Logistic lessons from the War in Ukraine

Logistic lessons from the War in Ukraine

What Logistic Lessons can strategists in general and military logisticians in particular learn from the war in Ukraine?

Lesson 1: Don't improvise, plan!

Improvisation is not an alternative to planning. Seizing specific tactical opportunities is only possible if the generic sustainment options and – stocks have been well thought through, are available and provided by agile and flexible support personnel.

Logistic truck

Lesson 2: Mass is cash

Not so catchy translation from the Dutch “Massa is Kassa”. Quantity is also a quality is probably better. Ask you most pessimistic logistician how many stocks he thinks you need for an intense conventional fight against a near-peer, and then triple those.

Lesson 3: Command ≠ Control

The idea that you as an operator are best off having all the logistics under your own command is a misconception. You carry around a lot of stuff you don’t need and when you’re really in a tight spot, the supplies you need turn out to be with a neighbor. Operations research was invented in the military for a reason. Central control and distribution ensures a higher level of service and availability.

Lesson 4: Connect (or die)

C2 and connectivity are (still) essential. Means need to be more 21st century. Besides smartphones with “ueber” like apps to request firesupport, we also need “Ueber eats” apps to request logistics.

Lesson 5: Cooperate!

To raise a child, you need a whole village, To win a war, you need a whole country. A defense industry isn’t enough, you need a war industry.


Lesson 6; Logistics is a team sport

The military cannot do it alone. In the first world war, there were 3 civilian contractors in the supply chain for every soldier at the front. Today, that ratio is certainly not lower.

Lesson 7: relationships are essential

Long term relationships between military and industry are essential. True commitment cannot be expected from companies that have to earn back their investments 2 years. A good marriage only lasts if both parties are willing to give and take. And JIT is SHIT; in the military it’s not just in time, but just in case.

Lesson 8: from sand to glass

The military supply chain starts at the Iron Mine. Rare minerals are named rare for a reason. Microchips are the new gold.

Lesson 9: Every rifleman a loggie

Every loggie a rifleman? Deal. Every rifleman a loggie? Let’s quote Gen. Robert H. Barrow once again: “Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” A little more logistical training for tacticians won’t hurt.

Lesson 10: Dispersion is key

All static and / or large logistic installations vulnerable. Dispersion is key (as mentioned in FM4.0), but teaming up users with dispersed supplie(r)s poses special challenges. You don’t want to be that squirrel who can’t remember where to find his hidden nuts.

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