Accession Number:



Operation Watchtower: The Battle for Guadalcanal -- A Foundation for Future USAF Expeditionary Aerospace Force (EAF) Logistics Transformation

Descriptive Note:

Research paper

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



An analysis of Operation Watchtower, the battle for Guadalcanal during World War II, provides a valuable template for the U.S. Air Force USAF to use for the transformation of logistics in an expeditionary environment. Using Operation Watchtower as a template for USAF Logistics Transformation LT is relevant for two reasons. First, Operation Watchtower was the first modern day expeditionary operation for the Marines. The USAF is entering new territory and can use the Marine Corps extensive expeditionary experience during Operation Watchtower as a guide for its own expeditionary operations. Second, the Americans achieved a successful outcome despite long lines of communications because they applied the principles of logistics and integrated warfighting functions more effectively than the Japanese did. Likewise, the USAF must ensure that LT mutually supports the EAF concept of logistics. The principles of logistics and the combination of logistics and the other warfighting functions must be validated against LT attributes to ensure that LT will effectively support USAF expeditionary operations. Although LT initiatives cannot directly impact manpower and equipment shortfalls, LT must revamp logistics processes to reduce FOL setup time and improve expeditionary sustainment. The concept of reengineering traditional logistics processes is innovative and challenging, yet, the USAF should be careful not to completely leverage logistics doctrine on commercial only best practices without keeping its processes focused on the warfighter. Often, new initiatives like LT become popular at the headquarters level because of the potential for significant manpower cuts or huge dollar savings. Traditional military logistics processes are notoriously redundant and complex, but effective during the fog and friction of war. LT must ensure that there is a proper balance between commercial efficiency and military effectiveness.

Subject Categories:

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

Distribution Statement: