The Bow Ramp

Thursday, September 01, 2005

As they say, "Professionals study logistics"

Jason over at Countercolumn has some good scoop about why you can't just get on the telephone and order up troops like you would a Big Mac with fries.

How do you get the personnel and supplies to where you need them in an emergency? This is especially difficult when there has been major disruption to the local infrastructure. Obviously, you can overcome a lot of problems by throwing lots of money into the solution. In Jason's example, an infantry battalion can only self-transport a company at a time (at best.) You could assign them more transportation, but it doesn't stop there. You would have to expand the support that the additional vehicles would require, which in turn requires more transportation, and so on. All of this would add up to a tremendous amount of money very quickly.

In the specific case of hurricane relief, most of the damage is usually located near the shore. This presents a possible solution. For many years now, the Military has maintained pre-positioned logistics overseas on specially configured ships. A similar system configured for disaster relief could be set up. These ships could be placed on alert when a hurricane is forecast to strike and could follow in the storm's path and be on station in just hours. Coupled with the Navy's amphibious ships, we could get a lot of people and supplies on station rapidly. Mind you, this would cost a bundle, and would also adversely effect the readiness of the Navy and Marines if they were called out too frequently. That is where the President, et al earn their pay. Considering how the various agencies were making dire forecasts about the damage that Katrina would cause, it might have been pruedent for the Navy and Marines to have deployed from the East Coast before the storm struck rather than after. It is ironic that the USS Bataan was close enough to respond quickly, but did not have the Marines and their equipment aboard. This has greatly reduced the Bataan's effectiveness.

Of course, this possible partial solution to disaster relief wouldn't be much good for responding to say an earthquake on the New Madrid fault, but it's worth thinking about.