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The Evolution of US Military Logistical Procurement Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 6th, 2019


The history of the United States military has evolved over a period of two centuries since independence. The concepts of logistic and procurement has become the central pillars in military operations because their application form the basis of a strong army. Huston (2004) defines logistics as “the application of time and space factors to war.”

According to Haggerty and Wood (2010), military procurement must be agile and innovative having broader base of ideas from government, academia and industry. The extent of logistics and procurement of war material has proved over a period of two centuries to be the determining factor in a battle and not mere sophistication of the weapons.

Revolutionary War

This war occurred in 1775- 1783 and led Americans gain their independence from their British colonies. Prior to the revolutionary war, the thirteen American colonies functioned independently having their own unprofessional armies who lacked efficient military training and had crude weapons. When the revolutionary war erupted, Continental Congress resolved to form a coordinated army so that they can fight their colonialist, the British.

George Washington was appointed the commander-in-chief of the continental army and he formulated the logistics of fighting the revolutionary war and eventually defeating the British army (Huston, 2006). George Washington combined both continental and local militia in his war logistics to combat British army (Palmer, 2004).

The continental army objective was to disrupt British logistical transport of the armies, weapons and food. According to palmer (2004), Continental Congress establish continental navy and equipped them through the “purchase, conversion, and construction of a cruiser navy ships” which constantly surveyed the sea and prevent British army from building their logistics and procurement of essential goods and weapons.

The success of the revolutionary war was attributed to the logistics employed by the George Washington as he coordinately combined the continental army and local militia and focuses his attacks on the weakest points of the British army in terms of disrupting their transport logistics in the sea and avoidance of engaging in decisive battles (Tokar, 2006).

The defeat of the British army has proved to the Americans “the importance of sea power” although the continental army was faced with the setbacks such as politicized commanders and incompetent soldiers (Palmer, 2004). Continental army was eventually disbanded due to political, economic and philosophical reasons in relation to the international diplomacy necessary for the growth of commerce.

Early National period

After revolutionary war and disbandment of the continental navy, the war that broke in Europe in 1783-1815 and made the United States be interested with the international war since the French army seized her ships again threaten America.

President Thomas Jefferson proposed, “We ought to begin a naval power, if we mean to carry on our commerce. Can we begin it on a more honorable occasion, or with a weaker foe?” and other federalists also wanted a powerful navy army with the capacity of not only protecting the united states ships and cargos but also her international interests (Palmer, 2004).

The debate about re-establishment of the navy led to conclusion when the Congress passed an Act for the building of many war ships that were well constructed and heavily armed to overcome the dangerous sea cruise. These developments led to the growth of the United States shipping and trade industry since Britain and France were at war (Palmer, 2004).

The French army angered United States when they hijacked her ships leading to the Quasi-War between the two countries at the Caribbean Sea.

The leading commander was Benjamin Stoddert who employed various tactics to overcome the French army and protect their merchant ships at the Caribbean Sea (Tokar, 2006). Benjamin tried to eliminate the setbacks which the continental navy had encountered in that he removed incompetent soldiers and sought political support by defeating French army and coming out with an excellent reputation.

The success of the Quasi-War was due to the competent soldiers and the use of minimum force against French army that lead to diplomatic settlement (Palmer, 2004). In 1800, the United States experienced the shortages of fiscal resources and labor required to run and maintain naval army hence the country could not meet extra cost of expanding navy.

The successful defeat of the French Army during the Quasi-War led to political support to establish naval army in 1807 following impending war with the Great Britain in 1812. The Great Britain had constructed her fleet of ships which patrolled across Atlantic paralyzing the ports and the commerce of the United States and eventually raided Washington and captured White House in 1814 (Palmer, 2004).

The United States then pumped a lot of resources, money and labor in keeping abreast with the Britain advancement in the naval army and building of fleets of warships. The logistics of overcoming Britain, building of the fleets of warships and procurement of the weapons coupled with the paralyzed commerce across Atlantic made the United States to revive their naval army and international interests.

The 1812 war reminded the Americans the importance of “sea power” because the Britain army paralyzed their commerce and attacked their country despite the sophistication of the weapons and strong fortification they had in their country (Palmer, 2004).

The weakness was due to the lack of logistical urgency and preparation against any emergent attack from the enemies. There was a political consensus to support the establishment of powerful warship fleet to enhance their war logistics but the fleets of ship constructed were not used since the war ended in 1815.

Continental Expansion War

This war occurred when the United States wanted to expand her territory westwards in 1816-1660. During this period the United States was a nation free of war threats, the sea was free of pirate since the Congress of Vienna agreed to end the war, and so the naval army did not have battles to prepare for and conquer.

Although there was no war during this long period of decades, the naval army worked very hard in order to keep abreast with the powerful countries like Great Britain and France and keep up with the ever-changing military technology. The technology then included invention of powerful steam engines, sophisticated military weapons and communication telegraph (Palmer, 2004).

In order to overcome the problem of incompetent soldiers experienced during revolutionary war and enhance professionalism in military, the United States in 1845 started an engineering college at Annapolis.

Professionalism in the military is going to enhance tactics, logistics and strategies for an effective and efficient way of winning a battle. In 1846-1848, the naval army attacked the Mexico when they needed more land for expanding due to population growth (Palmer, 2004). The army took the advantage of their “sea power” experience blocking Mexico ports and dominating their coast proving the effectiveness of the “sea power.”

American Civil War

This war broke out when Abraham Lincoln became the president in 1861-1865. The war between the Confederate and Union states resulted from a combination of factors such as slavery, political, social and economic differences.

Although the war occurred abruptly and both warring factions were caught unaware, the Union had an upper hand because they dominated the naval army hence over power the Confederate states by utilizing the “sea power” and the inland Mississippi river in the logistics and procurement of food and weapons (Palmer, 2004).

The Confederate states army was faced with the logistical challenges as the Union states navy patrolled their sea therefore blocking them. The respective States both struggled with the logistics and procurement of enough food so that they can feed large number of armies engaged in war.

The confederate States procured several swift cruisers in order to counteract the Union navy army who have taken the advantage of the “sea power” and blocked the sea ports making the Confederate States to deploy thousands of troops against small number of naval army who were cruising the sea.

The successful defeat of the Confederate states of south by the Union states gave the naval army a good image and enhanced the political support in building stronger naval forces in the United States.

After the civil war, the Americans, both the Confederate and Union states were tired and had exhausted their resources on war, resolved to build their nation economically, socially and politically. The naval army then focused on the protection of their merchant ships and used diplomacy in order to explore and expand the United States markets internationally.

World War I

World War I occurred in 1917-1921.During this war the United States was passive but supported the Britain and France logistically by deploying her soldiers and resources while using their equipment. Germany logistic systems in terms of men, equipment and horses surpassed the threshold estimates compelling the government to reconsider their logistics. (Antill, 2001).

The British army had logistical problem since they were caught unprepared and they experienced shortage of ammunition supply due to underestimation and transport difficulties.

According to Antill (2001), “the First World War was a milestone for military logistics” since the British solders experienced shortages of the ammunition and there was no elaborate transport system, hence there were greater difficulties in the supply of the necessary materials to the soldiers on the move.

The use of horses proved inefficient in the transport and British then realized the importance of the motorists, seaports and railway system as the means to enhance their logistical and procurement support from the United States.

World War II

At the beginning of the war in 1939, the United States participated passively by supplying weapons and giving financial support to the United Kingdom, China and the Soviet Union. In 1941, the United States entered into the war after Germany and Italy declared war on her. When the United States lost several battles, she had to reconsider her logistics of “sea power” into utilizing airplanes and submarines in addition to the railway, sea and motorists order to conquer her enemies.

Antill (2001) described Second World War as “logistically in every sense and the most testing war in history.” This is because the cost of technology and industrial potential to produce were not the limiting factors but the limiting factor was logistical transport of raw materials into the industry and the supply of the required ammunitions and other consumables to the soldiers in the field (Huston, 2004).

The United States surpassed her enemies due to the proper logistics and procurement abilities since her armies and allies never experienced any shortage of war materials despite threatening power of German armies that used huge amount of ammunitions. The United States maximized her logistical transport and attack in terms of warships, railway, submarines, airplane and motorists.

Antill (2001) commend the United States that “the principal logistic legacy of the Second World War was the expertise in supplying far off operations and a sound lesson in what is, and what is not, administratively possible.” The logistic and strategic lessons out the World War I led Americans again realize the importance of the “air power” in addition to their “Sea power” experience in making them emerge as world’s superpower country.

The outcome of the World War I shaped both political and military aspects worldwide as the United States begin to collaborate with the United Kingdom in terms of military technology, intelligence and procurement of necessary materials to equip their armies.

War on Terrorism

The war on terrorism resulted from the September 11, 2001 when the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. In a great response, the United States marshaled all her resources and cumulative logistical experiences over the past wars she had participated and headed for Afghanistan and Iraq in search of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein respectively, who are the perceived leaders behind the terrorism worldwide.

According to Huston (2004), “logistics is the principle element in the support of military operation” and it involves procurement, transportation, storage and utilization of the military materials during war.

On counter terrorism, the United States had managed to exploit and maximize her logistics when her armies went into Afghanistan and Iraq. The combination of numbers and logistics lead to the successful fight of the Al-Qaeda. To enhance the logistics, the United States had wide range of equipment: the biggest navy ship and submarines to provide the “sea power,” warplanes to provide the “air power” and military tracks for underground fight and sophisticated communication equipment.

With all these factors and competent soldiers, coupled with logistical plans, has enabled Americans to win the war on terrorism (Tokar, 2006). According to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), there are five principles of logistics: foresight, economy, flexibility, simplicity and co-operation (Antill, 2001). The United States had to plan the logistics and procurement of war materials before embarking on anti-terrorism.


The concepts of logistics and procurement are the fundamental applications in military in order to successful defeat an enemy without exhausting the estimated military resource.

This can be termed as economy of war, knowing how to fight efficiently and effectively in a logical way as logistics is to have the right thing, at the right place, on the right time and comprises four aspects: procurement, transport, storage and utilization of materials. Logistics has proved why the United States become a super power and is still very determined to wage war on terrorism worldwide.


Antill, P. (2001). Military Logistics: A Brief History. Military History Web. Retrieved from

Haggerty, A., & Wood, R. (2010).The P-51 Mustang: A Case Study in Defense Acquisition. Defense Acquisition University, 508-509.

Huston, J. A. (2004). The Sinews of War: Army Logistics, 1775-1953. New York: University Press of the Pacific.

Palmer, M. (2004). The Navy: The Continental Period, 1775-1890. Naval Historical Centre. Retrieved from <>

Tokar, J. (2006). Logistics and the British Defeat in the Revolutionary War. American Logistic Management College. Web.

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