Book Review: Field Manual: Logistics

FM:  Logistics, by the Department Of The Army

There are few more boring ways to read about logistics than this particular field manual.  Admittedly, field manuals are not written to be exciting reading, so it is no insult to the work to say that the way that the book is written is highly dull.  It serves its purpose of being deeply informative about the goals the the United States has when it comes to providing logistics services in its army.  If you, like me, have an interest in military logistics, this book is certainly of use even if it is a bit out of date and more modern logistical field manuals exist that better capture the use of technology as an aid in inventory management.  While logistics has a very broad influence in military matters, this particular book is largely focused on matters of inventory management and maintenance and related factors.  This view of logistics is a bit restricted for the tastes of some people, but reading this work gave me some ideas as far as stories were concerned, and any book that is well-written enough to allow me to think of a story involving a logistical detective of sorts is something that I can appreciate.

This book is about 150 pages or so and is divided into nine parts and eighteen chapters, most of which have several sections.  The first part of the book is an introduction that discusses the logistics system of the army (1), including its principles, as well as the organization for logistics that exists in the army (2), including the internal and external organizations that support this task as well as the army logistics requirements and resource management (3).  After that the author discusses the joint strategic planning system (II), including planning, programming, and budgeting, which includes financial management (4), as well as logistics support for military operations, including joint planning, mobilization, and support for disaster relief and civil disturbance control operations (5).  After that the author discusses the acquisition function (III), including materials purchasing and control (6), contracting (7), and production resources and controls (8).  The manual discusses supply (IV), focusing on inventory management (9) and distribution management (10), including storage.  The manual briefly discusses maintenance management (V, 11) before moving on to transportation (VI, 12).  Services management (VII, 13), including the army food program, is then followed by a discussion of facilities management (VIII, 14).  The last part of the book discusses other logistics services as a catch-all (IX), with chapters on security assistance (15), management of excess and surplus property (16), medical logistics (17), and automated logistics management information systems (18), after which there is an index.

In reading about logistics, it becomes very clear that there is a strong tension that exists between those who want to do things without caring about how much it costs and those whose job it is to make sure that things withhold to certain boundaries.  It is little wonder that logistical people can be rather irritating to deal with for others because of their beancounting ways, but all the same, logistical strategies by denying resources to others as a means of reducing their effectiveness has always been an interest of mine.  This book, if it is written with the beancounters in mind, gives enough information that it can be useful to those who see logistics as a means to a greater end.  It is my own personal opinion that quartermasters and other logisticians are underrated, and I have always done my best to appreciate those whose work deals with logistical matters because I appreciate having a great deal of material blessings and that requires a certain degree of good stewardship.  If that seems to be a bit of an archaic word, it certainly is a concept that it is worth caring about and pondering about and seeking to learn more about.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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