Senior logisticians, logistics troops, and logistics organizations are uniquely skilled and configured to execute peacekeeping operations that require little or no combat force.
The U.S. peacekeeping strategy developed during the cold war era is obsolete in today's environment. The precepts that once guided the use of U.S. military force are no longer valid. The military has expanded its warfighting doctrinal focus to include solving social, environmental, and political problems that occur during peacetime.
Faced with smaller budgets and fewer troops, the Army is continually restructuring itself to execute its part of the national strategy. The purpose of the restructuring is to allow some of the resources formerly spent on maintaining military force to be diverted to such nontraditional missions as support to observers and diplomats, security assistance, humani-tarian aid, drug enforcement, disaster relief, and medical assistance.
The U.S. military has participated in peace operations since the opening of the American West, when soldiers escorted wagon trains, protected settlements, and eventually negotiated peace with local Indian tribes. Later, the military was instrumental in the pacification of Vera Cruz, Mexico, the explulsion of Spanish forces from Cuba, and the pacification and administration of Hispaniola (now known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
The military becomes involved in peace operations whenever civilian authority becomes overwhelmed and requires massive help. Examples include disaster relief on the island of Guam following Hurricane Iniki and in Florida after Hurricane Andrew; resettlement of the Kurds in Northern Iraq during post-Gulf War hostilities; and temporary housing and quarantine of Haitian emigrants in Honduras and Cuba.
The drawdown of U.S. forces and the attendant reduction in the military budget make it obvious to even a casual observer that deploying combat arms troops to assist in peace operations may not be the best use of these soldiers. A full year is required to train combat arms soldiers. Their leaders must train with them to perfect performance of doctrinal requirements and adequately prepare for combat. When combat arms soldiers are deployed on peace operations, they are unavailable to train for combat situations.
Logistics organizations in the U.S. military have the resident expertise to accomplish peacekeeping operations more efficiently than combat troops. These organizations are flexible and contain modular units that can be reconfigured easily to support any mission. Embedded in these organizations are medical, distribution, supply, and communications assets, all of which are essential in the execution of peace operations.
I summarize the peacekeeping functions logistics troops can perform in four broad categories-
Acquisition: Local international purchasing and disposition support such as feeding, laundry, and mortuary affairs.
Distribution: Moving people and materiel and regulating traffic flow.
Repair: Limited infrastructure repair and repair and return of systems to users.
Soldier support: All activities necessary to sustain soldiers.
Logistics organizations are largely self-sufficient and have their own command and control elements. They are configured to support combat elements at each echelon. A brigade has as its support base a forward support battalion. The forward support battalion has supply, maintenance, and medical companies. The division is supported by a main support battalion made up of medical, maintenance, supply, and transportation assets. Finally, at the corps level, there are support groups, a medical brigade, and management centers.
Logistics organizations link the national economic base to the operationally deployed logistics units. Among these organizations are the Defense Logistics Agency, the U.S. Transportation Command, and the materiel commands of the services. They perform requirements determination, acquisition, stockpiling, pre-positioning of materiel, and strategic mobility.
U.S. military logistics personnel know the capabilities of their people and have the equipment to provide initial support to people in need. They are accustomed to integrating the efforts of civilian contractors into those of the military to accomplish many tasks. Perhaps most important of all, they are adept at assessing situations, forecasting require-ments, and improvising solutions to solve logistics problems.
Senior logisticians, logistics troops, and their organizations are uniquely skilled and configured to execute peacekeeping operations that require little or no military force. During peacetime, logistics troops execute operations similar to those they perform in war. They communicate information to Government officials, locate and distribute materiel, repair equip-ment, build roads, and provide medical assistance.
Logistics teams perform specialized functions when assisting civilian authorities. Specialized troops perform critical and timely initial damage assessment of the infrastructure and determine whether distribution and storage facilities are in good repair. They inspect seaports, airports, roads, and utilities for damage. Advance teams of leaders, engineers, and logisticians deploy to make initial assessments and to establish communications. They assess immediate problems, determine required assets, and communicate that information to the deploying headquarters.
Military medical units are uniquely trained to perform medical procedures in austere environments. They assist in triage, treatment, and evacuation of sick and wounded personnel; dispense preventive care; establish feeding facilities; and survey hygienic needs of the affected people and areas.
In areas where there are no local civilian police, military police assist in crowd control and local security and provide aid to displaced persons and refugees.
Transportation assets in logistics units are con-figured to move materiel and food to remote parts of an affected area. Materiel management centers resident in logistics organizations schedule movement of materiel. In the event that relief agencies such as the United Nations Humanitarian Relief Council require help from the military, logistics organizations step in to coordinate their relief efforts, provide damage assessments, organize materiel distribution, and track relief supplies, sometimes using computer technology. Because logisticians are accustomed to working closely with civilian contractors to integrate civilian efforts into military operations, they are able to effect similar arrangements to accomplish peace-time operations.
Leadership is the key to any successful operation. Senior logisticians have the experience, knowledge, and leadership skills required to supervise peace operations. They understand the capabilities and constraints of military equipment and can success-fully provide logistics support to large organizations in austere environments. The skills which they use to direct medical, resupply, repair, and security operations in war enable them to successfully establish and secure forward logistics bases in more hospitable environments.
Dag Hammarskjold, United Nations Secretary General from 1953 to 1961, once said "Peacekeeping is not a soldier's job, but only a soldier can do it." I believe the soldiers do not have to be combat soldiers to execute peace operations. U.S. military logistics personnel possess the experience and all the skills necessary to successfully accomplish peacekeeping operations. ALOG
Lieutenant Colonel Calvin Pilgrim is an Ordnance Corps officer currently serving as Chief of the Command, Control, Computers, Communi-cations, Intelligence, and Electronic Warfare Branch, Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C. He has held duty positions in the artillery, chemical, logistics, and nuclear communities. Colonel Pilgrim is a graduate of the Army Logistics Management College's Logistics Executive Development Course and the Army Command and General Staff College. He is a linguist and holds B.S. and M.S. degrees.