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"Logistics" Topic

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donlowry17 Mar 2017 9:34 a.m. PST

I've been reading "An Army at Dawn" by Rick Atkinson (about the U.S. experience in North Africa), and I noticed an interesting quote from Rommel: "The battle is fought and decided by the quartermasters before the shooting begins." I was surprised that Rommel would say this, as it sounds more like Montgomery's thinking than Rommel's.

Any thoughts?

(Sorry about the multiple posts, some kind of computer glitch.)

olicana17 Mar 2017 9:55 a.m. PST

Depends when he said I suppose. If he said it after 2nd Alamein its not.

Rommel was quite happy to drive off into into the blue (as his dash to the wire in November 41 proved) but there was a something like an elastic logistic stretch in North Africa. When the British advanced too far from Egypt they were forced to stop (or they would be sprung back by need of logistics), and when the Germans advanced too far from Tripoli the same happened.

It explains why the Germans captured so much logistical stuff in Tobruk in the summer of 42 (following the Gazala battles) the British were stockpiling supplies there for their own offensive, knowing that they couldn't advance further with overstretched supply back to Alex. Even so, Rommel had to stop at the Egyptian Frontier where his own logistics were stretched to the limit. The comparative length of supply lines pretty much decided what would happen before 2nd El Alamein was fought.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 10:37 a.m. PST

An army travels on its stomach. Old as the hills and I suppose any good commander realizes it at some point.

Mako11 Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 1:11 p.m. PST

Yea, especially when you are far from home, on another continent, and a lot of your supply vessels are being interdicted, and/or sunk by the enemy.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 1:16 p.m. PST
Phil Hall17 Mar 2017 1:35 p.m. PST

" An amateur studies tactics. A professional studies logistics". Don't know who said it but it is true

Legion 417 Mar 2017 1:37 p.m. PST

Based on my experiences '79-'90 in the US ARMY as an Infantry Officer. And for better or worse, being assigned as a both a Mech Bn and Bde S4 (Logistics Officer) and BMO (Bn/Bde Maint. Officer). You rapidly learned any army really did run on its stomach, tracks, wheels, oil, etc.

If a vehicle couldn't shoot, move and communicate. It was a muliti-ton paper weight. "Beans & Bullets" was the phrase. As well as the two quotes Don and Phil posted were often said.

As many gamers don't know. And it really is not anyone's fault per se. And I'm not being critical(!). Don't misunderstand. Many gamers having not served in the military, etc. It's not very "glamorous, or "sexy" but being in those Staff Officer positions proved to be very important [and a real pain in the butt many times !]. From toilet paper to the nuts & bolts that hold vehicles and aircraft, etc., together, etc. All are really important to combat readiness, effectiveness, and mission accomplishment, etc. A Rifle, MG, etc., without bullets or lub is a very expensive "club".

We all liked to be Plt Ldrs, Co. Cdrs as I did. Then Bn, Bde Cdrs, etc., as most gamers do too. But most of the time an officer spends his time in Bn and/or Bde staff positions.

Having been in 4 Infantry Bns 1 Air Assault, 3 Mech, 1 CBT SPT Bn then finally a Mech Bde HQ. After your time as a Plt Ldr. You get moved around a bit, in various positions. Co XO or a Staff position usually. And hoping you're next to get your time as a Company Commander.

And as was see historically, as tech increased, Log & Maint functions increased. Not only did say e.g., Rommel need AFVs and trucks/rolling stock, etc. He/his troops needed food, water, ammo, fuel/POL[Petro, Oil, Lub], medical supplies, parts for everything from a rifle bolt to a tank main gun, etc., etc.

But my point being, many don't understand how important non-combat leadership positions are. But yes for gaming purposes Log & Maint do not really make a "good game". However, in real life. It is as important as being a Plt Ldr and Co Cdr. But regardless, as with a football team, every position has it's purpose, function and mission. And good staff work/Officers/WOs/NCOs leaves Combat Cdrs more time to do the tactics, etc., of war. Which we all like to wargame.

Believe me if the Mess cooks the bacon too crispy or there is no cheese in the scrambled eggs. You hear about from the MAJ or, LTC or COL ! It happened ! huh?

Major Mike17 Mar 2017 2:27 p.m. PST

While attending the Armor School at Ft. Knox, for a class on logistics we focused upon North Africa. We looked at Shipping and Port capacities and all available transport for the Germans. Got to look at fuel consumption for the transport (round trip to the front). By the time they reached Alamein there was very little fuel to be delivered. Add in food, ammo, spare parts and all the other little things to make an army move makes it a wonder he could hold off the British. There is and entire US Army series of books on logistics during WWII in Europe. The books covering the build up for Normandy and the estimates for supplies coming over the shore and thru the ports are also eye opening.

Grignotage17 Mar 2017 2:45 p.m. PST

It seems that if your logistics are better than the enemy's, your troops need only be basically competent. And if your logistics suck, nasty +1 elite troops typically lose.

Striker17 Mar 2017 3:04 p.m. PST

I can't remember the name but I have a book on logistics through various wars. It has interesting numbers for WWII, especially Africa and the Eastern Front.

Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 5:02 p.m. PST

Striker, you're thinking of Van Crefeld's classic _Supplying War_. I am right now in the middle of Ian Toll's _The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944_ and the logistics of the Island-hopping campaign is truly astounding.

zoneofcontrol17 Mar 2017 5:22 p.m. PST

"What's for supper?" – my two teenagers EVERY night!

'nuf said.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 5:49 p.m. PST

Marine Corps Logistics

Marines are trained to more and more with less and less until they can do everything with nothing.

USMC 1972-75

PS Ok, so we steal it all from the Army

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2017 6:07 p.m. PST

When the Marines were scheduled to deploy to the gulf/mid-east they reactivated logistics officers that had experience delivering supplies from the US to SE Asia as far back as 1966. It was too important of a task to leave to new guys. I'm sure the other branches did something similar.

That's the advantage the bad guys have today. All they need is an AK, pajamas, turban and some goat jerky. US troops need batteries, air conditioners, USB chargers, toilet paper, feminine hygeine products, video games and sun glasses.


jowady17 Mar 2017 7:35 p.m. PST

That's the advantage the bad guys have today. All they need is an AK, pajamas, turban and some goat jerky. US troops need batteries, air conditioners, USB chargers, toilet paper, feminine hygeine products, video games and sun glasses.


Funny, the exact same thing (different comforts but you get the idea) was said of the Japanese vis a vi the Americans in the Pacific in WW2.

vicmagpa118 Mar 2017 5:59 a.m. PST

trying to incorporate that simple logic in my game system. If trying to move and you roll a "0' (10). YOU RAN OUT OF GAS! WAIT FOR pol TRUCK TO COME. Then you can move again. Ignore second "0" result.

donlowry18 Mar 2017 9:13 a.m. PST

I don't know WHEN Rommel said it. Perhaps it is the lesson he learned from 2nd Alemain?

To vicmagna1: That isn't logistics, that's just luck. Incorporating into the game the need to plan for the delivery of the POL when and where needed, that's logistics.

Legion 418 Mar 2017 10:07 a.m. PST

I think Rommel may have said, "The Desert is a Tactician's dream but a Logistician's nightmare", IIRC.

I can say from experience the desert is very rough on equipment as well as the troops.
That desert sand that is soft gritty dust or powder is not anything like beach sand.
It gets everywhere. Even in fully enclosed mechanical systems.
Lubs for everything has to be used sparingly, etc.. Oil weights have to change for vehicles, etc.
The "sand" acts like sand paper. Wears down rubber, metal, etc. Tank tracks wears more quickly. As do helicopter blades, etc.

The one thing humans need before food is water. There is very little of it around. Not like in temperate climates or tropical locations.

Legion 418 Mar 2017 10:20 a.m. PST

It was too important of a task to leave to new guys.
Once a Cdr knows he has some in his command that understand Logistics. They are more than happy to find that out. Again he and the Ops & Intel guys can spend most of there time on strategy & tactics.

They are secure in knowing that supplies will always be available in the right locations, etc. Everything is being done to keep all equipment, machines and even people "fully Mission Capable".

Legion 418 Mar 2017 10:26 a.m. PST

Funny, the exact same thing (different comforts but you get the idea) was said of the Japanese vis a vi the Americans in the Pacific in WW2.
Well e.g. more IJFs died at Guadalcanal from starvation, disease, etc. than were killed by US Forces. And that can be pretty much said about most locations that IJFs invaded. All thru the PTO and CIB, etc. And we saw … that is not the way to win a war. In the long run.

That's the advantage the bad guys have today. All they need is an AK, pajamas, turban and some goat jerky
Just like the VC, they have home court advantage. It's their backyard. And with this type of lower intensity warfare. The insurgent/guerilla fights only with what he has on hand or takes locally, etc. Even being supplied by outside entities. The insurgent knows. He does not have to "win" … just don't "lose". They are not going anywhere.

Even today with the influx of "Foreign Fighters". Many come from similar locals. And have some level of local support. Plus are willing to die for their "cause".

Personal logo wrgmr1 Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2017 12:23 p.m. PST

On board the H.M.C.S. Columbia back in the summer of 1975, we were woken up to do a jack stay. Crowded on the forecastle, being sprayed with waves and rain, we transferred a pallet of toilet paper.
The one time we transferred an anti-submarine mortar bomb, it hit the side of the ship. I'm still here, so it didn't blow up. Ships need a lot of supplies.

jah1956 Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2017 3:43 p.m. PST

It was too important of a task to leave to new guys

Yes but did not Rommel give command of his logistics to a very low ranking officer???

Legion 418 Mar 2017 4:10 p.m. PST

I'd imagine Rommel's Log OIC was at least a COL ? But I'm not completely sure how his General Staff was organized, etc.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2017 8:06 p.m. PST

Was the low ranking officer Rommel picked the one with the most experience? Rank is nice but it does not mean you can get the job done.

In the US armed forces Warrant Officers are the best and most specialized in their MOS but rank wise are below a 2nd LT. They get there through experience and accomplishments. When I was in they were the most respected. Ther title was always "Gunner". They give Colonels and General advice.

A friend of mine is a Marine Colonel and VN vet and has been getting called to active duty because he's the logistics expert. He functions more like a consultant to the active duty guys and isn't "officially" in the chain of command.


Legion 419 Mar 2017 8:39 a.m. PST

I agree Wolf. And as I have said, about anyone being in the military or even a Vet. Experience … experience …experience …

Something you can't get from a book.

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