Logistics: The Mighty Mover Of Mountains Of Material


July 4, 2013: The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest user of logistical (moving supplies) services on the planet. Last year, for example, the Department of Defense used 84,906 flights to move 1.9 million passengers and 598,000 tons of cargo. Aerial refueling required 20,870 sorties by aerial tankers, which transferred 573,000 tons of fuel to 83,169 aircraft and helicopters.

Using sea transport, 568,000 cubic meters of cargo was moved. There were also 37,712 pallets of munitions and 46 million barrels of fuel moved by sea. Civilian contractors moved half the air cargo and 67 percent of the sea cargo. For Afghanistan the seaborne cargo had to be trucked into Afghanistan, either via Pakistan or Russian and Central Asian railroads, which carried goods a few kilometers inside Afghanistan, and then by truck to large bases or depots that moved to hundreds of smaller bases via airlift or smaller, well-guarded convoys.

The United States has been the largest user of long-range military logistics since World War II, when it pioneered many of the logistical practices long-since adopted as standard. These logistics capabilities are so unparalleled that American allies habitually call on the U.S. for logistic assistance (or at least expert advice) during joint operations.





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