By Jasper P Miller
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the definition of military logistics is ”all the activities of armed-force units in roles supporting combat units, including transport, supply, signal communication, medical aid, and the like.” To attach a specific date to the very beginning, ”logistics” is near impossible. As humanity has always needed supplies of one kind or another, often needing to be moved from one destination to another, logistics has been in place. After all, even cave dwellers were logistically operational in some way, shape or form. However, many researchers suggest that the Roman military operations were the first of their kind in the world, where logistics were considered in a ”formal” manor, known then as ”logista” defined more from an administrative perspective as ”skilled in calculating.” From Roman times to modern-day military systems, logistics has played a vital role in military operations around the world.
Roman Military Logistics
The Roman Empire was one of the world’s most powerful. Roman soldiers conquered lands far and wide, partly due to their advanced training and weaponry capabilities but mostly due to their sophisticated logistic operations. The ‘Roman’s logistical systems were one of the crucial reasons behind why their empire was successfully sustained for over one-thousand-years. ‘Romans understood the necessity of adequately supplying their forces with resources that supported both their strategic and tactical needs at home and while in faraway lands. Polybius wrote his thoughts on logistics “…their legions and ordered those of their allies to be in readiness. . . Of grain, missiles and other war materiel, they laid in such a supply as no one could remember had been collected on any previous occasion”.
Modern-day Military Logistics
From construction, transport of troops to medical and health supplies, modern-day military logistics has come a long way since Roman times. John E. Wissler, Lieutenant General, USMC (Ret.) outlined how logistics is an essential part of all modern-day military operations: ““The end for which a soldier is recruited, clothed, armed, and trained, the whole objective of his sleeping, eating, drinking, and marching is simply that he should fight at the right place and the right time.”” In other words, without logistics in place, nothing in the military would happen, from clothing to eating, the military need key supplies. Modern-day military systems are also relying on technology like never before. AI systems, transport and warehouse management systems and robotics all play an essential role in the way the military operates in this day and age.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower stated, “You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.” Military logistics have come a long way since Roman times. However, there are still many similarities that connect our military history to our military present. Troops in Roman times needed food and supplies and still, do. However, the difference between then and now comes in the form of technological development and advancement, streamlining global military systems and operations.