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First Things, First: Grant, Logistics, and Setting Conditions

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Technical Report

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U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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The publication of Field Manual 3-0, Operations and the associated transition to large-scale combat operations LSCO requires a greater emphasis on responsive operational level logistics than an army optimized for limited contingency and counterinsurgency operations. Although the demands of expeditionary distribution operations may be unfamiliar to many contemporary sustainment leaders, they are not new in the annuls of war. The American Civil War 1861-1865 remains worthy of study for contemporary military professionals. Arguably the first fully industrialized war, the Civil War reached a scale, intensity, and duration that observers did not initially anticipate. Ulysses S. Grants western campaigns to open the Mississippi River 1862-1863 demonstrate that he was an operational artist that understood the value of logistics to enable his vision. Grant not only grasped the existential nature of supply, but he saw holistic logistics activities as vital operations rather than administrative entanglements. Through his use of basing and decisive points, he was able to extend his operational reach, prevent culmination, dictate the tempo of operations, and manage risk. This monograph examines how Grant harnessed logistics to enable his maneuver and, as a corollary, how he utilized maneuver to extend his operational reach throughout the campaign for the Mississippi River of 1862-1863. This case study thus provides a historical example of how operational logistics enables theater armies in LSCO, which may be relevant for contemporary commanders.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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