Thursday, June 6, 2024

Remember The Ever Given Stuck In The Canal And Covid and How Everyone Became An Expert On Logistics?

Lots of folks had that quote from Napoleon close to hand:  

“Les amateurs discutent tactique:
Les professionnels discutent logistique.”

The amateurs discuss tactics: the professionals discuss logistics.

We didn't have the quote but we did have some of the assumed level of mastery that many observers, commentators, drive-bys and poseurs were flaunting.

And then there's this guy. 

Here's the introduction to an unpublished post about the U.S. Army Generals allowing their troops to be run out of  Afghanistan in August 2021:

Let's get one thing clear: This is not a Dunkirk Situation.

In May 1940 Britain had Admiral Bertram Ramsay, a bona fide genius in command of the evacuations off the beaches. And he pulled off what from the outside looked like a miracle.

He was already retired when Churchill asked him to return to the Navy, possibly Winston's most accurate personnel judgement.

The U.S. has no one even remotely like him.

And just to prove 1940 was no fluke the Admiral was commander in chief of the naval portion of the invasion of Europe in June 1944.

From the all-knowing one, Wikipedia:

Naval Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force for the invasion.[4]

In this, he executed what has been described by historian Correlli Barnett as a "never surpassed masterpiece of planning"[11] — coordinating and commanding a fleet of almost 7,000 vessels to delivering over 160,000 men onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day alone, with over 875,000 disembarked by the end of June....

Got that? In 1939 Churchill personally asked Ramsay to come out of retirement.

In 1940 Ramsay was asked to save 338,000 British and French troops from certain death or capture. 

"Oh, and you get nine days to finalize your tentative plan and execute it. While under constant attacks from the Luftwaffe blowing up your rescue ships and boats. With no docks, those having been destroyed by said Luftwaffe."

No pressure.

In some ways what Ramsay did four years later must have seemed like a nice day at the park.

In 2017 The Scotsman newspaper put it this way: "Forgotten Scottish admiral who saved Britain at Dunkirk"

In 2021 the Royal Navy marked the anniversary of the Admiral's death with some amazing words: "Seventy-six years since the navy lost its architect of salvation and victory"

And then D-Day. Both Churchill and Eisenhower wanted Ramsay to command the naval and amphibious assault phase of the invasion: Operation Neptune.

From the U.S. Naval Institute, June 2009:

The Planners' Daunting Task
How best to transport, land, support, and supply the troops that would invade Normandy on D-Day? Finding all the answers took Royal Navy and U.S. Navy commanders years and resulted in one of the most complex naval plans ever written.


....At Churchill's insistence, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay was appointed Allied Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force (ANCXF)—overall naval commander of Operation Neptune—in July 1943. A consummate planner and a stickler for detail, Ramsay was involved in the preparations for almost every Royal Navy amphibious operation from Dunkirk to Sicily. His top subordinates would be the commanders of the Eastern Naval Task Force (ENTF), Royal Navy Rear Admiral Philip Vian, and the Western Naval Task Force (WNTF), U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk. Their commands, in turn, would comprise five assault forces corresponding to the invasion beaches in Normandy.5

Despite the presence of subordinate staffs for each force, the ANCXF staff did the bulk of the naval planning at its headquarters in London. A good amount of preliminary work had been undertaken, but a number of unanswered naval operational questions remained. For example, how were the Allies to deal with the many mines the Germans had planted in the English Channel and the significant threat from the enemy's U-boats and E-boats (fast torpedo boats)? What steps were needed to protect the naval task forces from Luftwaffe attacks, and what would be the U.S and Royal navies' role in reducing German coastal defenses with gunfire? Finally, what time of day should be selected for H-hour—the precise moment of the initial landings?

Anvil and the Landing Craft Debate

One of the first challenges confronting the naval planners was determining the amount of lift, or amphibious shipping, needed to carry Allied ground forces to the shores of France. The Royal Navy calculated it could support the Overlord Outline Plan's three-division assault and two-division follow-up with the existing number of landing ships, landing craft, escorts, and other naval assets then in England. On 2 January 1944 General Bernard Law Montgomery, the hero of El Alamein and leader of the British Eighth Army in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, arrived in Britain as the commanding general, 21st Army Group and overall commander of Operation Neptune's ground forces. "Monty" quickly announced to Ramsay as well as SHAEF that the frontage of the invasion needed to be doubled to 50 miles and the size of the initial landing force increased to five assault divisions with two to follow up. This expanded Neptune's lift requirements markedly.6....


So the thought that comes to my mind is: How do you queue 7000 boats and ships at the gas station?

Yeah, truth be told I don't know jack about logistics. And neither do any of the keyboard warriors of a few years ago.