On The Ironies Of Logistics

It is ironic for several reasons that I have spent so much of my life wrestling with problems of logistics. According to Jungian perosnality analysts, there are four tasks that are best suited for different types of personalities. These people consider my personality type best suited to strategic intelligence, which I think is a fair analysis of my rational and generally long-term orientation. According to these people, I am next best at diplomatic and tactical intelligence, which suggests some ability but not a natural level of great competence, which has been borne out by my life, as I have had uneven success in these two areas, but have shown at least some ability some of the time (more in tactical intelligence than diplomatic intelligence, I would say). Likewise, I am figured to be the least skilled by personality when it comes to logistics, which is the day-to-day handling of resources, a task which seems to require a certain love of procedure that I do not possess by nature.

However poor my native abilities may be in the field of logistics, it is an area that has for a variety of reasons held my attention. I am generally amused when people think of me as a resourceful person. My whole life has been a struggle with the consequences of overabundance and scarcity. The scarcity of material resources and the abundance of intellectual resources has led to a certain imbalance in focus, as I have sought to use my strengths to at least provide some sort of cover for my considerable weaknesses. Likewise, my strategic mindset and the practical side of my personality have sought to understand logistics as a strategy, looking at the acquisition and management of resources as a means to an end rather than as an end themselves. For some people, strategies and tactics and people skills are what one uses to gain material possessions. For me material possessions are only useful to the extent that they serve people and fulfill my goals and plans. The difference between the two is a difference between someone who has a natural inclination towards logistics, and one who sees it as useful in the bigger picture.

Many of the problems of our world are, at their base, issues of logistics. Ironically, a great deal of logistical problems exist for people because those who are best suited to handle issues of logistics often spend more time gathering resources for themselves than being wise stewards of those resources and serving others. George Washington was one of the most capable logistical generals of all time (Fabius, the plodding foe of Hannibal in Italy, was another). George Washington lost more battles than he won, an immense rarity when it comes ot the best loved generals of American military history. Robert E. Lee is beloved, for example, despite his immense failures in logistics and despite his near total absence in strategic intelligence. (He was, it should be noted, skilled in tactical intelligence, however.) Washington won, though, by refusing to lose and by preserving the resources that he had while making the most out of the circumstances that he was given. Ironically enough, the city named after him has become famous for its acquisition of large amounts of resources it has no competence in handling, and for its complete inability to do anything no matter how much it is given. The wide gulf between Washington and his modern counterparts is about as wide a gulf when it comes to skills in logistical management that can be imagined.

Though I profess no great skill when it comes to managing material resources, I do find that having at least some interest in logistics is useful in grounding ones plans and goals in the real world. It is easy for something to work well on paper but not be as successful in reality when face with constraints of time and knowledge and resources. Having at least some interest in logistical matters helps ground one’s behavior in reality, taking a great deal of impracticality out of one’s behaviors and making plans more robust and more achievable. Whether one hsa a natural skill in acquiring resources or merely a lifetime of education in the school of hard knocks, logistics is something that demands our attention. As long as we need resources to live, and as long as there is a scarcity in money and time for us to manage and skillfully use, we will all have to pay attention to and develop some skill in logistics. If we are wise, we may even use logistics as part of a larger strategy, taking advantage of opportunities to waste less and be more efficient in using our resources so that we can get more done in the same amount of time or for the same cost or resources. As ironic as that may be, at the end of the day, that sort of approach can help people serve others and fulfill our own goals and plans. That alone makes logistics worthy of significant time and attention.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American Civil War, American History, History, Military History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to On The Ironies Of Logistics

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