Friday, May 15

Book Review: Into the unknown – The Logistics preparation of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

I'm interested in logistics. Very very important part of work and personal life. And this was sparked by a lifelong interest in military history where every good general has always talked about logistics and quartermasters as the key element of success. Here are some great quotes for you to ruminate over.

"Gentlemen, the officer who doesn't know his communications and supply as well as his tactics is totally useless."
- Gen. George S. Patton, USA
"Bitter experience in war has taught the maxim that the art of war is the art of the logistically feasible."
- ADM Hyman Rickover, USN
"Forget logistics, you lose."
- Lt. Gen. Fredrick Franks, USA, 7th Corps Commander, Desert Storm
"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."
- Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980
"I am tempted to make a slightly exaggerated statement: that logistics is all of war-making, except shooting the guns, releasing the bombs, and firing the torpedoes."
- ADM Lynde D. McCormick, USN
"Because of my wartime experience, I am insistent on the point that logistics know-how must be maintained, that logistic is second to nothing in importance in warfare, that logistic training must be widespread and thorough..."
- VADM Robert B. Carney, USN
"Logistic considerations belong not only in the highest echelons of military planning during the process of preparation for war and for specific wartime operations, but may well become the controlling element with relation to timing and successful operation."
- VADM Oscar C. Badger, USN
"… in its relationship to strategy, logistics assumes the character of a dynamic force, without which the strategic conception is simply a paper plan."
- CDR C. Theo Vogelsang, USN
"Logistics is the stuff that if you don't have enough of, the war will not be won as soon as."
- General Nathaniel Green, Quartermaster, American Revolutionary Army
"Strategy and tactics provide the scheme for the conduct of military operations, logistics the means therefore."
- Lt. Col. George C. Thorpe, USMC
"Only a commander who understand logistics can push the military machine to the limits without risking total breakdown."
- Maj.Gen. Julian Thompson, Royal Marines
"There is nothing more common than to find considerations of supply affecting the strategic lines of a campaign and a war."
- Carl von Clausevitz
"In modern time it is a poorly qualified strategist or naval commander who is not equipped by training and experience to evaluate logistic factors or to superintend logistic operations."
- Duncan S. Ballantine, 1947
"The war has been variously termed a war of production and a war of machines. Whatever else it is, so far as the United States is concerned, it is a war of logistics."
- Fleet ADM Ernest J. King, in a 1946 report to the Secretary of the Navy
"A sound logistics plan is the foundation upon which a war operation should be based. If the necessary minimum of logistics support cannot be given to the combatant forces involved, the operation may fail, or at best be only partially successful."
- ADM Raymond A. Spruance
"The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…"
- Sun Tzu
"Leaders win through logistics. Vision, sure. Strategy, yes. But when you go to war, you need to have both toilet paper and bullets at the right place at the right time. In other words, you must win through superior logistics."
- Tom Peters - Rule #3: Leadership Is Confusing As Hell, Fast Company, March 2001
"Logistics sets the campaign's operational limits."
- Joint Pub 1: Joint Warfare of the Armed Forces of the United States
"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."
- Jomini: Precis de l' Art de la Guerre. (1838)
"Behind every great leader there was an even greater logistician."
- M. Cox
"Logistics ... as vital to military success as daily food is to daily work."
- Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, Armaments and Arbitration, 1912
"The essence of flexibility is in the mind of the commander; the substance of flexibility is in logistics."
- RADM Henry Eccles, U.S. Navy
"My logisticians are a humorless lot ... they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay."
- Alexander

I was reminded of this recently when I saw this youtube video.

the US Air Force is moving 9,000 gallons of Jet Fuel into a forward operating base. By the time one gallon has reached the ground in the forward operating base, each gallon is costing $25-35. Figures from here. Did you know, USA was paying Halliburton $45 for each six pack of coke made locally in the Middle East? And a quote: Moral of the story: war is very expensive, especially if you fight one foolishly without clear goals, overwhelming force, measurable results and an exit strategy.

But this book by Donald L Carr on how Lewis and Clark outfitted the expedition is fascinating from the perspective of people who want to win. Expeditions just like businesses depend upon getting the toilet paper and money and men into the right place at the right time in the right quantity. So it was fascinating to see how Jefferson, a hero of mine, drove and drove and drove this expedition to happen. How he managed to act like a sponsor and get the money (he lied through his teeth) and planned and planned and planned. Then the detailed logistics and further planning of it, the innovation, the use of local resources, the quick movements and adjustments. Brilliant idea, anybody who wants to be a good manager, a good change manager, they should read about logistics. Very important. Comes highly recommended. And best of all, this is a free book, you can download it here.

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