A ‘Logistics in War’ primer: Logistics and the art of command

By David Beaumont.

For commanders, the objective and purpose of logistics is to establish and subsequently sustain the combat effectiveness of forces. Logistics shapes strategic and tactical decision making, and is an influence on the conduct of the operational art. However, commanders, and the ‘command climate’ they generate, can also have a profound influence of the efficiency of logistics. Through the authority we afford military leaders, the actions and decisions of commanders give logistics structure and control the human behaviours which contribute to inefficient logistics. Their attitudes are powerful influences on the preparedness of the logistics system. Trust, the ‘under-planning, over-planning’ response and other factors are raised as challenging phenomenon that must be addressed in war.

The second ‘Logistics in War’ primer, Logistics and the art of command, aims to challenge misconceptions we may have about logistics, and its relevance to commanders and their decisions.

‘Logistics is about winning battles and wars by assuring the existence of combat power, therefore underpinning much of what a commander must do, and what decision he or she must make. The responsibility for efficient logistics lies with the commander – at whatever level from the junior leader to the field marshal – who prioritises and allocates resources to create the situation which gives her or him the greatest combat potential and freedom of action. This component of the operational art postures the combat force in such a way that tactical objectives are actually achievable.’ 

You can find the primer here.

David Beaumont is a serving Australian Army officer. The thoughts here are is own.

A Logistics in War Primer: how we make a sustainable and balanced military force

‘[N]o distinction in importance can be made between combat functions and logistics functions’ and that ‘no distinction should be drawn …. in establishing priorities (between them).’

In ‘The Arm behind the Spear’, the first Logistics In War Primer, David Beaumont presents an introduction to logistics in force design, including the ‘tooth to tail ratio’, and two cases which highlight challenges in achieving a balanced force. The first, logistics force development in the Australian Army, highlights the impact of organisational change on the achievement of a logistically balanced force. The second, the US Army’s raising and trialling of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team  during the early 2000’s, outlines the impact of a divergence between logistics concepts during force design and the actual employment of the capability. These cases may be familiar to regular LIW readers; however, this primer provides a concise general summary and broad considerations in an easy to read format.

From the introduction:

This primer will firstly describe why logistics matters in force design, and why logistics capabilities are essential for a balanced force. It will next investigate balance through an abstract measure – the ‘tooth to tail ratio’ (T3R). The T3R can be a misused measurement, but can be used to highlight trends in the force structure of militaries. The primer will then move onto two cases in force design. The first, concerning logistics development within the Australian Army over the last fifteen years, highlights the costs of rapid organisational change to optimising logistics forces. The second, an outline of the US Army’s raising of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team capability, shows how overly optimistic beliefs on logistics capacity and capability creates an unbalanced force.

The primer can be found here.

This primer is trialling a new format which may complement other LIW articles in the future. Your thoughts to improving the content in Logistics In War is vital to its continued success. Please send any feedback to logisticsinwar@outlook.com