• Saturday, December 14, 2019

A brief view on Combat Logistic Support

Discussion in 'Military History & Tactics' started by jhungary, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. jhungary

    jhungary MILITARY PROFESSIONAL

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    Upon seeing some head-banging idea on Military Logistic on this forum, I felt the need to compel me to write this article to clear out the concept of Battlefield Logistic. So member here can have a basic knowledge on how Military Logistic Works..

    Unfortunately, this is a highly specialised subject and i am not trained for it, I was only trained in basic logistic support as part of my OCS and AIT course, so i can only touch the subject briefly, but i am not going to be able to cover it in deep. So, let's look at how Military Logistic works, shall we?

    Principle of Military Logistic

    When I was over there in Iraq, our base have a very big PX (Post Exchange), PX is like a supermarket back home, where you can find daily necessity for sale in a store like place. Item like toothbrush, Q tips, to belt, to clothing, to playing card, to CDs or Games. It's just like your local Safeway or Whole Food.

    But ever wonder how a toothbrush are being transport from Stateside to Iraq??

    Well, to understand how Military Logistic Works, one need to understand several thing first, for example, the need for combat and the service require for combat. Well, you cant supply what you do not know, so you need to know the necessity in war to be able to learn further

    Basically, there are many discipline with Military Logistic, but today we are going to only focus on Combat Service Support, also known as Combat Sustainment Support

    The principle of Combat Service Support

    Basically, the meaning of Combat Service Support is a network to support and sustain combat operation, IT should not be however, confused with Combat Support Services, which service such as Military Intelligence, Engineering and Military Police Services. Combat Service Support. Combat Service Support defined as essential capabilities, functions, activities, and tasks necessary to sustain all elements of operating forces in theatre at all levels of war. Which based on the Principle of Sustainment

    Principle of Sustainment

    The eight principles of sustainment are essential to maintaining combat power, enabling strategic and operational reach, and providing Army forces with endurance. While these principles are independent, they are also interrelated, according to U.S. Army Doctrine Publication 4-0 the 8 principle are as follows:

    1. Integration is combining all of the elements of sustainment (tasks, functions, systems, processes, organizations) to operations assuring unity of command and effort. Army forces integrate sustainment with joint forces and multinational operations to maximize the complementary and reinforcing effects from each Service and national resources.

    2. Anticipation is the ability to foresee operational requirements and initiate actions that satisfy a response without waiting for an operations order or fragmentary order. Sustainment commanders and staffs visualize future operations, identify required support and start the process of acquiring the sustainment that best supports the operation.

    3. Responsiveness is the ability to react to changing requirements and respond to meet the needs to maintain support. Through responsive sustainment, commanders maintain operational focus and pressure, set the tempo of friendly operations to prevent exhaustion, replace ineffective units, and extend operational reach.

    4. Simplicity relates to processes and procedures to minimize the complexity of sustainment. Clarity of tasks, standardized and interoperable procedures, and clearly defined command relationships contribute to simplicity.

    5. Economy is providing sustainment resources in an efficient manner to enable a commander to employ all assets to achieve the greatest effect possible. It is achieved through efficient management and discipline, prioritizing and allocating resources, and capitalizing on joint interdependencies. It can also be achieved by contracting for support or using host nation resources to reduce or eliminate the use of military resources.

    6. Survivability is all aspects of protecting personnel, weapons, and supplies while simultaneously deceiving the enemy (JP 3-34). Survivability consists of a quality or capability of military forces which permits then to avoid or withstand hostile actions or environmental conditions while retaining the ability to fulfil their primary mission. In mitigating risks and minimizing disruptions to sustainment, commanders often must rely on the use of redundant sustainment capabilities and alternative support plans.

    7. Continuity is the uninterrupted provision of sustainment across all levels of war. It is achieved through a system of integrated and focused networks linking sustainment across the levels of war, other Service support capabilities, and to operations. It assures confidence in sustainment allowing commanders’ freedom of action, operational reach and prolonged endurance.

    8. Improvisation is the ability to adapt sustainment operations to unexpected situations or circumstances affecting a mission. It includes creating, inventing, arranging, or fabricating what is needed from what is available. The sustainment commander must apply operational art to visualize complex operations and understand what is possible at the tactical level. These skills enable commanders to improvise operational and tactical actions when enemy actions unexpected events disrupt sustainment operations.

    Notice that the principle of logistic is also the principle of sustainment.

    To be able to sustain an operation, what basically needed is to keep the troop in operation supply, and there herein lies the logistic management and the hard calculation of what would be enough.

    This, on the other hand, brought the support issue to a whole new question. How much support you need to conduct one forward operation? The answer lies in the Loss of Strength Gradient.

    The Loss of Strength Gradient

    The LSG is an assumption a country's ability to project strength on an forward operation, and the distant between deployment decrease the power projected by any given country to conduct operation, the loss of power is projected thru a positive digression as the distant increase.

    But the projection of the loss of strength discounted the terrain where a land based country attack another land based country would suffer the same loss with either a land base country attacking an island, even tho land route would make supply easier than solely depend on Naval Route.

    But the principle still holds as the aggressor country would have to limit the attacking force for resupply purpose but regardless, if that attacking force in sum is larger than the defending force, the principle stated that the defending country should resort to pursuit the conflict non-violently.

    Case Studies 1 - Operation black bucks.

    Refuelling_plan_black_buck.png

    Operation Black Buck is an United Kingdom's RAF bombing campaign during the Falkland's Conflict. The use of 2 vulcan bombers to bomb target in Falklands from RAF bases in Ascension Islands highlight the Loss of Strength by the RAF.

    In this diagram, it explain the concept of using 11 Victor Air Refueller to provide the 2 Vulcan for the 8 refuelling (7 Inbound 1 Outbound) on the 13000km Round trip. That equate to 15% combat power to 85% support power ratio.

    Indeed, if you were to talk about technological advancement, Say you replace a vulcan to a B-52, its combat range is doubled so your can take off 25% of support force, or with a better tanker, that would increase the efficiency by a margin. However, the ratio or gradient would not change much (2 B-52H would require a pair of KC-10 to refuel, 1 inbound 1 outbound hence the gradient is 50% for the same distance)

    And that number is just a brief calculation, we have also discounted the crew to service the bomber, and the crew to service the tanker too.

    Face Value of Logistic

    First of all, before we begin to even talk about how to manage logistic, we need to talk about how important is logistic support to a running battlefield. Since ancient time, battle have been fought and won(or lost) by logistic management. Even as early as the time where Roman and Hannibal (The term Logistic came from Greek Logistikos) where they would use baggage train and horse wagon to transport and allocate the combat resource.

    To understand the face value of the logistic, one have to understand the face value of the force. Where a country (say country A) can put in a force on paper, (say 300,000 men and 5000 Tanks) that does not translate to they can put/deliver the same force and support them thru battle, assuming it is an offensive battle.

    Factually, you cannot have a 100% fighting force, if you do, then when the soldier expand all that they carry, they cease to exist as a fighting force. At some point, the deployment force have to have some non-combatant to take care of the logistic need

    What we discussed is the Loss of Strength Gradient, so naturally, the further the distant you go, the ratio between fighting force and logistic force would more or less equal (i.e. 50/50) and sometime (in fact, most of the time) or even less (i.e. 40/60)

    Logistic Limitation

    Where everything comes with a limit, logistic is no exception, first relationship is, the longer your supply line is, the longer it take to reach you. Ship's the preferred method

    The second limitation is the continuation. Supply must comes continuously, and there cannot be any interruption. If you cannot supply your troop in a regular basis, then when the supply runs out, they no longer able to fight. This leads to a fairly common doctrine of any army and any war - The Attack/Defence of Supply Line. Hence, supply not only have to ship out from your depot regularly, but you also have to guard it, the longer your supply line is, technically, the larger of force is needed to ensure your soldier in the front line get what it needs.

    The third limitation is one that many people or planner forget, and that is logistic works both ways, you don't just supply your forward deployed troop, but sometime, most of the time, you also need to consider the reverse logistic. Especially when the aggressive party depend on the materiel from the occupation country, and attacking raw resource going back is a lot more effective than attacking incoming force or incoming logistic, since without those materiel going back to the aggressor, they cannot even make war...

    Case Study 2 - WW2 Pacific Campaign

    During WW2, the Imperial Japanese Military rely on Tin, Rubber, Oil and Aluminium to maintain their war effort. The Japanese depended on the Oil in Dutch Indies (Now Indonesia), Rubber and Tin in Malaya and Aluminium and Iron in Manchu.

    The allied thus first cut off the direct supply line of Oil, by directly hack across Philippine. Oil being the most important resource of all, simply without oil, tank don't run, plane don't run and above all, ships don't run, so even if they still occupied Malaya or Manchu, cutting off oil mean even if you still produce Tin, Rubber or Iron, there are no mean for you to transport it back to Japan Home Island.

    With the fall of Philippine, the US deploy a Submarine Blockade, thus limiting the oil supply line to Japan, so by doing this, they do not need to invade Dutch Indies, Malaya and Manchu to effectively take the war economy of Imperial Japan down to next to nothing.

    This show the important of defending your own supply line and in the same context, attack your enemy's supply line. However, the vital information is missing here, as ship and planes leave port/airport every hour and every day, it's impossible to escort each and every ship and plane when they leave port or airport and heading to their destination, and you cannot run the risk either as supply have to be maintain continuously.

    Stockpile vs. Just in Time system.

    During WW2, the convoy system is to battle the need for defending Merchant ship against German Submarine attack, where you stack up a bunch of ship and put them into a convoy formation, thus stacking up supply and then wait for the next batch of ship depart the harbor and move to forward position with its escort.

    This system have been in place for ages, even before WW2, the system runs like your local supermarket and they get dispatches once a week or so, then shelf the item and wait for it to sale, and on a second week, the same truck came in and refill the item, regardless whether or not your item have been all sold, if not, they may sell it a sale price.

    But to do this, you would have accumulate a lot of item at the same time, and there is a risk that if the item have been sold out before the second week, then the rest f the week would have to go without said item.
    Looking at battlefield logistic, where everything have a priority, where as fuel and ammo on top of the list, And leisure item would be quite further down on the list. Now, there is one question you want to ask, if we can classified and prioritize the need of our troop, then we can deliver just enough item to the front and match it with the supply date. in deed, that system is called Just in Time System.

    Classification of Materiel

    Class I
    - Rations - Subsistence (food), gratuitous (free) health and comfort items.
    Class II - Expendables
    Class III - POL - Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL)
    Class IV - Construction materials
    Class V - Ammunition
    Class VI - Personal demand items
    Class VII - Major end items
    Class VIII - Medical material
    Class IX - Repair parts and components
    Class X - Material to support non military programs
    Miscellaneous - Water, salvage, and captured material.

    Once we group the class, then we can manage the delivery for each item category. Say, if this base usually used up 2 load of Class III and 1 load of Class V in any given weeks, you will then order those two item, in the exact quantity and with all the detail of other item, you will save a lot of works, resource and money sorting thru those Resupply.

    In come Performance Base Logistic.

    What it basically does is this, you have a set of rules and guideline to follow for a daily basis, and what you have to do is to take care of the long term performance (Which I explained above) and the need to adjust the system to perform with a acceptable result.

    The concept of performance base logistic is a life cycle of support strategies for weapon system. Use the life cycle to deliver product support as an integrated, affordable performance package designed to optimize system readiness. PBL meets performance goals for a weapon system through a support structure based on long-term performance

    Conclusion

    The success of any given operation does not lies in how many troop you have, or so called paper strength, but it rather depends on how many troop you can put into battlefield, and above all, how many troop you can support.

    The chances the world will see another World War scale conflict is extremely slim, the logistic game for what there is would not be as great as multiple country under general mobilisation. But in fact, we would see a smaller but better supplied force battling rather a larger force that would need to push the logistical skill of one country to the limits.

    And the advent of technological advance could also spell success and failure to any given military operation, but above all, the logistic and supply would still remain as a battleground that win or lose a war for a country, for years to come.

    Thank you for your time and support, I hope to see you all in my next article.
     
  2. jhungary

    jhungary MILITARY PROFESSIONAL

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  3. truthseeker2010

    truthseeker2010 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Sir you are literally a GEM on this forum, i have learned more about military from your posts than anywhere else on the internet, i hope you will continue contributing to this forum.......
     
  4. jhungary

    jhungary MILITARY PROFESSIONAL

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    thanks for your support

     
  5. Sine Nomine

    Sine Nomine ELITE MEMBER

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    @jhungary no doubt a best piece of material for those dealing logistics and learners like me but it will be awesome if you put some light on Bad logistics of Afrika Korps and Japanese invasion of Burma,because after studying some material I concluded the Axis Logistics were torn apart after 1942 as Allied were improving....looking forward sir for your reply.
     
  6. AUSTERLITZ

    AUSTERLITZ SENIOR MEMBER

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    Another absolutely superpost.Learning more with each one.
    You should combine them into a index thread where all of them can be accessed via links at once.
    Mods should sticky it in Land warfare/seniors cafe/military forum section.
     
  7. Slav Defence

    Slav Defence THINK TANK VICE CHAIRMAN: ANALYST

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    [​IMG]

    Wonderful post Mr.Gary,
    Very tempting and interesting! :D
    So,I wanna know more about 'responsiveness'.So,degree of responsiveness is powerful factor which defines an army's tendency to the changing and challenging environment. Bravo!
    Hey,there is a question in my mind. Does army institutions set range of expected changes to improve their degree of responsiveness in logistic support?
    Danke!
     
  8. rockstar08

    rockstar08 BANNED

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    why all military operations are so complicated , cant they be more simple :pissed:

    anyway it was a interesting read :smart:
     
  9. jhungary

    jhungary MILITARY PROFESSIONAL

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    I will come back and quote you on that, it's 2 am here now and I need some time to study the background of both campaign....

    lol I don't know man, maybe, but I think what I know is just so little.....Maybe you hold me a bit too high of a regards.....

    Anyway, I try to share what I know here, so everyone can benefit from what I knew :)

    But still I think they should make a history thread for you first :) dude your post is so detail...If you are in the Military, I would recommend you for War College or something..

    responsiveness is one of the key issue for war fighting. It's very important for a commander to dictate the tempo. So you will not be exhaust yourselves by responding to enemy attack.

    Think of it like a Ping Pong match or A Tennis match, the key to win the game is to try and break serve. Even if you win all your serve, you would still have the same game then your opponent. But if you can hold all your serve and you win one of your opponent serve, then you win the game.

    Fighting a war is not much different. When your opponent is dictating how you fight by trying to control your game, they in effect try to make you react to their move and exhaust you in the process. But what if you don't fight them? Or you choose a time and place that suit you for a fight? Then you dictate the tempo and your opponent would be the one that have to react to your action.

    Now, if you put logistic and supply into consideration, now very obvious that you can't be taking a charge if you are out of or soon running out of supply. So, if you are in a process to react to your opponent move, your solider is all tired and out of supply, then you would have changed nothing. Now, imagine if you save up and left a whole brigade untouched and use them as strategic reserve, that reserve could have push over the enemy and tip the balance in your favour if and when you use them at the right place and at the right time.

    That is the responsiveness you are looking for as a commander, that's why the Russian can win out the battle of Stalingrad and that's why the union win in Gettysburg.

    I don't know if you know what I am talking about or if that answer your question..

    lol, we have a more simpler version of war, that's called computer games :)

    On a more serious note: war are never simple, that's why people think twice before they declare and go to war with other country
     
  10. rockstar08

    rockstar08 BANNED

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    well i guess you are right , but all the process that would have been done quickly before conducting any operation or going for war ..
    Estimating the Damage must also be in consideration before any Operation i guess ...
    damn those Army Thinkers must have a tough job to do :P
     
  11. Levina

    Levina BANNED

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    Oh!
    This article reminds me of Op- Vijay or the famous kargil conflict in 1999. The high altitude warfare in mountainous terrain t posed significant logistical problems for the Indian side. And thats when our stallions proved their reliability and serviceability. :)

    History is full of examples of rulers and conquerors who gave a lot of importance to logistics.
    Alexander was known to have a series of depots and magazines along the route of advance which assured a continued supply.Romans and Mongols were even better. There's something about mongols which I want to write but cant write because its hard to type it down for a vegetarian like me.:bad:
    Then there was Napoleon who counted heavily on swift campaigns, which would end before any logistic weakness could harm him.
    Btw before posting here I searched a bit on the topic and found a pdf file of a book called "Pure logistics: The science of war preparation". I read about first 15-20 pages of that book and I must tell you its too good. I hope I can finish it tonite. :)

    The word just-in-time system reminded me of JIT manufacturing which is successfully adopted by harley-davidson,toyota and dell. These companies dont build/assemble their product until the product is ordered and paid for. Lolzz
     
  12. truthseeker2010

    truthseeker2010 SENIOR MEMBER

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    how much role will a railways play in the combat logistics specially in the pakistani scenario since the distance between the garrisons and front is not much, now i don't know how long is long in military terminology but considering 2 to 300 km should not be considered much.
     
  13. jhungary

    jhungary MILITARY PROFESSIONAL

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    In a short brief, without opening a new threat, the mistake was made during North Africa campaign to not take Gibraltar and Malta. Basically, the shipping lane of the Mediterranean must be kept open so that supply can be ship in from Italy to Tunisia. The blocking point at Malta make sure the channel lane is covered and also the failure to capture of Gibraltar means a possible land supply route from Spain to Morocco is blocked and the bases would have act as a gate to any incoming shipping from the Atlantic, which more importantly, allow the British and Later American submarine to challenge the shipping inside Mediterranean Undisputed. And resulting supply have to route all the way from Italy to Egypt by land route, hence the chronic supply problem the Afrika Korp suffered.

    As far as I can see, Burma campaign is won by number of allied solider, mostly local force facing a smaller number Japanese, in term of logistic, they seems to be well supplied and I do not see any impeachment for the Japanese. The first thing they do is to capture Rangoon, principle seaport of the area. Which at the furthest of their supply line, the Loss of strength ratio give you a significant smaller force than say Kwan Tong Army (500,000 + men) or the Pacific Campaign.

    The Japanese can hold on at the beginning and only falter in the end because the general situation is deteriorating, up to the point where the Allies Naval blockade in the Philippine sea which literally close the tapes on the Japanese in Burma. Then combine with weather and height, make it impossible to supply any force in the campaign area

    railway is important for logistic support anywhere as simply they go faster than Trucks and they carry a lot more than Trucks. A well defined and strategic railway network will provide a lot of assistance to the defender, but one need to keep in mind as you cannot hide railroad, the attacker knows how to hit them, and since they are tracked so not like they can run out of the track and dodge the attacks. It is extremely hazardous if you do not have air support.