effectiveness of logistics support to combat forces is a function of the quality of industry’s involvement. A transactional relationship between logisticians and commercial partners, one which may be characterised by an inflexible approach to military requirements and over-promising by industry as to what must be delivered, degrades eventual outcomes. It is therefore argued that a sophisticated understanding of the relationship – often captured in the concept summarised as ‘commercial acumen’ – must be a major feature in the education and training of logisticians.
Earlier this year, Australian Army officer Carney Elias penned two important articles on improving the standard of commercial acumen in the Australian Defence Force’s logisticians. The article may be written in the context of unique circumstances, but the ideas and approaches to addressing the problem of preparing logisticians can, and should, be broadly applied.
Image available from the National Archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial.