War finds success and failure inescapably linked to how well the combined, joint, and multinational commander ensures the Joint War Fighting Function “Sustainment” links to strategic, operational, and tactical objectives. General Eisenhower’s Operation OVERLORD, the Allied cross channel, air, and seaborne invasion of France during World War II, provides an excellent case study to show successful integration of the principles and the spirit of the Joint War Fighting Function “Sustainment.” OVERLORD required synchronizing, coordinating, and integrating the logistics capabilities of coalition forces and their equipment, as well as civilian manufacturing capabilities to meet the political end state (e.g. the defeat of Germany). This article will review the purpose and definition of Joint Sustainment; its imperatives and logistics planning principles; and examine how Eisenhower and his planners incorporated these imperatives and principles into Operation OVERLORD.
Joint Sustainment, Principles, and Imperatives
Joint Publication 3.0 Joint Operations, is the provision of logistics and personnel services necessary to maintain and prolong operations through mission accomplishment and redeployment of the force. Joint Publication 4-0 further states, “Effective joint logistics planning identifies future requirements and proposes solutions; it requires joint logisticians to understand the commander’s intent and concept of operations (CONOPS).” Logisticians use seven principles in their planning at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war to ensure operations are logistically supportable and sustainable through the duration of the operations. These principles are survivability, responsiveness, economy, attainability, attainability, sustainability, and flexibility.
The Commander achieves success based upon how well he adheres to these principles in his planning, as well as his ability to achieve the sustainment imperatives. The imperatives include unity of effort (UoE); Joint Logistics Enterprise (JLE)-wide visibility; and rapid and precise response. To achieve UoE the Combatant Commander (CCDR) must “develop a clear understanding of processes, roles and responsibilities, and measures of effectiveness... ) throughout the Joint, Coalition, and Multinational Staff. Joint Logistics Wide visibility is the Joint, Coalition or Multinational Force Commander’s ability to understand and achieve agreement on the logistics processes and the manner to which he will maintain accountability as to where supplies are located in relation to their origin and their destination. “It facilitates the capability to act upon information to improve overall performance...complete and timely information provides leaders and planners the ability to match available resources to operational demands.” Finally, rapid and precise response is as it sounds; the delivery of support in a fast, efficient and reliable manner, according to the CCDR’s priorities....