What is Logistics — Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms –
The science of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of forces. In its most comprehensive sense, those aspects of military operations which deal with: design and development, acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, vacuation, and disposition of materiel; movement, evacuation, and hospitalization of personnel; acquisition or construction, main-
tenance, operation, and disposition of facilities; and acquisition or furnishing of services.
From Joint Publication 4.0, Doctrine for Logistic Support of Joint Operations ( 6 April 2000 )
The science of logistics concerns the integration of strategic, operational, and tactical sustainment efforts within the theater, while cheduling the mobilization and deployment of units, personnel, equipment, and supplies in support of the employment concept of a geographic combatant commander. The relative combat power that military forces can bring to bear against an enemy is
constrained by a nation’s capability to plan for, gain access to, and deliver forces and materiel to the required points of application across the range of military operations.
Supply is the function of acquiring, managing, receiving, storing, and issuing the materiel required by forces.
Maintenance includes actions taken to keep materiel in a serviceable condition or to upgrade its capability.
Transportation is the movement of units, personnel, equipment, and supplies from the point of origin to the final destination.
Civil engineering provides the construction, operation, maintenance, damage repair, and reconstitution of facilities, roads, and utilities and logistic infrastructure.
Health services includes medical evacuation, hospitalization, medical logistics, medical laboratory services, blood management, vector control, preventive medicine services, veterinary services, and dental services.
Other services are nonmaterial support activities provided by Service personnel and the logistic community that are essential to force support. For each of the above functional areas, the combatant commander should consider these four elements of the joint theater logistic process: procurement and contracting, distribution, sustainment, and disposition and disposal.
(From “Word Origins and Their Romantic Stories” by Wilfred Funk, Litt. D.)
“In addition to Tactics and Strategy, the French invented a third military science which they called Logistique, our Logistics. This
is the business of moving, supplying and quartering soldiers. It stems from the French Loger, which means to quarter”, that is, “to find lodgings.”.”
(From “Logistics in World War II – Final Report of the Army Service Forces” published by the Center of Military History (p. 251))
“The security of the United States presents a complex problem in logistic preparedness. How should we plan, and how can we organize for national security? What should be the place of logistics in the organization? What should be the relationship of logistic agencies to the combat arms and to other Government agencies? What is the best internal organization for accomplishing logistic functions? How shall we provide for the continuous research and development of new weapons; for adequate quantities of equip-
ment and sufficient numbers of trained forces to meet sudden attack; for rapid manpower, industrial, and Government mobilization?
These are questions for which we must find satisfactory answers. They must be approached objectively, intelligently, and with courage. It is inevitable that the human tendencies to revert to old habits of thought and action, to promote segmentary interest, to protect the established order, to resist change, to be swayed by sentiment, will exert powerful influences. These tendencies have
no place in our efforts to insure our Nation’s security. Realism demands that we rise above lesser motivations and loyalties and work always for the highest good of the Nation.”
Quote from A.C. P. Wavell, Speaking Generally, (London, 1946) page 78-9
“The more I see of war, the more I realize how it all depends on administration and transportation… It takes little skill or imagination to see where you would like your army to be and when; it takes much knowledge and hard work to know where you can place our forces and whether you can maintain them there. A real knowledge of supply and movement factors must be the basis of every leader’s plan; only then can he know how and when to take risks with those factors, and battles are won only by taking risks.”
Lt Col George C. Thorpe, Pure Logistics, 1917
Logistics…”embraces not merely the traditional functions of supply and transportation in the field, but also war finance, ship con-
struction, munitions manufacture and other aspects of war economy.”
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.
General Antoine Henri Jomini, Precis de l’Art de la Guerre (The Art of War), 1838
Logistics comprises the means and arrangements which work out the plans of strategy and tactics. Strategy decides where to act; logistics brings the troops to this point.
General Antoine Henri Jomini
Logistics is the “practical art of moving armies.”
Experience has taught me that manufacturers are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort.
Joint Pub 4-0, Doctrine for Logistics Support of Joint Operations, Sep 25, 1992
Seldom will all logistics principles exert equal influence; usually one or two will dominate in any given situation. Identifying those principles that have priority in a specific situation is essential to establishing effective support.
Admiral Hyman Rickover
To inquire if and where we made mistakes is not to apologize. War is replete with mistakes because it is full of improvisations. In war we are always doing something for the first time. It would be a miracle if what we improvised under the stress of war should be perfect.
A little neglect may breed mischief: for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost.
Capt John P. Laverdure, Scott Air Force Base, HQ Air Mobility Command, 1996
You realize when shoeing the horse that the shoe may be thrown–possibly causing the horse to run, so you have a mule on
standby to get the rider to the war.
Capt John P. Laverdure, Scott Air Force Base, HQ Air Mobility Command, 1996
Logistics Planning – The wisdom to realize when working on plan A, you’ll run into conflicts in executing plan B and being properly
prepared, and successfully executing plan E.M. Cox
Lean forward. It’s always better to fall on your face than on your backside.
Behind every great leader there was an even greater logistician.
RADM Henry E. Eccles, USN, Ret, Logistics in the National Defense, 1959
The programs of training and exercises form the final test of logistics readiness. Since the majority of junior officers and enlisted
men in the logistics services are specialized in a technical field, sound technical training is their fundamental preparation for war.
In addition, however, specific attention must be paid to the development of fundamental discipline, leadership, and personal versa-
tility which are so vital to efficient logistics service under wartime conditions.
James A. Huston, The Sinews of War: Army Logistics 1775-1953, 1966
“Logistics…in the broadest sense, the three big M’s of warfare–material, movement, and maintenance. If international politics is
‘the art of the possible,’ and war is its instrument, logistics is the art of defining and extending the possible. It provides the sub-
stance that physically permits an army to live and move and have its being.”
Captain A.T. Mahan, Armaments and Arbitration, 1912
Logistics…as vital to military success as daily food is to daily work.
Air Force Manual 1-1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force, Essay T, March 1992
The ideal for all military forces is to reduce their logistical requirements to necessities only.
Joint Pub 1, Joint Warfare of the U.S. Armed Forces, November 1991
Logistics sets the campaign’s operational limits.
Rear Admiral Henry Eccles, U.S. Navy
The essence of flexibility is in the mind of the commander; the substance of flexibility is in logistics.
Logistics must be simple–everyone thinks they’re an expert.
My logisticians are a humorless lot…they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.
CLM-National What It’s All About
Logistics: The Profession – As a business professional with a vested career interest in the field of logistics, you are a part of a
highly dynamic profession: current global developments and technological innovations are impacting logistics today as never
before. While the logistics function’s contributions to a firm’s competitive strength have often been “invisible” in the past, many fac-
tors have coalesced to heighten its importance and visibility in the 1990s and beyond.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, British Army Doctrine Publication, Volume 3, Logistics (June 1996) p. 1-2
Throughout the struggle, it was in his logistic inability to maintain his armies in the field that the enemy’s fatal weakness lay. Cour-
age his forces had in full measure, but courage was not enough. Reinforcements failed to arrive, weapons, ammunition and food
alike ran short, and the dearth of fuel caused their powers of tactical mobility to dwindle to the vanishing point. In the last stages of
the campaign they could do little more than wait for the Allied advance to sweep over them.
Lt Gen Alfred M. Gray, Jr., Marine Corps Gazette (July 1987)
As we select our forces and plan our operations,….(w)e must understand how logistics can impact on our concepts of operation…
Commanders must base all their concepts of operations on what they know they can do logistically.
Tom Clancy, Red Storm Rising
The tactics…no, amateurs discuss tactics,…. Professional soldiers study logistics.