Logistics: March 2, 2003


One of the major reforms in the U.S. Army after the 1991 Gulf War was the overhaul of the logistics (getting supplies to the troops) system. During the 1991 war, it was painfully revealed how slow and inefficient the army supply system was. Not so much when it came to getting a division onto ships and moved to the Persian Gulf, but more in area of getting spare parts to units that needed them. This sort of thing tends to get overlooked in peacetime, when you can just let a truck or tank sit there broken for a month, which happened to be the average amount of time it took to get parts from army supply depots or civilian suppliers. In peacetime, you could always shuffle some paperwork to make things look a little better, and that was preferable to attempting any reforms with the logistics bureaucracy. The 1991 experience gave reformers an opportunity and through the 1990s the army adopted many more efficient techniques long used in the commercial sector. Ordering and shipping procedures were streamlined and the entire process was not only speeded up, but now costs less. Shipping time for spare parts was cut by two thirds. By the end of the decade, spare parts were getting to units over seas faster than they were getting to units in the United States just two years earlier. The real test will come as large ground forces assemble in the Persian Gulf for war with Iraq. It's one thing to speed up resupply for units in their home bases. Getting this stuff to troops in the field on a timely basis is what really counts in the end. 


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