Logistics: January 3, 2003


: The U.S. Army is still trying to cope with logistical shortcomings it encountered during the 1991 Gulf War. In that conflict, the Army had to call up over a hundred thousand reservists to deal with logistical chores. This was according to plan, as the army had, over the previous decade, shifted 75 percent of its logistical personnel to the reserves. This made sense, as in peacetime, most of the logistical troops have little to do. When the army goes off to a foreign battlefield, it falls on the logistical troops to insure that the supplies get there on time, that maintenance and repair facilities are set up and that the needed construction for all this is done as quickly as possible. In 1991, all this was accomplished with the reservists and a lot of civilian contractors. Now the army wants to deal with reality again and, for example, eliminate 60,000 logistical jobs that are not even filled by reservists (civilian contractors are expected to take up the slack here.) The army wants to outsource as much of the logistical work as possible, so that uniformed troops can be assigned to purely military jobs. A lot of the logistical organization dates back to World War II and is due for an update. For example, the current set up has four levels of maintenance and repair: organizational (the user and the using unit), direct support (division and brigade repair shops), general support (more capable repair operations, usually at the corps level) and depot maintenance (back in the United States). By 2006, those four levels would be compressed to two: field maintenance and repair, and national (the old "depot") level. The army currently has $800 million worth of broken equipment, world wide, waiting for repair. It used to be worse. In 1995, the army supply system took 20 days to deliver needed spare parts. Now it takes nine days. But there are still bottlenecks and the army will use more civilian firms to do the repairs, and pay for rapid performance. 


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