Logistics: December 30, 2004


History is repeating itself again, as the army proposes to create logistics brigades for setting up airfields and ports, on short notice, to receive a flood of American troops and supplies. The U.S. Army was the original pioneer in this area, organizing Engineer Amphibious Brigades in 1942. The purpose of these units was to come in across the beach, right behind the combat units, and start setting up the roads, warehouses, airfields, railroads and truck transportation needed to get supplies off the beach, and to the fighting troops. The army brigades worked very well. Too well. The U.S. Navy had a fit when they discovered the existence of these engineer brigades. A rather unseemly spat followed, with the an eventual compromise. The army was allowed to keep the six, 7,400 man, brigades it had already created, and the navy was allowed to steal the idea and create as many more similar units as were needed for the rest of the war. 

This time around, the army doesnt see any arguments arising. The new Theater Opening Brigades (TOBs) would deal with airfields (which the army still builds for the air force) and port maintenance (which the army still handles.) In 1942, the navy was upset because they had just developed this nifty new amphibious doctrine (and a bunch of new ships and marine units to make it work), and it appeared that the army was poaching. No, this time around, the army is offering to take a job that no one really wants complete responsibility for. For the last half century, the three services would sort of muddle through the establishment of logistics facilities overseas. The army proposes to do it faster, and on shorter notice, with its TOBs. Oh, by the way, the army actually had more ships (albeit smaller and less well armed ones) than the navy, and conducted more amphibious operations than the marines, during World War II. But today, the army has only a handful of ships and transport aircraft. 


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