It built upon experience learned from the supply of the very-long-distance Falklands garrison —72 to systematize needed shipments to distant places such as Australia, Nova Scotia, and Sierra Leone.
This new infrastructure allowed Britain to launch large expeditions to the Continent during the French Revolutionary War and to develop a global network of colonial garrisons. Before the Napoleonic wars , military supply was based on contracts with private companies, looting and requisition legal taking of whatever the army needed, with minimal compensation.
Napoleon made logistical operations a major part of French strategy. The French system fared poorly in the face of a guerrilla warfare that targeted supply lines during the Peninsular War in Spain, and the British blockade of Spanish ports.
The need to supply a besieged Barcelona made it impossible to control the province and ended French plans to incorporate Catalonia into Napoleon's Empire. The first theoretical analysis of this was by the Swiss writer, Antoine-Henri Jomini , who studied the Napoleonic wars. In , he devised a theory of war based on the trinity of strategy , tactics , and logistics. In the American Civil War —65 , both armies used railways extensively, for transport of personnel, supplies, horses and mules, and heavy field pieces.
Both tried to disrupt the enemy's logistics by destroying trackage and bridges. During the Seven Weeks War of , railways enabled the swift mobilization of the Prussian Army, but the problem of moving supplies from the end of rail lines to units at the front resulted in nearly 18, tons trapped on trains unable to be unloaded to ground transport. With the expansion of military conscription and reserve systems in the decades leading up to the 20th century, the potential size of armies increased substantially, while the industrialization of firepower bolt-action rifles with higher rate-of-fire, larger and more artillery, plus machine guns was starting to multiply the potential amount munitions each required.
Military logistical systems, however, continued to rely on 19th century technology. When World War I started, the capabilities of rail and horse-drawn supply were stretched to their limits. Where the stalemate of trench warfare took hold, special narrow gauge trench railways were built to extend the rail network to the front lines.
The great size of the German Army proved too much for its railways to support except while immobile. On the seas, the British blockade of Germany kept a stranglehold on raw materials, goods, and food needed to support Germany's war efforts, and is considered one of the key elements in the eventual Allied victory in the war. The mechanization of warfare , starting at the tail end of World War I, added increasing ammo, fuel, and maintenance needs of tanks and other combat vehicles to the burden on military logistics. The growing needs of more powerful and numerous military ships and aircraft increased this burden even further.
On the other hand, mechanization also brought trucks to logistics; though they generally require better roads and bridges, trucks are much faster and far more efficient than fodder -bound horse-drawn transport. While many nations, including Germany, continued to rely on wagons to some extent,  the US and UK readily switched to trucks wherever possible.
Military logistics played a significant role in many World War II operations, especially ones far from industrial centers, from the Finnish Lapland to the Burma Campaign , limiting the size and movement of any military forces. In the North African Campaign , with a lack of rail, few roads, and hot-dry climate, attacks and advances were timed as much by logistics as enemy actions.
Poor logistics, in the form of Russia's vast distances and its state of road and rail networks, contributed to the fate of Germany's invasion of the USSR : despite many battlefield victories, the campaign lost momentum before the gates of Moscow. Breaking the logistics supply line became a major target for airpower ; a single fighter aircraft could attack dozens of supply vehicles at a time by strafing down a road, many miles behind the front line.
Air superiority became critical for almost any major offensive in good weather.
Allied air forces took out German-controlled bridges and rail infrastructure throughout northern France to help ensure the success of the Normandy landings , but after the breakout from Normandy , this now limited the Allies' own logistics. In response, the Red Ball Express was organized — a massive truck convoy system to supply the advance towards Germany. During the Battle of Stalingrad , Supplying by air, called an airbridge , was attempted by Germany to keep its surrounded 6th Army supplied, but they lacked sufficient air transport. Allied airbridges were more successful, in the Burma Campaign, and in " The Hump " to resupply the Chinese war effort.
A few years after the war, the Berlin Air Lift was successful in supplying the whole non-Soviet half of the city. At sea, the Battle of the Atlantic began in the first days of the war and continued to the end. Technological improvements in both U-boats and anti-submarine warfare raced to out-do each other for years, with the Allies eventually keeping losses to U-boats in check.
Logistics was a major challenge for the American war effort, since wartime material had to be supplied across either the Atlantic or the even wider Pacific Ocean. Germany undertook an aggressive U-boat campaign against American logistics on the Atlantic, but the Japanese neglected to attack shipping in the Pacific, using their submarines to fight alongside the surface Navy in large-scale battles.
Long logistical distances dominated the Pacific War. For the attack on Pearl Harbor , the Japanese required numerous oiler ships to refuel the attacking fleet at sea on-route. Massive numbers of transports, including thousands of US Liberty ships , were required to sustain the Allied forces fighting back towards the Japanese homeland.
As in the Atlantic, submarine warfare accounted for more losses than naval battles, with over 1, merchant ships sank. Logistics, occasionally referred to as " combat service support ", must address highly uncertain conditions. While perfect forecasts are rarely possible, forecast models can reduce uncertainty about what supplies or services will be needed, where and when they will be needed, or the best way to provide them.
Ultimately, responsible officials must make judgments on these matters, sometimes using intuition and scientifically weighing alternatives as the situation requires and permits. Their judgments must be based not only upon professional knowledge of the numerous aspects of logistics itself but also upon an understanding of the interplay of closely related military considerations such as strategy , tactics , intelligence , training , personnel , and finance. However, case studies have shown that more quantitative, statistical analysis are often a significant improvement on human judgment.
One such recent example is the use of Applied Information Economics by the Office of Naval Research and the Marine Corps for forecasting bulk fuel requirements for the battlefield. In major military conflicts, logistics matters are often crucial in deciding the overall outcome of wars. For instance, tonnage war —the bulk sinking of cargo ships—was a crucial factor in World War II. The successful Allied anti-submarine campaign and the failure of the German Navy to sink enough cargo in the Battle of the Atlantic allowed Britain to stay in the war and the ability to maintain a Mediterranean supply chain allowed the maintenance of the second front against the Nazis in North Africa; by contrast, the successful U.
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In a tactical scale, in the Battle of Ilomantsi , the Soviets had an overwhelming numerical superiority in guns and men, but managed to fire only 10, shells against the Finnish 36, shells, eventually being forced to abandon their heavy equipment and flee the battlefield, resulting in a Finnish victory. One reason for this was the successful Finnish harassment of Soviet supply lines. More generally, protecting one's own supply lines and attacking those of an enemy is a fundamental military strategy; an example of this as a purely logistical campaign for the military means of implementing strategic policy was the Berlin Airlift.
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Military logistics has pioneered a number of techniques that have since become widely deployed in the commercial world. Operations research grew out of WWII military logistics efforts. Likewise, military logistics borrows from methods first introduced to the commercial world.
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The Kargil Conflict in between India and Pakistan also referred to as Operation Vijay Victory in Hindi is one of the most recent examples of high altitude warfare in mountainous terrain that posed significant logistical problems for the combating sides. Geographic distance is a key factor in military affairs. The shorter the distance, the greater the ease with which force can be brought to bear upon an opponent. This is because it is easier to undertake the supply of logistics to a force on the ground as well as engage in bombardment.
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The importance of distance is demonstrated by the Loss of Strength Gradient devised by Kenneth Boulding. This shows the advantage of supply that is forward based. The United States Military logistics support is grouped into 10 classes of supply: .
Supply chain management in military logistics often deals with a number of variables in predicting cost, deterioration, consumption, and future demand. The US Military's categorical supply classification was developed in such a way that categories of supply with similar consumption variables are grouped together for planning purposes. For instance peacetime consumption of ammunition and fuel will be considerably less than wartime consumption of these items, whereas other classes of supply such as subsistence and clothing have a relatively consistent consumption rate regardless of war or peace.
Troops will always require uniform and food. More troops will require equally more uniforms and food. In the table above, each class of supply has a consumer. Some classes of supply have a linear demand relationship—as more troops are added more supply items are needed—as more equipment is used more fuel and ammo is consumed. Other classes of supply must consider a third variable besides usage and quantity: time.
As equipment ages more and more repair parts are needed over time, even when usage and quantity stays consistent. By recording and analyzing these trends over time and applying to future scenarios, the US military can accurately supply troops with the items necessary at the precise moment they are needed. Lack thereof can lead to a clunky, slow, and ill-equipped force with too much or too little supply.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Military supply and maintenance.
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