06 June 2012

Unified Quest: A Report From The Front

How is the Army doing in the Unified Quest wargame? They're learning a lot of lessons.

So it's a British officer who gives the bad news about the Mideastern operation at the morning briefing. "You needed ports, [the enemy] knew you needed ports," he said. "They were ready for you." While the US-led task force maneuvered elaborately by sea and air to deceive the enemy commanders where they would land, ultimately the coalition had no way to bring in the supplies its own forces needed, let alone humanitarian aid, without controlling a handful of major seaports. So the enemy commanders ignored the feints -- their militiamen lacked the kind of mobile reserve force that would have been needed to try to counter them anyway -- and simply dug in where they knew the US would eventually have to come to them.

"We had to go here; we're very predictable," sighed one US Army officer later in the briefing. The military has invested in the capability to bring forces ashore where there is no port -- formally called JLOTS, Joint Logistics Over The Shore -- but the Army and Navy together only have enough such assets to move supplies for one reinforced Army brigade, while the Marines can land another brigade-plus. That's only a fraction of the force required in this scenario. While the the resulting dependence on established infrastructure -- seaports, airfields, bases in friendly countries -- is often thought of as a purely logistical problem, in this kind of conflict it can have bloody tactical consequences.

By: Brant

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