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Desert Storm Lessons from the Rear

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As used by our Marine colleagues, REMF is an acronym that describes those of us who were not in direct contact with the enemy during Desert Storm. The r and the e stand for rear echelon. A Marine friend can privately explain the rest. As I use it, however, REMF is an acronym that stands for rear echelon managerial factotum--in short, a staff officer. I do not intend and will not use any other translation. To combatants, REMFs are those distant, detached, and faceless hundreds responsible for planning, transportation, and logistics during deployment, and force sustainment during employment. The responsibilities of REMFs range from moving people, beans, bullets, bandages, basketballs, and mail, to planning how each of these will be consumed and resupplied. Among REMFs are staff officers in combat support and combat service support within the theater of operations, and those in headquarters at the division, corps, fleet, army, or air force level, wherever those headquarters are located. The most powerful REMFs are found at the headquarters of unified and specified commands, on the service staffs, or in the Joint Staff. REMFs are the ones that pull the ropes that make JOPES Joint Operation Planning and Execution System work. In Desert Shield and Desert Storm, REMFs were charged with managing the theoretically seamless logistics tail. This tail snaked back all the way from the periphery of Kuwait through nodes as far-flung as Vaihingen, Honolulu, Washington, Tampa, Norfolk, Omaha, and Belleville, IIIinois. REMFs caused all the activity at the sea and aerial ports, managed the timing and tempo of deployments, and pushed millions of tons of people and things into the able hands of allied combatant leadership.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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