Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Logistics controls all campaigns and limits many.” The reality of that statement has been proven time and again over the history of war and warfare. If strategy drives operations, and operations drive tactics, logistics remains the connective tissue holding it all together, from the industrial base at home to the forward line of troops on the battlefield. A military at war cannot win without consuming materiel, be it food, fuel, ammunition, medical supplies, or construction material, and without a robust distribution network comprised of transportation and supply points, it cannot keep the force advancing to achieve victory. From the Conestoga wagons of the French and Indian War, to the cargo trucks and aircraft of the Vietnam War, logistics has played a central role in shaping the outcome of military campaigns. It is in these historical examples, and others between them, that Jobie Turner has compiled a fascinating set of case studies highlighting how innovations in supply, transportation, and distribution—all central tenets of military logistics—and their application on battlefields have led to victory to those who have employed them properly, or to the culmination and defeat to those who have neglected their importance. Turner, an Air Force officer and mobility pilot with a Ph.D. in military strategy, skillfully examines the Lake George Campaign of the pre-Revolution era, the Western Front of World War I, Guadalcanal and Stalingrad in World War II, and the Battle of Khe Sanh in Vietnam, weaving together over five chapters a few central themes that any student of logistics in war or operational planner can and should consider when studying the impact of logistical considerations on achieving a nation’s military objectives.
All of us have experienced cutting a finger at home. Usually, we handle it easily; we can stop the bleeding and somehow treat the wound.