Evolution of logistics and transportation
"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
- Tom Peters
“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics..."
- Sun Tzu
"My logisticians are a humourless lot ... they know if my campaign
fails, they are the first ones I will slay."
- Alexander the Great
The above quotations exactly give an insight knowledge to military
logistics. Logistics are the centre point of winning battles.
Therefore, employment of knowledgeable and experienced logisticians
are vital to wage wars, in other way this core competency should be
embedded in the soldiers at all levels. The fighting of arms has no
bearing in logistic but logistic battle is a soldier's individual skill
which decides winning.
Evolution of logistics
Evolution of logistics has gone back to the days of Alexander the
Great, King Ashoka and to the eras of Julius and Augustus Caesar.
Basically, logistics started with military campaigns. There were many
phrases given by prominent military strategists about the logistical
importance of battles.
There was a famous saying that "all the historic battles were won by
logisticians". That particular phrase shows the importance of logistics
in military. Subsequently, this word and concept moved towards the
civilian administrative/management systems at the end of the 70s.
The particular word basically used for administration in the maritime
sector. Further, it moved through to land transportation and air
transportation. Now the word ‘logistics’ is more prominent with the
three dimensional transportation system with the introduction of
The military has different ways of logistics, specially, talks about
forward logistics and backward logistics. Forward logistics considers as
movement of consignments to the theatres and the backward is from the
theatre to the rear areas of battle. This system works as a cycle.
There are many subjects taught in the army in terms of two segments,
i.e. peace time logistics and theatre logistics. In Sri Lanka, these two
words are used in peace time administration and administration in the
field and the procedures for both are extremely different. The most
important factor is all military logistics has a three dimensional
effect. Because theatre has many restrictions for logistics, mainly due
to enemy interferences. Therefore, the logistics chain is going through
different modes to find the final target/destination.
Hence, the planning of military logistics is quite different from
civillian logistics because enemy threat is one of the important areas
to evaluate the system. Therefore, military logistics comes under the
system of combined warfare which is a combination with Army, Navy and
There are many logistics jobs / employments falling under the purview
of military establishments. In order to conduct these functions,
separate directorates are established under the military organizations.
Some of them are directorate of ordinance, directorate of supply and
transportation, directorate of movement control and the logistics
command. Furthermore, following are some of the functions conducted by
the above directorates and commands.
Purchasing of equipment
Medical/ casualty management etc.
All these functions are been practiced at different levels in
different sectors from sub units upto brigades and divisions. The
Brigade Commander is responsible for movement of troops, movement of
weapons and ammunition, movement of rations, movement of equipment,
management of salaries, inventory and other related areas.
This is a meticulously planned job because the Brigade Commander is
commanding around 3,000 troops, equipment, transportation and weapons
which are needed for battle.
All officers and soldiers move through this system from their
enlistment to retirement at various levels from peace situations to
battle field administration, immaterial of the role of individual
regiments. Also, the three dimensional aspect is the most exclusive part
that is embedded in the system unlike civilian logisticians.
Especially, the conversion knowledge and the current situations of
the present logistic scenario and the new concepts like third party and
fourth party logistic systems should be enhanced in order to get a
better output from the HR.
In conclusion, what is envisaged is that although the core function
of the military is fighting with the enemy, there is a great deal of
logistics needed in order to win the battle and keep the momentum of
Due to that the ratio of military has been segregated from three to
one, i.e. to support three fighting soldiers, one administrative soldier
is appointed in the system. Basically, in international military
language it is "teeth to tail ratio".
Therefore, those in every level in the army are trained in logistics
in different scales, in order to achieve the concept.