Six strategic challenges – global logistics integration and the state of professional discourse

By Hayden Marshall. In part one of ‘Six strategic challenges for Defence logistics’ Air Commodore Hayden Marshall describes how digital disruption and cyber threats are likely to change Defence logistics in the future. In part two, the challenges of globally integrated logistics and improving professional discourse are raised. As described in part one, this article… Continue reading Six strategic challenges – global logistics integration and the state of professional discourse

LIW Editorial – Strategy Bridge: Reconsidering Rear Area Security

Mark Gilchrest, an Australian Army officer and Featured Contributor at The Strategy Piece makes a great point in his article 'Reconsidering Rear Area Security' - it is a mistake to think that the battle ends where the 'rear area' begins. Furthermore, in the non-linear battlefield that we believe we face in the future, planning for… Continue reading LIW Editorial – Strategy Bridge: Reconsidering Rear Area Security

Commercial acumen in the training of the ADF’s logisticians

By Editor. ‘[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.’ I.B. Holley[1] Business and corporate enterprise has always been a partner of the military in peace and war. The relationship goes beyond the development of specific… Continue reading Commercial acumen in the training of the ADF’s logisticians

Future Logistician – framing a new approach

Logistics In War

By Major General David Mulhall.

What do we need of our military logisticians in the future?  Or perhaps, what skills, attributes, experiences and education will best prepare logisticians to deliver outcomes in a Joint environment? An environment that is characterised by change; changes in war fighting concepts and capabilities, quantum leaps in our capacity to source and manipulate information, and the possibilities of artificial intelligence to improve our decision-making and management of system performance.

I had the great fortune while visiting the US last September to attend a thought-provoking presentation by the American political scientist, international relations scholar and specialist on 21st century warfare, P.W. Singer.  He posed a number challenging questions that day, but four ideas in particular resonated with me:

  • How do we prepare our logisticians to think about and develop future requirements beyond what we know currently?
  • How do we prepare our logisticians to best enable joint war-fighting in the Digital Age?
  • Our logistics enterprise needs to be relevant today and tomorrow in support of the Joint…

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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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‘Cunctator’ Part Three: the war feeds itself – civil logistics and modern-age siege warfare

By Erik A. Claessen. In June, 2017 Yisrael Katz, the Israeli Minister of Transport released a video that presented a plan to create an artificial island off the Gaza Strip. The proposal calls for the construction of a seaport as well as facilities to generate potable water and electricity on an artificial island connected to… Continue reading ‘Cunctator’ Part Three: the war feeds itself – civil logistics and modern-age siege warfare

While you were on exercise …. articles you may have missed

By Editor. Over the last two months a significant proportion of the readership participated in Exercise Talisman Sabre; a biennial exercise which saw the ADF, US forces from PACOM and elsewhere, NZDF and other participants engage in a significant certification of operational capability. Although the exercise may have concluded, many logisticians are still at work… Continue reading While you were on exercise …. articles you may have missed

Call for authors – exercising, joint logistics and the strategic level of war

Joint operations is not a new concept, nor is joint logistics. Militaries have been integrating the resources of two or more Services, and other supporting agencies, to maximise their combat potential and operational performance since ancient times. Over the last two years there has been considerable discussion about joint warfare as Western militaries consider their… Continue reading Call for authors – exercising, joint logistics and the strategic level of war

The ‘Headquarters Snowball’

By David Beaumont. The scale of logistics and the size of headquarters are routinely considered alongside one another because of the belief that smaller headquarters and logistics forces means more combat troops and, more importantly, efficient processes. This can be seen at the organisational level; most militaries have experienced periods of reform where efficiency-seeking impacts… Continue reading The ‘Headquarters Snowball’

Call for submissions – Creating the ‘Future Logistician’

Next month the Future Logistician series of posts begins. The first will be posted on the 8th of May, on a variety of topics relevant to the preparing the right logisticians, military and civilian, for their future appointments – especially at the operational and strategic levels of their organisations. Posts already received include commentary on the structure of education, the development of commercial acumen, and the balance between Service and Joint training among others.

There is always time to contribute to the community of logistic professionals and interested readers, and if you can’t make the deadline but wish to write please send a message and we’ll propose alternatives. If you are short of ideas, have a read of the ADF’s Strategic J4’s reframing of the problem in the post ‘Future Logistician: Framing a New Approach’.

Logistics In War

“Transforming those force projection and sustainment processes cannot be done without competent and dedicated military and civil service logisticians to manage the changes and the processes. DoD must help them develop the new skill sets in performance-based service contracting and contract oversight, change management, knowledge management, and financial resource management, and the new technical skills that the new process designs require.  They will continue to need the operational logistics skills developed and honed through the last several decades of experience in campaign support. Much of what this book discusses demands leadership skills—the ability to inspire colleagues, contractors, and customers to continuously improve their processes. It’s a tall order.”

– General William G.T. Tuttle Jr., US Army (ret.), 2005[1]

After one’s career as a military logistician, particularly for those few who might reach the highest echelons of the military such as General Tuttle, most will have traversed a path that…

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