Exercising the logistic chain

I was in 9 Supply the year before we trotted off to GWII and 101 Log Bde held a large exercise. That large, we deployed in the field for a month to allow the Bde HQ to exercise for 4 days. What did come as a surprise was the lack of understanding and appreciation for the logistic chain. The first laugh was when I was asked how big an area I needed for the ammo storage by the CO, I said from here back to the M40 (we where on the other side of Bicester). He looked shocked and said that that's about 10km, I said yes, but that's only because we are holding a small amount. He offered us half a car park and I told him, what's the point of paying lip service to it as all it will do is make people think a car part will do for real.
Later the QM came charging up after completing his recce and had a go at my guys for not cammoing up. After he had vented his spleen. I asked him what the issue was. He complained about the lack of cam on the vehicles, and cam cream on the troops. He wasn't too happy when I pointed out that we are a Third Line Supply Unit and as such we are located 200 km behind our own lines. Cammo is more than a little redundant.

A year later I designed and set up the first ammo depot in Iraq, again the lack of understanding was prevalent. I requested 60 security padlocks and an Inf Coy to patrol the ammo site. 3 month's later and I still had neither. It wasn't until the locals started to steal the ammo that things started to be taken seriously. It turned out that my demand for the padlocks had been rejected 4 times by Bde, who then said at the investigation, "Oh is that what they were for". They turned up a week later. It was the same for the Inf, I got a Sec of TA, when Bde finally accepted that we were not established to supply protection of the ammo site, just our own admin area.

All lessons soon forgot again within a few months.

The year after we got back there was another Bde exercise. I gave Bde the option for the exercise ammo to move through the ammo Sqn, but in order to do so I needed all the information 3 months before hand so I can arrange for the Explosive Licences. Bde turn my offer down until the week before, I told them it was too late but they tried to force it through anyway. I held my ground and told them that if the ammo turned up at our location I would ensure that it be sent back to the depot and the exercise would have nothing. Sounds like me being a bit jobsworth until you realise that in their wisdom, Bde sited the ammo site right next door to the BFI! Why? Because all you have is simmo! Again paying lip service to the safety distances that are involved.
 
Again paying lip service to the safety distances that are involved.
As I mention earlier, we have firefights across our small ammo holdings. We get around the distance by putting an a4 bit of paper on it saying white phos x amount (I think it's 400 metres) away from everything else. We also have a4 bits of paper replicating tanks of water. It's a great use of time.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
FEBA was all the rage in my day!
FEBA was where the troops were set up to kill incoming. Forward on the Forward Leading -edge of Own Troops were the Recce Battlegroup plus atts (maybe a platoon of infantry but we had our own Support Troop, an arty grown up to liaise between us and his assets, most importantly, engineer teams to prepare demolitions).

Soon as our forward Recce assets were back over the bridge, demolition commander has it blown, everyone gets out and Recce withdraw in contact, guiding the enemy where we want them to follow us to the FEBA and the killing zones.
 
plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
In the mid 1980s we acquired BILS "Bricks In Lieu of Simmo" after my boss at 1(BR) Corps wrote a paper that suggested that "the supply of Simmo should be sufficient to test the logistic chain, not the other way round"
Amazingly BBQs made of white blocks appeared in the gardens of many MQs
The Berlin ATO and I organised a 100% ammo outload of the Berlin garrison around that time. We found out all sorts of interesting things (like our Sapper fork lifts didn't actually fit in the ESH doors as had been assumed for years). But the BAOR supply of simo wasn't big enough to represent the Berlin Brigade's ammo holdings (we had a LOT of dems stores and mines) so we were using BILS too. But then we found we had exhausted the available brick supply, so the ATO used LIBs...
 
Tracking and asset visibility a key lesson identified in Granby and recorded as top logistic capability shortfall prior to Gulf Round 2 - but always other stuff had a higher priority in the equipment world - hence the inadequate incremental approach and the mind-bending "Total Asset Visibility (minus)"
Which led to the occasion at the end of 2008 when cheques from MOD to GD(UK) were due to be signed and hundreds of millions of pounds worth of BOWMAN equipment couldn't be accounted for. That was an emotional time for all the RQMS(T)'s and Sigs C/SQMS's of the world!! :)
 
As I mention earlier, we have firefights across our small ammo holdings. We get around the distance by putting an a4 bit of paper on it saying white phos x amount (I think it's 400 metres) away from everything else. We also have a4 bits of paper replicating tanks of water. It's a great use of time.
Apparently, I was being "unhelpful" when I suggested that the simmo (pallet sized lumps of concrete) borrowed from 6 Surprise should have the details of the Ammo it was meant to represent stenciled on it.
 
Apparently, I was being "unhelpful" when I suggested that the simmo (pallet sized lumps of concrete) borrowed from 6 Surprise should have the details of the Ammo it was meant to represent stenciled on it.
Then how would you swop around the A4 bits of paper when you realised the ammo is in the wrong place?
 
Which led to the occasion at the end of 2008 when cheques from MOD to GD(UK) were due to be signed and hundreds of millions of pounds worth of BOWMAN equipment couldn't be accounted for. That was an emotional time for all the RQMS(T)'s and Sigs C/SQMS's of the world!! :)
I could mention the unit that couldn't account for the track miles on any of it's AFVs pre GW2 and had to replace the lot or the unit that lost a £56K piece of CR2 spares in it's stores or the bins overflowing with parts ordered but not fitted to AFVs and binned as it's tricky to return them at BATUS....
 
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ugly

LE
Moderator
I was in 9 Supply the year before we trotted off to GWII and 101 Log Bde held a large exercise. That large, we deployed in the field for a month to allow the Bde HQ to exercise for 4 days. What did come as a surprise was the lack of understanding and appreciation for the logistic chain. The first laugh was when I was asked how big an area I needed for the ammo storage by the CO, I said from here back to the M40 (we where on the other side of Bicester). He looked shocked and said that that's about 10km, I said yes, but that's only because we are holding a small amount. He offered us half a car park and I told him, what's the point of paying lip service to it as all it will do is make people think a car part will do for real.
Later the QM came charging up after completing his recce and had a go at my guys for not cammoing up. After he had vented his spleen. I asked him what the issue was. He complained about the lack of cam on the vehicles, and cam cream on the troops. He wasn't too happy when I pointed out that we are a Third Line Supply Unit and as such we are located 200 km behind our own lines. Cammo is more than a little redundant.

A year later I designed and set up the first ammo depot in Iraq, again the lack of understanding was prevalent. I requested 60 security padlocks and an Inf Coy to patrol the ammo site. 3 month's later and I still had neither. It wasn't until the locals started to steal the ammo that things started to be taken seriously. It turned out that my demand for the padlocks had been rejected 4 times by Bde, who then said at the investigation, "Oh is that what they were for". They turned up a week later. It was the same for the Inf, I got a Sec of TA, when Bde finally accepted that we were not established to supply protection of the ammo site, just our own admin area.

All lessons soon forgot again within a few months.

The year after we got back there was another Bde exercise. I gave Bde the option for the exercise ammo to move through the ammo Sqn, but in order to do so I needed all the information 3 months before hand so I can arrange for the Explosive Licences. Bde turn my offer down until the week before, I told them it was too late but they tried to force it through anyway. I held my ground and told them that if the ammo turned up at our location I would ensure that it be sent back to the depot and the exercise would have nothing. Sounds like me being a bit jobsworth until you realise that in their wisdom, Bde sited the ammo site right next door to the BFI! Why? Because all you have is simmo! Again paying lip service to the safety distances that are involved.
All of the above is why we need to exercise logistics, about time that the tail was given a chance to wag in full!
 
Apparently, I was being "unhelpful" when I suggested that the simmo (pallet sized lumps of concrete) borrowed from 6 Surprise should have the details of the Ammo it was meant to represent stenciled on it.
I had incorporated this into our exercises and each pallet had a sticky label with the ammo details. I even generated IVs so it could all be brought onto account correctly. I did make a mistake on the first exercise by creating an different IV for each nature. This made a nightmare for accountants.
For both exercises I got a list of natures required in "Theatre" from Bde, but they were put out half way through the second exercise when the RA demanded some "Rapier" and I told them there was none in stock. I had a visit from a Major who wanted me just to print off some new labels. I said no, as all that will acheive is to cover up someone's cock up instead of highlighting an issue that needs to be resolved.
 
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ugly

LE
Moderator
I had incorporated this into our exercises and each pallet had a sticky label with the ammo details. I even generated IVS so it could all be brought onto account correctly. I did make a mistake on the first exercise by creating an different IV for each nature. This made a nightmare for accountants.
For both exercises I got a list of natures required in "Theatre" from Bde, but they were put out half way through the second exercise when the RA demanded some "Rapier" and I told them there was none in stock. I had a visit from a Major who wanted me just to print off some new labels. I said no, as all that will acheive is to cover up someone's cock up instead of highlighting an issue that needs to be resolved.
Telling a pln cdr that he can't have more drill Mousehole charges and that the umpires would stop him using crosses of wood nailed together as they wouldn't be issued went down like a lead balloon. Unhelpful? I was called a traitor and a cheat for refusing to knock him up an extra 30 the night before a fibua phase of a Bn ex.
I told him he could make them himself provided the umpires accepted his explanation of where they came from or where he acquired the explosives
 
Think Defence has done some quite good pieces about logistics over the years, looking at what is out there and what he been trialled and ignored by the MOD.
This article, one of three looking at a replacement for 16AA covers equipment as well as logistics.
Equipment Discussion - Think Defence

This one looks at the ATMP, perhaps the closet post equivalent to the universal carrier?
Supacat All Terrain Mobility Platform (ATMP) and Springer - Think Defence

The points these all throw up is that the solutions are out there in industry and the capability to put together a good piece of kit has been there, however now, in the post HERRICK world, without a major identifiable threat against which to measure capability, planning for logistics, let alone exercising them is woefully poor.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
Well we are supposed to be deploying a battlegroup in Eastern Europe almost continuously surely this should include the full log element or are we buying in from lidl?
 
Well we are supposed to be deploying a battlegroup in Eastern Europe almost continuously surely this should include the full log element or are we buying in from lidl?
A large amount of our equipment has been placed on "Just in time" procurement. It's a system that's used extensively for the commercial market, I have always thought of it as a false economy for the military. Basically the kit only arrives as and when you need it.

Pros:
No large stores are required to house mountains of kit that might never be used.
Large reduction of the staffing costs for the above.
Money sits in your account as opposed to being stock on shelves.

Cons:
Reliant on equipment actually being available when needed.
Civilian log chain involved.
Money "ring fenced" is usually spent elsewhere.

As we all know a unit is not issued its full establishment of equipment unless they deploy on Ops. 6 Sup deployed to GWII and iot speed things up 9 Sup was tasked to issue anything they needed to make up to full establishment. 9 Sup would then demand from Bicester War Stocks. This was when we found out that the War Stocks held at Bicester don't actually exist.

The other issue is that who has actually ordered the deployment. If it's part of a NATO or other agreed commitment the money for the Op comes from the Defence Budget. If we are sent there by the Government the money comes from the Treasury. Only kit that is purchased once the Government has made the public announcement can be billed to the Treasury. This one of the reasons we end up with so many UORs and why kit is not supported post Ops. So for example Iraq and Afghanistan were paid for by the Treasury and Libya by the MoD, and why it was so difficult to get any kit for Ellemy/ Vocate as there was no separate budget.
 
A large amount of our equipment has been placed on "Just in time" procurement. It's a system that's used extensively for the commercial market, I have always thought of it as a false economy for the military. Basically the kit only arrives as and when you need it.

Pros:
No large stores are required to house mountains of kit that might never be used.
Large reduction of the staffing costs for the above.
Money sits in your account as opposed to being stock on shelves.

Cons:
Reliant on equipment actually being available when needed.
Civilian log chain involved.
Money "ring fenced" is usually spent elsewhere.

As we all know a unit is not issued its full establishment of equipment unless they deploy on Ops. 6 Sup deployed to GWII and iot speed things up 9 Sup was tasked to issue anything they needed to make up to full establishment. 9 Sup would then demand from Bicester War Stocks. This was when we found out that the War Stocks held at Bicester don't actually exist.

The other issue is that who has actually ordered the deployment. If it's part of a NATO or other agreed commitment the money for the Op comes from the Defence Budget. If we are sent there by the Government the money comes from the Treasury. Only kit that is purchased once the Government has made the public announcement can be billed to the Treasury. This one of the reasons we end up with so many UORs and why kit is not supported post Ops. So for example Iraq and Afghanistan were paid for by the Treasury and Libya by the MoD, and why it was so difficult to get any kit for Ellemy/ Vocate as there was no separate budget.
The methods used by industry are what works for industry. Applying those same methods to the preperation for war (though not necessarilly wartime production itself) or say running a National Health Service is a bad idea.
 
Back in the early 80's-I know, I know another BAOR wibble- C Sqn 1RTR had a funny little bunch of misfits at the very end of the tank park who went by the name of Surveillance Troop. They were equipped with a slack handful of Spartan CVRT which were nominally armed with with a GPMG , which of course led to much sneering from those who wielded a rather more mighty weapon.
As per the waspish Wildean banter on said tank park, they would of course respond with " Yeah but we've got Zebedee".
Indeed.
ZB298, battlefield radar which no ****** had a clue how to use and what it was for, but apparently was very expensive to run over.
I digress- the Spartans were actually be divvied up amongst the Squadrons and used for ammo resup and casevac-some lessons had been learned from the Falklands as to CVRT mobility.
 
I was in 9 Supply the year before we trotted off to GWII and 101 Log Bde held a large exercise. That large, we deployed in the field for a month to allow the Bde HQ to exercise for 4 days. What did come as a surprise was the lack of understanding and appreciation for the logistic chain. The first laugh was when I was asked how big an area I needed for the ammo storage by the CO, I said from here back to the M40 (we where on the other side of Bicester). He looked shocked and said that that's about 10km, I said yes, but that's only because we are holding a small amount. He offered us half a car park and I told him, what's the point of paying lip service to it as all it will do is make people think a car part will do for real.

Later the QM came charging up after completing his recce and had a go at my guys for not cammoing up. After he had vented his spleen. I asked him what the issue was. He complained about the lack of cam on the vehicles, and cam cream on the troops. He wasn't too happy when I pointed out that we are a Third Line Supply Unit and as such we are located 200 km behind our own lines. Cammo is more than a little redundant.

A year later I designed and set up the first ammo depot in Iraq, again the lack of understanding was prevalent. I requested 60 security padlocks and an Inf Coy to patrol the ammo site. 3 month's later and I still had neither. It wasn't until the locals started to steal the ammo that things started to be taken seriously. It turned out that my demand for the padlocks had been rejected 4 times by Bde, who then said at the investigation, "Oh is that what they were for". They turned up a week later. It was the same for the Inf, I got a Sec of TA, when Bde finally accepted that we were not established to supply protection of the ammo site, just our own admin area.

All lessons soon forgot again within a few months.

I've seen this quite a few times, only on Ex rather than Ops both as an Officer and a JNCO. In my experience it comes down to Officers not understanding what it is we're supposed to be achieving and preferring their units to look ally rather than actually being effective.
It usually manifests in non-tac traffic posts and their personnel being cammed up to eleven, whilst sat next the the ambulance and the wrecker (who are usually chilling out in t-shirts in a discreet admin area).
I've turned up to Convoy Marshalling Areas looking like John Rambo and been met by other units staring in disbelief because the Pl Comd wanted to look warry.

Again our Pro Ops and movt skills have been left to whither on the vine whilst we've spent the best part of a decade pretending to be inf. This is being addressed, but the corporate knowledge has been significantly depleted.
I've said it time and time again that we have entire battalions of blokes who can do inf, if we don't excel at our trade we don't bring anything to the party (and having done a fairly hairy HERRICK tour at Close Support, this isn't coming from jealousy or from having a chip on my shoulder). I still maintain that we need to be competent at inf skills and be able to survive on the battlefield, but we need to be shit hot at the stuff only we can do.
 
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