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Global logistics and strategy: 1940-1943 by…
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard M. Leightonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coakley, Robert W.Joint Author.main authorall editionsconfirmed
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... to Those Who Served
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Logistics is an ancient word and a still more ancient thing.1 Like many ancient words, it has meant different things at different times, and the thing itself has been, and still is, often called by other names. Yet the several current usages of the word, in military vocabulary, seem to be of rather recent vintage, probably no earlier
than 1838 when Antoine Henri Jomini erected a theory of the art of war upon the trinity—strategy, grand tactics, and logistics. While the word had been used occasionally in military parlance before that time, it apparently had had no single or very specific meaning. Since then its uses have been varied, and for long periods it has fallen into almost complete disuse. Meanwhile, the thing itself (whether we define the word narrowly or broadly) has grown from the comparatively humdrum, routine activity it once was into a very complex "Big Business," embracing a considerable part, some would say the greater part, of all the business of modern war.
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The present volume, and its successor, depict a massive achievement: the performance by the Army of the task of effecting the orderly assembly, movement, and delivery of great masses of men and matériel throughout the world to meet not only American requirements but also those of the other nations fighting the Axis. The authors show how the demands of this task affected American strategy and how it reacted on the shape and mission of the Army. These volumes present the outlook of the War Department as a whole on this task, rather than that of any one agency or command of the Army. Two other volumes in the same subseries will deal with the Army's procurement of munitions and supplies from that standpoint. The rest of the logistical story will be told in volumes on the Army Service Forces, the seven technical services, and the theaters of operations. Logistical tasks account in large measure for the enormous administrative machinery that the Army developed in the course of the war. Its development, though not a complete surprise, exceeded all anticipations. The demand for service troops seemed insatiable and required repeated revisions of the troop basis. With this went a "proliferation of overhead" in the form of complex controls and higher headquarters that ate up officers needed for the training and leading of fighting troops, drew into the service a multitude of specialists, and confused the chain of command. The trend ran counter to the traditional American belief that the overriding mission of the Army is to fight, a conviction so deep that some commanders, like General McNair, fought to keep the Army lean and simple. In World War II they lost this fight. Those who fear that administration is supplanting combat as the primary mission of the Army will find much to ponder in this book and its companion volumes.
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