How to become military literate?

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,807
#11
A general or other leader doesn't have to learn about all that in detail, he simply knows the system works and how to utilize it for his purposes.
Oh here I disagree strenuously. the Devi is in the detail. without a pretty in depth understanding the General simply is not competent to command.

Logitics defines what is operationally feasible. Without a fine appreciation of logistics, that comes from detailed knowledge the commander simply is operated without knowledge of what is operationally possible,


"Bitter experience in war has taught the maxim that the art of war is the art of the logistically feasible."
- ADM Hyman Rickover, USN

"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."
- Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980

"Only a commander who understand logistics can push the military machine to the limits without risking total breakdown."
- Maj.Gen. Julian Thompson, Royal Marines

"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
 
Jul 2016
8,981
USA
#12
Okay, talk about logistics as it applies today to a modem military. Reveal how troops are fed, given ammo, gas and parts for vehicles, etc. How does a bullet made in Lake City reach the magazine of Pvt Smuckatelli's M4 Carbine in Afghanistan. What is the commanders role in it?
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,807
#13
Okay, talk about logistics as it applies today to a modem military. Reveal how troops are fed, given ammo, gas and parts for vehicles, etc. How does a bullet made in Lake City reach the magazine of Pvt Smuckatelli's M4 Carbine in Afghanistan. What is the commanders role in it?
If you don't understand logistics you don't understand operational capabilities.

How fast you can move how many men and support them is determined by logistics.

A good understanding of logistics means you can maneuverer with confidence and understanding both of your own operational capabilities and the enemies capabilities.

Do you need to be across the entire journey of every bullet? no. But logistics will define your operational capabilities how far, how fast, how many. Without a good idea of the answers to these questions you simply not prepared properly.
 
Jan 2015
2,878
MD, USA
#14
No one is even implying that a general does NOT need to know logistics! Of course he has to know how to make his army function and keep it supplied!

But he can do that without knowing the ins and outs of the spreadsheet that I track expenses on, or how to change the bits on a milling machine that turns out bogeys for tanks. It doesn't matter to the general if Form 5306 is used for issuing furniture, transfering equipment between departments, AND as a property pass. (Worst form in the government, trust me...) The general needs to know that there are enough trucks for his division, and who to go to if he needs more. He won't have all the phone numbers memorized, like the specialists and techs at the requisition office do. He won't know how many canteens are shipped on one pallet.

That's all taken care of by the little cogs in the bigger wheels. The general just turns the cranks that are labeled for his specific use. He has to know which way to turn them, eh?

Matthew
 

Fiver

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
3,700
#15
Understanding something is very different from reading something.
Union General Henry Halleck was considered the expert on Jomini. Halleck didn't just read Jomini, he translated Jomini into English and quoted Jomini freely. And Halleck never seemed to understand.

The English translation of On War is quite awful.
Let me select a random text:
We shall not enter into any of the abstruse definitions of war used by publicists. We shall keep to the element of the thing itself, to a duel. War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a war, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance.
I doubt the German is much better. Clausewitz was rude enough to drop dead before he'd finished editing his work.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
#16
Nathan Bedford Forrest (July 13, 1821 – October 29, 1877), distilled it down to, "war means fighting and fighting means killing" and that the way to win was "to get there first with the most men."
 
Likes: Talbot Vilna
Jul 2016
8,981
USA
#17
If you don't understand logistics you don't understand operational capabilities.

How fast you can move how many men and support them is determined by logistics.

A good understanding of logistics means you can maneuverer with confidence and understanding both of your own operational capabilities and the enemies capabilities.

Do you need to be across the entire journey of every bullet? no. But logistics will define your operational capabilities how far, how fast, how many. Without a good idea of the answers to these questions you simply not prepared properly.
Everything you repeated could be learned from reading a one page pamplet and does nothing for anyone to actually learn more than "logistics is important".

Since you've obviously studied logistics and are not an amateur than you know the knitty gritty and can explain how the US Army's logistic system works from top to bottom (like how the soldier gets his bullet) and then compare it to Napoleon's Grand Armee, and Caesar in Gaul.
 
Last edited:
Jul 2016
8,981
USA
#18
No one is even implying that a general does NOT need to know logistics! Of course he has to know how to make his army function and keep it supplied!

But he can do that without knowing the ins and outs of the spreadsheet that I track expenses on, or how to change the bits on a milling machine that turns out bogeys for tanks. It doesn't matter to the general if Form 5306 is used for issuing furniture, transfering equipment between departments, AND as a property pass. (Worst form in the government, trust me...) The general needs to know that there are enough trucks for his division, and who to go to if he needs more. He won't have all the phone numbers memorized, like the specialists and techs at the requisition office do. He won't know how many canteens are shipped on one pallet.

That's all taken care of by the little cogs in the bigger wheels. The general just turns the cranks that are labeled for his specific use. He has to know which way to turn them, eh?

Matthew
I works disagree. An effective leader is bound by the constraints of his organization's bureaucracy, which includes doctrine, mindset, administration, logistics. That person's day to day life is all about dealing with the realities not the abstract.

This is why generals are professionals, because an amateur cam read a manual and know how a pincer movement can be pulled off. But it takes literally decades of working within a specific system to understand its bureaucratic peccadilloes like logistics. Don't know it then it would be like taking Caesar and putting him in charge of ISAF mission in Afghanistan, he would utterly fail because he doesn't know how WE do things.

I mentioned the bullet getting into the hands of a soldier. Any field grade officer in the Army or Marines knows exactly how to do it, the higher the rank the more steps they know (because they're involved in them). But those same highly skilled Army or Marine officers couldn't replicate how to do it from a US Navy fleet, or the office you work for, because they aren't professionals in those organizations. They don't know how it works because they haven't spent their career learning it.

You know how to order supplies from your job. A major executive at McDonalds understands shipping supplies to nation wide franchise, a general knows how to supply his division. Could any of them switch jobs and be successfully? No, not unless they are removed from subject matter expert responsibilities and deal only with policy matters.
 
Jan 2015
2,878
MD, USA
#19
You know how to order supplies from your job. A major executive at McDonalds understands shipping supplies to nation wide franchise, a general knows how to supply his division. Could any of them switch jobs and be successfully? No, not unless they are removed from subject matter expert responsibilities and deal only with policy matters.
THAT's exactly what I was trying to say. A general does not have to have experience working EVERY low-end clerical or technical job in the industry to be proficient in division-level logistics. But he certainly DOES have to know *his* part of the job!

Matthew
 
Oct 2013
6,203
Planet Nine, Oregon
#20
THAT's exactly what I was trying to say. A general does not have to have experience working EVERY low-end clerical or technical job in the industry to be proficient in division-level logistics. But he certainly DOES have to know *his* part of the job!

Matthew
And that is how it would have to be --to be an effective and efficient killing machine, right?