The word "logistics" did not come into common usage in the English language until comparatively recent times, although it was employed in French and German military parlance long before it was used in English. In 1888, Alfred T. Mahan used the term in his address on "The Object of the United States Naval War College" but with a meaning much more limited than its later connotations. He said:Here's good read on WWII logistics, Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil: The Story of Fleet Logistics Afloat in the Pacific During World War II by Rear Adm. Worrall Reed Carter
"Between strategy and grand tactics comes logically logistics. Strategy decides where to act; logistics is the art of moving armies; it brings the troops to the point of action and controls questions of supply; grand tactics decides the methods of giving battle. There are obvious differences of condition between armies and fleets that must modify the scope of the word logistics, which it yet may be convention to retain."
The use of the single word "logistics," to denote the very broad field of planning and implementation necessary to give effect to the strategy and tactics of naval warfare, seems first to have been accorded formal recognition by the Naval War College in a lecture by Commander C.T. Vogelgesang, U.S.N. during its 1911 Summer Conference.
In its broadest sense "logistics" signifies the total process by which a nation's resources in men and materials are mobilized and employed to achieve military ends. Logistics ha been officially defined as:
"Design and development, acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation and disposition of matériel; induction, classification, training, assignment, separation, movement, evacuation and welfare of personnel; acquisition or construction, maintenance, operation, and disposition of facilities; and acquisition or furnishing of services. It comprises both planning (including determination of requirements) and implementation."
A simpler and in some respects a more satisfactory definition is the one given by Major Cyrus Thorpe, USMC, in his booklet, Pure Logistics, "Strategy and tactics provide the scheme for the conduct of military operation; logistics provides the means therefor."
Elements of Logistics
Logistics tasks, whether concerned with men materials, or services, have certain elements that are common to all. These are the planning and determining of requirements, procurement of matériel, and finally the distribution of men and things to the combat areas and Operating Forces. The elements of requirement, determination and distribution (the what, when, and where of logistics) may be viewed as the consumer segment of logistics; procurement n the other hand as the producer segment, sharp line of demarcation between the two elements cannot, however, be drawn, as they are interdependent, and must be closely integrated if logistic tasks are to be carried out efficiently and economically. Consumer logistics is essentially a command prerogative and responsibility; producer logistics a staff function The latter is concerned principally with the procurement aspects of logistics.
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The key, however, is to remember that no fleet or force can sustain operations without a sound logistics plan and the assets to carry out that logistics plan.
When ships changed from coal to oil fuel, some far-sighted officers developed practical methods to refuel ships while underway. The following document is a joint U.S. Maritime Administration and Historic American Engineering Record effort to document that remarkable achievement - one that Admiral Nimitz called "The Navy's Secret Weapon."