Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943

Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943

Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943

Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943

Excerpt

The great conflict of 1939-45 was not the first world war (nor even the second), nor was it the first war that drove some of its participants close to the limits of their material resources. But in the combination of these characteristics it brought forth problems, in the technical and administrative spheres, of a degree if not of a kind that was new in the history of warfare. World War II produced, in effect, a new logistics -- new in that it was at once interconnected and global. Every local logistical problem was part of a larger whole; none could be settled without consideration of the impact its settlement would have on other local problems, often in a widening circle of repercussions rippling clear around to the other face of the world. As the war itself was global, the logistics of each battle or campaign often had world-wide ramifications, even though the outcome of the operation itself might be purely local in its effects. A handful of landing craft, two or three freighters, a few precious tanks used at one spot might mean a desperate lack somewhere else.

In this volume we have viewed the logistical problems of the U.S. Army in World War II from the point of view that most accentuated their interconnected and global character -- the point of view of the high command and staffs in Washington. We have confined ourselves to those large problems that more or less constantly engaged the attention of the high command: transportation across oceans and continents -- division of effort and resources in a coalition of sovereign, unequally endowed nations, different in their interests and outlook -- co-ordination of logistical support of "joint" operations employing land, sea, and air power in varying admixtures -- development of effective planning techniques for anticipating needs in men and matériel long before they emerged -- organizational and administrative difficulties attendant upon mobilization and an unprecedented expansion of the nation's military power -- the delicate relationships between strategy and logistics, especially in the formulation of strategic plans -- the frictions of interagency co-ordination, both within the Military Establishment and between it and the civilian authorities. The most persistent theme is the chronic, pervasive competition for resources -- a competition that was scarcely diminished even when the war machine began to pour out those resources with a prodigality the world had never before seen.

This approach has its disadvantages. In looking out from the center at a distant horizon, so to speak, we may have missed some of the hard and humdrum reality of logistics, as many of our readers no doubt experienced it --

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