"Difficult" logistics

The German minister of defence has talked a bit about the coming withdrawal from Afghanistan and among other things he mentioned that it's going to be a complicated logistics effort. The planning is apparently to be completed around September. We have less than 5,000 men personnel in Afghanistan.

I was irritated by the actual press reports; much of the press uses the word "difficult" instead of "complicated"*, and that's something entirely different. The threshold for a "difficult" logistic movement should really be much, much higher. Sure, Afghanistan is far away, but that's not that much of a problem if there aren't many stops during the transport. The planning for a short flight isn't much less troublesome than for a long flight, and moving goods through East Europe and Central Asia on rail is something we should know really well by now.

Moreover, I'm heavily burdened by knowing something about military history, and ACTUAL "difficult" logistics challenges.

This one example gives an idea:

25 March 1941 Yugoslavia joins Axis,
intends to help Italy against Greece

27 March 1941 pro-British Coup d'état in Yugoslavia
same day: Hitler orders invasion of Yugoslavia

6 April 1941: Axis (multinational!) invasion of Yugoslavia AND Greece
38 German divisions and dozens of other axis divisions were involved

17 April: Yugoslavia defeated, remnants of the Yugoslav forces are scattered

So basically during the age of typewriters, lack of phones in most offices, minimal bandwidth communications and no computers an entire invasion of a country (quarter of a million square kilometres!) was prepared for in ten days and successfully executed in eleven days.

THAT was a "difficult" logistic challenge.

That was, by the way, the kind of performance required to wage large-scale mobile warfare in the East; epic logistical challenges AND capable opponents had to be mastered in parallel. As history books tell us, this didn't go well for more than a few months, but that''s another story.

*: This is probably the result of a sloppy choice of words by a AP (a major news agency) writer.


  1. I sometimes get the impression that some of the media just repeats what another source says.

    I wish the people in charge of the military would just at random send orders to brigades to move from where they are at to some point to test how well they can do it and improve as needed.


  2. Well, most press reports are original or slightly modified texts by a handful news agencies, not actual products of the newspapers or TV stations. That's why I hinted at AP at the end.

    Regarding march exercises; if I was minister of defence, I would call some colleagues, then appear at a weekend night at army HQ, tell the guard officer to activate the alarm chain, have everyone stand in formation on the drill place and order them to move at least two brigades with one week worth of ammunition to a distant place, followed by all other field army forces within the first month.

    I guess they would fail spectacularly - the first time. By the end of the legislative four year period they would either be capable of such things or be retired.

  3. How's the book going?


  4. To much work and distraction these days, but I have a good planned window of free time soon. About 40 pages so far.

  5. I sometimes wonder if AP put out a bulletin announcing that the Soviet Union had just invaded Czechoslovakia, how many newspapers would just print it as news.