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Logistics For Low-Intensity Conflict
AUTHOR Major R. S. Patterson, USMC
CSC 1989
SUBJECT AREA - Logistics
                    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
I.    PURPOSE:  To define and highlight important logistical
considerations in low-intensity conflict (LIC).
II.   PROBLEM:  The current viewpoint of logistics is that it is
the same at all levels along the spectrum of conflict; the only
difference is in the scale of the operation.  This simplistic
viewpoint fails to recognize the unique challenges of the LIC
environment and can result in inadequately prepared logisticians.
III.  DATA:  This paper provides considerations for the employ-
ment of logistical support in low-intensity conflict (LIC).
While the principles of logistics apply across the entire
spectrum of conflict, it is the adaptation of these principles to
the LIC environment that present different challenges for the
logistician.  It is usually carried out under peacetime laws and
regulations.  It requires imagination and flexibility to task-
organize the logistics resources available to effectively and
efficiently support the mission.  In the LIC environment, the
logistician will oftentimes be expected to take the lead and will
be a planner, operator, and teacher.  These roles will require
proper planning as well as a good dose of common sense.
IV.   CONCLUSIONS:  Success in LIC will often hinge on the
ability of the logistician to take the lead in defining and
planning for the mission from the outset rather than just
reacting to operational requirements during a crisis.  In many
LIC situations, the logisticians will be the first or may be the
only military personnel deployed; logisticians must be prepared
for these situations.
V.    RECOMMENDATIONS:  The U.S. military should incorporate more
thorough discussions of logistics for LIC in their operational
doctrine.  The service headquarters should conduct detailed
studies of their systems to ensure that the logistics systems,
procedures, and resources are capable of adapting to the various
LIC environments.
THESIS:   The current logistics system and procedures in place to
          operate and prepare for the "Big War" can provide the
          right kind of logistics for LIC if certain considera-
          tions are met in the various LIC environments.
      A.  Logistics Capabilities and Principles
      B.  LIC categories
      A.  Definition
      B.  Logistics Considerations
          1.  Limited Base Development
          2.  Mixed Support Structure
      A.  Definition
      B.  Logistics Considerations
          1.  Foreign Internal Defense Support
          2.  Humanitarian Assistance
      A.  Definitions
      B.  Logistics Considerations
          1.  Defense Against Vulnerabilities
          2.  Reliability Factors High
      A.  Definitions
      B.  Logistics Considerations
          1.  Crisis System Planning
          2.  Logistics Infrastructure Limited
     This paper will provide some considerations for the employment
of logistical support in low-intensity conflict (LIC).  While the
fundamental principles of logistics apply across the entire spec-
trum of conflict, it is the application or adaptation of these
principles to the LIC environment that present problems for the
logistician.  Low-intensity conflict is not business as usual.  It
is usually conducted under peacetime laws and regulations.  It
requires imagination and flexibility to task-organize the
logistics resources to effectively and efficiently support the
mission objective.  In the LIC environment, the logistician will
oftentimes be expected to take the lead as a planner, operator,
and instructor.  These roles will require some imagination as well
as a good dose of common sense.
     LIC is defined as a limited politico-military struggle to
achieve political, social, economic, or psychological objectives.
It is often protracted and ranges from diplomatic, economic, and
psychosocial pressures through terrorism and insurgency.  Low-
intensity conflict is generally confined to a geographic area and
is often characterized by constraints on the weapons, tactics, and
the level of violence.  (7: 1)  In LIC, logistics elements may
precede other military forces into the area of operations or may
be the only forces deployed.  This logistics preparation of
the battlefield, as a specific task or as a side benefit of
assistance to a host-nation, can be critical to the successful
execution of a current or future LIC operation.  Logistics systems
supporting either U.S. or host nation forces must operate within
the environmental restrictions of the host-nation and the legal
and political constraints governing U.S. involvement.  Therefore,
these systems must have the flexibility to task-organize support
to the local situation.  Logistics support in LIC involves not
only providing materiel and supplies to U.S. and host-nation
combat forces, but also, in most cases, developing logistics
systems and procedures for the host-nation along with the training
of host-nation logistics personnel.
     Logistics support in LIC can be complicated by the wide
dispersion of forces, the need to protect all bases and
installations, the need to provide security for ground and air
movement of supplies, and the difficulties of obtaining local
resources.  Because of these factors, airlift may be the most
secure means of transportation.  Also, logistics facilities and
stock levels should be kept to a minimum both to reduce the
security burden and the chances of supplies falling into enemy
hands.  Local resources should be used to the maximum, but this
use should not adversely impact the local forces or population.
(11: 5-23)
     Logistics flexibility, planning ahead, rapid response, and
making maximum use of local resources will be required to meet
the needs of widely dispersed forces operating in circumstances of
continuous, short-notice changes in the operational situation.  A
high degree of mobility is required to reduce or eliminate
excessive stocks in forward areas, restrict logistics bases to
safe areas, and provide the capability to evacuate casualties
rapidly.  Air resupply reduces or eliminates the need for escort
troops and reduces targets and sources of supply for the enemy.
Some special considerations affecting logistics support include
continuous maintenance of strict security, close cooperation with
local civil authorities (to include assistance in community
program and essential maintenance services), the requirement for
special equipment, higher than average wear-and-tear on clothing
and equipment, and the need for camps, services, and facilities
for supported personnel.  (11:5-32)
     The logistics capabilities required to accomplish this include
the following:
        - Secure and protected lines of communications (i.e. a
reliable logistics communication network).
        - Logistical mobility stressing tactical airlift and
support helicopters.
        - Means to utilize local resources to the maximum extent
possible within the constraints of the political and social
environment of the conflict.
        - Means to protect logistics sites.
        - Resources for construction of camps, repair of
buildings, and maintenance of services.
        - Means to establish a casualty evacuation and treatment
        - A flexible maintenance system.
        - Means of feeding isolated forces separated from the main
        - Financial arrangements to allow for payments for goods
and services received.
        - Legal services for the protection of assigned forces.
        - Automated inventory and movement control to maintain
visibility and rapidly adjust supplies and equipment.
(11: 5-32/33)
     Some of the principles that guide the establishment and
operation of logistical systems in LIC are a flexible task-force
organization tailored to be implemented in a particular theater or
country.  Routine use of host-nation support to include local
services, supplies, facilities, and transportation is emphasized
along with maximum use of existing lines of communications, ports,
and airfields.  The minimum handling of supplies is necessary to
include the requirement that for short duration conflicts (less
than 90 days) units will be supported by preplanned resupply
packages as much as possible.  In this vein, use of both strategic
and tactical airlift will be routine until surface transportation
can be made available.  Finally, the means for self-protection and
passive protection measures for the logistics units must be
planned for.  (10:2)
     Low-intensity conflict operations often require the ability to
execute time-sensitive, clandestine deployment.  In addition to
speed, the system used to mobilize and deploy the force must
operate in such a high security environment that normal pre-
deployment coordination is limited.  These heightened security
restrictions may require a significant change to standard
mobilization procedures and care should be taken so that these
mobilization "signatures" are not different than day-to-day
operational "signatures."  However, such requirements must not
prevent the minimum logistics planning and coordination necessary
to ensure mission success.  (3:30)
     The U.S. Armed Forces' mission in LIC falls into four cate-
gories: peacekeeping, insurgency and counterinsurgency, combatting
terrorism, and peacetime contingency operations.  (1:2)  The
logistical considerations for each of the categories are explored
in the remainder of this paper.
     Peacekeeping operations are military operations conducted in
support of diplomatic efforts to achieve, restore, or maintain
peace in areas of potential or actual conflict.  (1:7)  Peace-
keeping operations are usually conducted as a multinational effort
with military units from two or more nations.  Such operations may
be under the direction of the United Nations or some other
international organization.  The United Nations Participation Act
of 1945 authorizes U.S. forces to provide logistics support
directly to United Nations Peacekeeping Forces.  Such support is
provided under peacetime laws and regulations and is usually
characterized by limited base development and a mixed military and
civilian contractor support.  (10:5)
     A logistics support concept for peacekeeping operations can be
divided in separate phases to take the force from initial concept
to full development.  Each phase should include the essential
logistics tasks required to accomplish stated goals and time
frames to provide target dates for completion.  This phasing
effort provides a common basis that focuses every unit's efforts
and allows commanders to prioritize activities.  It is important
that the logistics planners be in direct contact with the
logistics operators, and coordination of every aspect of the
logistics operations should be agreed upon prior to commitment.
One method to ensure that planning has been thorough and precise
is to use the backwards planning sequence.  Using this approach,
the logistics planner forecasts a fully developed force and its
logistics system, and then adds the forces' requirements through
time-phasing in reverse to achieve the final-developed plan.  The
logistics operation should deploy, set up, and become operational
before other operating elements arrive in theater.  This is the
major difference between supporting combat operations in a
mid-intensity conflict and LIC.  If conditions do not permit this
early introduction of logistics support, an intermediate support
arrangement must be developed.  Although the force may be
multinational, as stated earlier, the logistics system should be
common to all.  The logistics system should be standard, simple,
and apply to all units.
     An entry point into the DoD supply system must be estab-
lished.  A supply support plan should be based on current
consumption data for similar operations.  Minimum changes should
be allowed during initial operations or until sufficient demand
patterns are established.  Contingency stocks should be sufficient
to support the worst case situation until the demand data is
developed.  The supply system design should detail the flow of
supplies from the origin to the user.  The logistics operators
must provide sufficient training for using-unit logisticians on
the supply system, distribution system, and forms and records to
be used.  This training should be complemented with an adequate
customer service program.  The logistics support unit should
provide support directly to the major using units, but not to the
subordinate sub-elements.  Each using-unit will be responsible for
the distribution of supplies to its subordinate organizations.
The logistics support concept should provide for the automation of
supply records as soon as the operation is established enough to
support an automated system.  Automated inventory records,
property receipts, requisitions, and management reports are
essential to efficient operations.  In addition, to protect
limited resources, property accountability and responsibility must
be established as soon as practicable.  In conjunction with this,
unit requisitioning activities must be monitored to ensure
excessive quantities are not requested, the priority system is not
violated and supply discipline is observed.  (2:102-107)
     The majority of supplies will be common to all.  Therefore,
the majority of the items stocked by the force will satisfy normal
unit needs.  Standardization of equipment throughout the force
will enhance this commonality of supply.  Nonstandard items should
be provided by the units themselves to satisfy their unique
requirements.  But, the purchase of commercial, off-the-shelf
equipment should be considered in place of unit-unique equipment.
Using this combination of requesting items from the DoD supply
system and purchasing from commercial sources saves money and
provides more flexibility to support.  The deployed force must
have a local purchase capability and sufficient funds to provide
support for its units.  This is particularly important during
initial operations prior to full development of the logistics
support unit.  To the greatest extent possible, high volume, bulk
items should be obtained locally.  (2: 102-107)
     Available facilities in theater must support the deployment
schedule and prioritized to meet mission requirements.  There
should be backup alternatives when facility plans cannot support
the mission requirements.  Secondary support sites might be
considered to provide intermediate logistics support bases as
backups to breakdowns in the resupply system and to provide a
contingency stock.  Warehouse facilities must be large enough to
provide a surge capacity to handle large safety stock levels
during initial operations.  Also, the use of modular structures
should be utilized to improve the efficiency of operations and
provide for troop quarters at the least cost.
(2: 102-107)
     There must be an interface with the DoD transportation system
and a commercial freight contractor that provides a reliable
tracking system to allow the force to obtain shipping status and
provide item visibility.  Obtaining this accurate data on supply
shipments and transportation dates may be critical.  Force
transportation assets must be sufficient to clear ports and
airfields in a timely manner to prevent loss of supply tracking.
In this regard, a movement control center to provide internal
control of force transportation assets is essential and must be
included in the logistics support plan.  Units must be required to
exhaust use of their organic transport assets prior to seeking
additional support from the force-level.  Finally, specialized
equipment, such as unloading cranes and lifts, should be cen-
tralized and operated by the transportation unit.  (2: 102-107)
     Depending upon the length of the peacekeeping operation, the
logistics support unit should be as stable as possible limiting
personnel turnover.  Logistics operations in foreign theaters are
enhanced by the assignment of bilingual support personnel.  In
some cases, the assignment of bilingual personnel may be mandatory
for the success of a logistics operation.  Additionally, a
civilian support services contractor may be able to support a
peacekeeping force with some of the service functions now provided
in CONUS.  However, the contractor's support plan must be care-
fully reviewed to ensure feasibility with the force logistics
support concept.  (2: 102-107)
     The second LIC environment is counterinsurgency defined as
those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological,
and civic actions taken by a government to defeat subversive
insurgency.  (6: 185)  The characteristics of the
counterinsurgency environment which make logistics support under
these conditions different from those expected in general warfare
include the following:  (5: 2)
     - Inadequate communication system
     - Inadequate logistics facilities
     - High level of guerrilla activity
     - Political factions of local population
     - Need for rapid deployment of U.S. forces
     - Low health and sanitation levels
     - Absence of a clear declaration of war
     - Some targets and areas not likely to be attacked
     - Logistical support units prepared on short notice
     In the early phase of an insurgency, U.S. forces can assume
noncombat support functions with the host-nation's military
forces.  These roles can range from operational (advisors or
instructors) to logistics support (combat service support to
augment the host-nation's effort) that will create a framework
upon which to build U.S. forces, if such employment should become
necessary.  A critical element in this counterinsurgency strategy
is that U.S. forces remain in the background in their support
role.  This helps maintain the credibility of the host-nation
government and bolsters its popular support.  (1: 10)
     U.S. security assistance organizations, training teams and
special operations forces should focus on ensuring the local
military structure is adequate to meet potential threats and to
avoid the need for direct U.S. combat intervention.  At all
levels, U.S. organizations should take care to ensure all security
assistance efforts comply with U.S. law and support the host
nation counterinsurgency strategy.  These efforts should be
combined with psychological and civil affairs operations.  (1 :11)
     Logistical support can be very important.  The need to
adequately supply troops in the field is not just a military
problem.  Often in developing states, poor logistical systems mean
that forces operating away from home bases will try to live-off
the land, which will mean off the local villagers.  This leads
directly to illegal actions by our forces and produces local
resentment against the government.  Therefore, adequate and timely
logistical support is an important element in developing a
response to an insurgency.  Logistical support is an area in which
the U.S. is relatively strong, but the trick is not to redesign
local forces to comply with U.S. logistical requirements but to
design a logistical support effort that will fit into local needs
and capabilities.  Assuming that the main U.S. role in an
insurgency may be logistical support and advice to a host country,
logistics becomes even more important and it may be the main
effort of U.S. military involvement.  Therefore, it is essential
to develop a system that can function with flexibility and task-
organize its capabilities to support local needs.  (12: 60-61)
     Humanitarian assistance may be part of a counterinsurgency
plan to change or prevent situations detrimental to the U.S.
interests.  The logistics support units involved will usually
support civilian agencies and may be under civilian control.
     Combatting terrorism consists of those defensive
(antiterrorism) and offensive (counterterrorism) measures to meet
the growing terrorism threat.  (1: 14)  Terrorism is the unlawful
use of force or violence against individuals or property for
intimidating governments or societies and often for achieving
political or religious objectives.  (4: 2)
     Because of their high visibility, logistics units and
facilities are particularly vulnerable to the terrorism threat.
All logistics units should be aware of this threat and the
defensive measures needed to reduce their vulnerability.
Logistics plans and military construction programs should include
specific antiterrorism measures.
     Counterterrorism operations demand precise timing and
execution because of the international political attention of such
operations.  Therefore, the logistics support of these operations
can mean the difference between success and failure.  Equipment
failures are not acceptable in this environment where a guarantee
of 100% reliability is often demanded prior to approval of this
mission.  Logistics planners must participate from the beginning
in the planning for counterterrorism operations.  Since security
is a key consideration in counterterrorism planning, logisticians
should be trained to use deception, cover stories, or other active
and passive measures to maintain the required security.  During an
operation, logistics resource needs must not compete with other
high priority requirements.  Finally, to provide the desired
reliability, logistics support units must be dedicated to the
counterterrorism operations until completion of the operation.
     Peacetime contingency operations are politically sensitive
military operations characterized by the short-term, rapid
projection of forces in conditions short of conventional war.
(1: 16)
     Logistics units must have a working knowledge of the
operational plans they are supporting so that they can build
complementary plans and procedures.  Logistics units, like combat
units, must train together to achieve teamwork.  Additionally, the
senior headquarters must integrate the logistics units into the
planning process and allow those units to rehearse those plans
affecting their operations.  (13: 80)
     Peacetime contingency operations are likely to be of short
duration and have a small number of objectives with limited
personnel and equipment.  In this case, this will usually mean the
logistics support units will be limited in favor of deploying the
maximum number of combat units.  Therefore, detailed logistics
planning will be required to arrive at the correct balance of
logistics to combat power.  The key is to keep the logistics
structure limited but adequate to support the deployed force.
(10: 13)
     If a contingency force is deployed to a country where a
Host-Nation Support Agreement is in effect, the logistics support
unit should be task-organized to take advantage of the support
provided by such an agreement.  If not, logistics requirements
must be met initially by U.S. forces or locally contracted
services and supplies.  To accomplish this, contracting personnel
must be among the first deployed.  (10: 12)  The contingency force
will have its home base either in the CONUS or in a third country
and will rely on strategic airlift and sealift for rapid
deployment and resupply.  Normally, the major logistics activities
will be accomplished outside the area of operations.  (10: 13)
     The deployment of the logistics support package must be phased
to correspond with the deployment of the combat force.  Con-
tingency forces may be staged near the area of operations to cut
down the length of the lines of communication.  However, the
forward staging of the force presents a large logistics problem,
requires time, facilities, and protection, and can be done only
when a friendly country consents to the use of its country to
deploy war materiel.  (10: 14)  The deployment and management of
logistics support units usually pass through a series of phases.
In the early stages, most logistics units will be small and
without an on-site headquarters element.  However, to ensure
effective command and control, some type of logistics headquarters
should be phased in during the later deployed increments to
organize these smaller logistics elements.  (10: 14)
     Supply support of a peacetime contingency operation in an
unestablished area will be provided to the deployed force through
a combination of unit supplies and predetermined, preplanned
supply support.  Sufficient supplies must accompany the con-
tingency force to enable it to accomplish its initial objectives
and sustain itself until resupply begins.  Logistics plans must
provide for normal and emergency resupply.  (10: 15)
     Low-intensity conflict presents many challenges for the
logistician.  Perhaps the biggest challenge will be dealing with a
dynamic environment of competing and sometimes conflicting
political, social, economic, and military requirements.  The theme
of this paper has been flexibility of logistics systems and
procedures that have been tailored (or task-organized) to plan for
and execute short notice, highly visible, and sometimes changing
missions.  In addition, logisticians may have to take the lead in
defining and planning for these missions from the outset rather
than reacting to operational requirements during a crisis.
     The majority of logistics planning is dedicated to supporting
current operations and preparing for the "big war."  Because of
this, logistics to support LIC will be met by adapting these
"big-war" logistics systems, procedures, and resources to the
different challenges of LIC.
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     Low-Intensity Conflict."  Langley AFB, VA, June 1987.
2.   Creel, Joe C., Lieutenant Colonel, USA and Wright, James M.,
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     national Force and Observers Model."  Student Paper, US Army
     War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, 19 May 1986.
3.   Department of the Air Force.   "Draft Aerospace Operational
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     DC, 30 January 1987.
4.   Department of Defense.  "Protection of DoD Personnel and
     Resources Against Terrorist Acts."  DoD Directive 2000.12,
     16 July 1986.
5.   John Hopkins University, Operations Research Office.  "Prob-
     lems of Logistic Operations in Suport of US Operations in
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6.   Joint Chiefs of Staff.  "Dictionary of Military and
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8.   National Defense University, Armed Forces Staff College.
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9.   Stubbs, Gregory D., Major, USAF.  "Movement Control:
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10.  US Army Logistics Center.  "Interim Operational Concept for
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11.  US Army Training and Doctrine Command.  "ABCA Armies' Combat
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12.  US Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute.  Low-
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