FreightWaves Classics: U.S. military logistics help make it the best in the world

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introduction

Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May. It honors the men and women who died while serving in the United States military.

FreightWaves salutes all men and women who have served in the United States military and honors all who have died in the service of our nation.

History / background

The history of military logistics in the modern world does not go back very far. Until the 17th century, most armies lived off the land, taking what they wanted and devastating the rest, a cruel and unnecessary practice.

During the Thirty Years’ War, the Swedish Gustavus Adolphus tried to coordinate supplies in order to eliminate looting and win “the hearts and minds of the people”, but only partially succeeded. Imperial General Wallenstein, his adversary, was able to establish ammunition stores and depots that supplied and dressed the Imperial troops. Imperial transport was provided by contractors, a common practice until the end of the 18th century.

By the end of the 17th century, most standing armies had a cart driver in their military organizations. In 1645, a “Waggon-Master-General” was appointed to the New Model Army in England.

The British Commissioner General was responsible for organizing transport throughout the 18th century. This was the legacy that the new Continental Anny adopted during the War of Independence. A quartermaster general became the chief of supplies and the transport officer of the continental army. However, the 18th century version of the Quartermaster was very different from the current definition, because the Quartermaster was not a Supply Officer; rather, the chief of staff responsible for operational needs.

Where are the men? Where are the provisions? Where are the Cloaths?

– George Washington to Gouverneur Morris,
December 10, 1780
(Photo: US Army Acquisition Support Center)
(Photo: US Army Acquisition Support Center)

In “Spearhead of Logistics,” authors Benjamin King, Richard C. Biggs, and Eric R. Criner wrote: “The US Army Transportation Corps has proven victorious in all battlefields and peacekeeping operations since its inception. creation in 1942. However, the transport of the army began with the birth of the function of quartermaster in the army in 177 6 and continued in this role until the First World War. In each war of the 18th and 19th centuries, a carrier corps was created from whole cloth to meet the army’s transportation needs, and after each conflict it was disbanded. Day-to-day transportation matters were handled by contractors supervised by the Quartermaster Department. During World War I, the responsibility for military transport was consolidated into the hands of a single group of specialists dedicated to the mission of transporting the myriad of demands of a modern army from the manufacturer to the soldier in his foxhole.

Whether it is the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force or US Coast Guard, logistics are essential for the men and women in these branches of services accomplish their myriad missions.

The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans, joined by the Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Parramatta, the FS Tonnerre amphibious assault helicopter carrier and the Ōsumi-class tank landing ship of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force JS Ōsumi, transit together during Exercise Jeanne D'Arc 21 off Kagoshima, Japan, May 14, 2021. (Photo: USMC / Lance Cpl Justin J. Marty)
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans, joined by the Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Parramatta, the FS Tonnerre amphibious assault helicopter carrier and the Ōsumi-class tank landing ship of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force JS Ōsumi, transit together during Exercise Jeanne D’Arc 21 off Kagoshima, Japan, May 14, 2021. (Photo: USMC / Lance Cpl Justin J. Marty)

The American army

The logistics branch for officers of the United States Army was introduced as part of the creation of a logistics corps encompassing the three long-established functional logistics branches: Quartermaster, Ordnance and Transportation. Established January 1, 2008, all officers of the Active National Guard, Reserve and National Guard, Quartermaster and Transport Corps who had completed the Logistics Captains Career Course or earlier versions of an advanced course of logistics officers were transferred to the new branch.

A convoy of US Army vehicles.  (Photo: Association of the United States Army)
A convoy of US Army vehicles. (Photo: Association of the United States Army)

US Navy

The Navy Supply Corps is the United States Navy’s staff corps focused on supply, logistics, combat support, readiness, contracting, and tax matters.

Supply Corps officers are found throughout the Navy and the Department of Defense. Typically, they are assigned to the supply department of an operational command or shore-based activity, or to a supply unit or command, such as Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Groups, Centers Fleet Logistics or Navy Special Warfare Logistics Groups, which support US Navy SEALs.

The official motto of the Supply Corps is “Ready for Sea” – reflecting the Supply Corps’ long-standing role in sustaining war.

US Marine Corps

Marine Corps Logistics Command began in a canvas tent on the grounds of Naval Base Philadelphia that served as the Marine Corps supply depot in 1798.

In 1804, the depot was given a function that would become one of its main tasks for the next 158 ​​years. The Secretary of the Navy designated the depot as a “barracks establishment for the making and mending of clothing” for the Marines.

For the next 100 years, clothing manufacturing was carried out in the barracks aboard the Naval Base and in a building in downtown Philadelphia. The work was contracted out to local tailors and then distributed to local housewives, who made it into uniforms in their own homes.

The Marines load a USMC helicopter.  (Photo: USMC / Sgt. Frans Labranche)
The Marines load a USMC helicopter. (Photo: USMC / Sgt. Frans Labranche)

In 1908, the Marine Corps supply business was established. In 1917-18, he equipped / equipped 36 expeditionary units, including four regiments of 4000 men each for service in Europe.

World War II saw a significant expansion in the capacity and responsibility of the procurement activity. Throughout the conflict, more than 6,000 employees worked around the clock to make uniforms, tents, tent poles, lockers and bunks.

After World War II, the activity supported the Marines in Korea, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic and Vietnam. During this period, the historical clothing manufacturing function of the activity was transferred to an agency of the Ministry of Defense which purchased uniforms for all military services.

In 1952, a facility was established in Albany, Georgia. In 1954, the command was renamed Marine Corps Supply Center Albany, managing supplies to storage / distribution locations in the eastern United States, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

In 1978 the name was changed to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. All of the logistical support functions necessary to support Marine Corps weapon systems and equipment have been carried out here.

In 1999, Marine Corps Materiel Command (MATCOM) headquarters was established in Albany. MATCOM has combined acquisition and sustainment capabilities to provide the most efficient lifecycle management of ground weapon systems materiel. In 2003, MATCOM Headquarters was merged with Base Albany Headquarters to establish Marine Corps Logistics Command.

The Marine Corps Logistics Command carries out its overall mission with a specific objective: “to ensure that Marines at risk have all the logistical support necessary to accomplish their mission.”

(Photo: US Air Force Logistics Readiness)
(Photo: US Air Force Logistics Readiness Facebook page)

US Air Force

Air Force Materiel Command’s legacy dates back to 1917 at McCook Field, an experimental engineering facility in Dayton, Ohio. When the US Air Service was formed in 1918, the organization was named the Engineering Division and included responsibility for the logistics functions of the Air Corps. It was renamed the Air Corps Materiel Division in 1926. The largest branch of the Air Corps, it was responsible for “all research, development, procurement, maintenance, supply, and testing. theft of aircraft and equipment ”.

During World War II, research, development and logistics functions were separated, but were consolidated in the late 1940s under the Air Materiel Command (AMC). The Air Research and Development Command became a separate organization in 1950. The AMC was renamed Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) in 1961; the Air Research and Development Command was given responsibility for the procurement of weapons systems and was renamed Air Force Systems Command (AFSC).

The AFLC and AFSC were merged in 1992 to form Air Force Materiel Command, a single organization with an expanded mission. He combined the expertise of the AFLC in providing global logistical support, including the maintenance, modification and overhaul of weapon systems, and the expertise of the AFSC in science, technology, research, development and testing.

The AFMC controls about a third of the USAF budget. He supports nine host bases and is responsible for Air Force medical and test pilot schools. Approximately 87,000 men and women of the Air Force are assigned to AFMC.

(Photo: USCG Aviation Logistics Center / Facebook)
(Photo: USCG Aviation Logistics Center / Facebook)

US Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard Logistics Branch is responsible for procurement, sustainment, and emergency / surge logistics for the services branch. The development and provisioning of systems / assets throughout the asset lifecycle is the responsibility of Acquisition Logistics. The refinement of supply and maintenance support, fault investigation, technical information support and personnel support (training) are among the responsibilities of sustainment logistics. Emergency logistics meet the requirements of managing natural or man-made emergencies that threaten lives, property, the environment, national security or other national interests.

“Victory is the beautiful, brightly colored flower. Transport is the stem without which it could never have flourished.

– Sir Winston Spencer Churchill



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