Rethinking the Logistics Challenge after Looking at Ukraine from the German Point of View
are you paying attention yet?
Unloved logistics ... when you ignore her, she will let you stew until you need her, and then she will let you panic in flop-sweat.
The Cult of Efficiency ... it make you feel smart at peace - but at war she will put you at strategic risk and deal you the unnecessary death of untold number of your people.
As war comes again at scale in Europe, you have to hope that for our friends, the good people in hard jobs are quick learners and are in institutions/nations that are equally able to adjust.
Germany is the key for continental NATO. Geographically, economically, and demographically - you cannot avoid that fact. While the political will and the money that follows it are an open question, what about the German military?
There is reason for confidence there at least. Take some time to see this interview via the Bundeswehr's YouTube Channel by Kapitänleutnant Nana Ehlers, German Navy, with Luftwaffe Lieutenant General Martin Schelleis, Inspector of the Armed Forces Base (Inspekteur der Streitkräftebasis).
Watch the whole thing, but to save you time I've started the video below at the meat of the logistics discussion at the 9:23 mark.
This snippet left me impressed as in under two months of war you have such a senior officer take the correct lessons - as learning institutions do. He points out well meaning but wrong decisions made in the past influenced by the Cult of Efficiency that did not survive contact with reality, and then proposes a correct return to sound and established practices.
"The current structure of the Bundeswehr, as it is currently structured in the capabilities, in the structures, is actually based on a different picture of war, not on national defense and alliance defense, but on international crisis management, as we say today, "out of area" operations. That's why we reduced our own forces in strategic transport, including tactical transport, because we assumed we could definitely do it (transport and logistics) with cheaper civilian service providers. Well, with the refocusing on national defense, we have a different picture, so we have to insource some of what we outsourced for reasons of secured availability in case of need..."
Imagine if we could do this with regards to known deficiencies in our "unsexy" but important support, maintenance, logistics ships, and facilities we know will be needed in any war in the western Pacific ... but still refuse to take steps to address the requirement now before war comes. You can add in tugs, salvage, tenders, auxiliaries ... etc.
Note: this interview is in German. If your German is not up to where it should be, just click the settings part of the video in YouTube, then subtitle/cc, then autotranslate, then English, and that will work for you just fine.
A final note, if you don't subscribe to the Bundeswehr's YouTube channel, you need to now. Especially with autotranslate, there's no excuse. Simply outstanding stuff here.
Instead of the, to be frank, fried air and totally ignorable content we find a the US Navy channel, imagine if we had the institutional confidence to do what the Germans do here? Yes it is controlled, but the questions are serious ... and are JOs asking GOFO.
NB: if you are hoping the US Navy has as much of a smart social media presence as the Germany Army ... well, as I pointed out last night on twitter, don't get your hopes up.